This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and although it’s much different to previous years, many elements are also the same. The current global situation lends itself to a perfect storm of negative mental health – and if you’re working from home, it may have compounded the other stresses that can occur in everyday life.
Stress is an inevitable part of life. We all feel pressure sometimes because of our own expectations of ourselves, and the expectations of others. One of the main causes of stress is when we doubt our own abilities to manage.
Stress is usually brought about by our own thoughts. After all, if something is actually happening, we can do something about it most of the time and doing something doesn’t leave much room for stressing about it. The main fuel for stress is the constant train of thoughts. These are usually anxious thoughts, going over the same thing and coming up with the same conclusions, that we can’t cope with something.
For example, the workplace is often filled with stressors; with work deadlines and targets to meet and colleagues and bosses to get along with. And if, like many of us, you’re working from home, you may have noticed that it doesn’t mean those work stresses magically disappear.
There are a few things you can do to help you manage this kind of thought-based stress, at work and in other areas of your life.
- What are you stressed about. Make a list, and rate them from 1 to 10, with 10 being the most stressful
- What number would that stress need to be to make it feel comfortable. The first step is to reduce the stress level.
- What is it about that situation that makes you feel stressed? For example, do you feel unable to achieve the standard requires, or meet the target, or is it just that you don’t want to do something. Take a bit of time to really dig into the problem.
- Is there one thing that you could do to make that stress one number less than you rated it earlier? It has to be something that you can actually do, for example, if your work load is too great, you could discuss your concerns with your line manager or immediate superior colleague.
- Is there a though pattern you have noticed that makes your stress levels higher? For example, are you imagining all kinds of negative outcomes with no evidence of them actually happening?
- If you are conscious of negative or fearful thoughts, is there evidence to suggest that these things are real?
- If there is, what can you do about it? Even changing one thing will be likely to reduce the stress.
- If there isn’t evidence, can you imagine something better instead to reduce your stress?
Stress will often reduce if you can get a break from it. When it is thought based, the best way to break the thought is to think about something else. It involves you making a conscious effort, but it is worth it because it allows you to access all those things you know and have learned and all your creativity to manage the stress and find your way out of it.
Try this exercise.
- Take a couple of minutes to close your eyes and notice your breathing.
- Feel your body relax as your breathing slows down.
- Remember a wonderful holiday or day out that you had one time. Only think about the good bits!
- Imagine you are back there now, enjoying the environment,
- notice that you are feeling great, on top of the world.
- Smile inside and outside.
- Remember that you will soon feel this way again.
You can do this exercise as often as you need to, and remember that taking regular breaks is essential no matter what you’re doing.
If this exercise has intrigued you and you’d like to know more, we have a free Stress Management coursewhich can provide you with some additional techniques for handling those tricky stresses.
If you’d like to find out more about managing mental health challenges, head over to our free courses where you’ll find more information conveniently packaged into short sessions.
Have a great day, and a positive Mental Health Awareness Week!