The first of April marks the beginning of an important event that we would like to acknowledge here at WorkLife. No, not April Fools’ Day, April is Stress Awareness month.
So what do we know about stress? We know that stress can make us feel overwhelmed, and it tends to get a bad rep because of this, but is that all it is?
Actually, stress is much more complex than that! Stress is our body’s immediate response to sensing danger, or a threat. Whether that threat is real, or imagined, it will send your body into its “fight or flight response”, which is your body’s way of protecting you. The physiological response to stress increases your strength, stamina and reaction times. Which means that sometimes, stress can actually be a good thing! It can make us focused, alert and help us rise to meet challenges.
However, too much stress can have an adverse effect on our bodies, emotions, relationships and quality of life. Our nervous systems are very clever, but they struggle to tell the difference between emotional and physical threats. So our bodies can react to things such as deadlines, in the same way as it would to a life threatening situation.
If we think about stress in terms of the 5 pillars of wellbeing, it can affect virtually every one in some way. Let’s consider what might happen if we were to have money worries. If, for example, we were worried that we did not have enough money to last until the end of the month, this might cause us stress, affecting our financial wellbeing. The symptoms of stress would manifest in mental signs such as worry, and physical, for instance being unable to sleep. This could lead to us being snappy with others, affecting us socially and perhaps not feeling as though we have time to take care of our surroundings, or our environment.
Being able to identify sources of stress can make us much more likely to be able to manage it, as sometimes, we can feel so much stress that it begins to feel normal! To help with this, we urge our WorkLife members to download Thrive and take their modules to help stress management, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Self Suggestion exercises. Through the app you also have access to a wellbeing practitioner.
So if you do anything this April, make sure you utilise your WorkLife benefits to ensure that you are best placed to manage the stress that inevitably creeps into our lives.