Stress Awareness Month Raises Physical Benefits

The North Cumbria Integrated Trust is raising awareness of the mental and physical problems associated with stress.

Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992 to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic.

Despite this running for 20 years, there is still have a long way to go.

Dr Brenda Connolly, Consultant Clinical Psychologist in Staff Health and Wellbeing at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Experiencing stress is normal part of being human.

“Everyone feels stressed at certain times, particularly if you are feeling under pressure.

“A healthy amount of stress can help you feel motivated, energised and get things done.

“However, too much stress, particularly chronic stress can lead to you feeling overwhelmed and become problematic.”

Millions of us around the UK are experiencing high levels of stress and it is damaging our health with 50 percent (411,000) of workplace sickness involving stress, anxiety and depression.

Stress is one of the great public health challenges of our time, but it still isn’t being taken as seriously as physical health concerns.

Stress is a significant factor in mental health problems including anxiety and depression.

It is also linked to physical health problems like heart disease, problems with our immune system, insomnia and digestive problems.

Individually we need to understand what is causing us personal stress and learn what steps we can take to reduce it for ourselves and those around us.

This year’s theme is community.

It has been chosen because lack of support can cause loneliness and isolation, which in turn lowers people’s wellbeing, impacts mental health and can lead to mental illness.

Social isolation is an important risk factor for both deteriorating mental health and suicide.

Although stress is not a mental health problem in itself, it is closely linked to mental health problems including anxiety and depression.

It is also linked to physical health problems like heart disease, problems with our immune system, insomnia and digestive problems.

Individually we need to understand what is causing us personal stress, identifying your triggers, and learn what steps we can take to reduce it for ourselves and those around us.

The most crucial thing you can do when you are stressed or anxious is to make sure you are continuing to look after yourself.

Make time to relax when you need to and learn to say no to requests that are too much for you.

How can you combat stress?

  • Talk about stress with friends, family and colleagues.
  • Identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts – the way we think about a situation affects the way we feel
  • Split large tasks up into smaller more achievable chunks
  • Share your coping mechanisms – if something has worked for you why not share it. It might benefit someone you care about and in the meantime it might help you take your focus off your own challenges.
  • Be nice to those who are stressed and anxious – we are all undoubtedly going to experience stress and anxiety in our lifetime so treat others going through with compassion and empathy.

Look after yourself, we all need to think more about self-care.

Take time out of your day to relax or do something that you enjoy.

Don’t forget to exercise and eat well, even when you feel too stressed.