April is Stress Awareness Month but we all know too well that it feels like stress month every month.
Our stressful, fast-paced lives causes adrenaline and cortisol to surge and course through our bodies all day long, which left unaddressed can have devastating consequences. In the short-term you will start to notice this having a negative impact on things such as sleep, productivity at work, relationships, decision-making, sex drive and energy levels. Over the long-term, lifestyle induced diseases could catch up with you such as heart disease, stroke, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
According to a study by the Mental Health Foundation in conjunction with YouGov UK in 2018, 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope. The effect was seen more visibly in younger generations than it was in the older generations and the behavioural consequence of stress affected people’s eating behaviour (46%), alcohol consumption (29%) and smoking habits (16%).
In line with the growing emergence of suicide in young people, this same study highlighted that of the people who said they had felt stress at some point in their lives, 32% said they had had suicidal thoughts.
Interestingly the top 2 causes of stress was ‘perceived pressure to succeed’ and ‘comparison to others’, which for both factors was cited highest in young people aged 18-24 at 60% and 49% respectively. The pressure to succeed was still high at 41% for 25-34 year olds but by comparison only 17% of 45-54 years olds and 6% of 55 year olds feel this is a causal factor, leading me to believe the emergence of social media is too perfectly timed to be a coincidence. It also reflects the ongoing challenge we have with millennials and Gen Z who will make up half of the workforce by 2020.
Top Causes of Stress in the UK 2018
Workplace Wellness programmes should be designed around the root causes of stress within your organisation and the demographic of people working for you. Causes of stress and definitions of wellness will be different for each individual and will be a blend of home-life and work-life factors. But with the right insights you can then develop more of a bespoke programme which will help alleviate the principal causes of the problems as opposed to a one-size fits all plaster-based approach.
In my next blog I will be listing my top tips for reducing stress at work and home. For the time being, I wanted to share a quick 4-step process to reduce stress when you are feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope. All you need to remember is ‘RISE’!
R – Recognition- when you find yourself in a stressful situation just pause and recognise how you are feeling physically in your body and what is going on in your mind.
I – Inhale- taking big diaphragmatic breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth (out- breath should be longer than the in-breath) you will communicate to your body that it is not in danger.
S – Select- you can’t control much in life but you can control how you choose to perceive and respond to situations
E – Execute- live your desired behaviour in a positive, controlled and proactive manner instead of being reactive