- 43% of employees experiencing work-related stress suffer from loss of sleep because of it
- 39% of adults say they feel too stressed in their day-to-day lives
- 32% of employees increase their use of unhealthy substances to cope with stress
The past two years have been some of the most stressful many of us have ever had, and as we readjust to post-pandemic life it’s important to acknowledge the extra stress many of us have been subject to since 2020. This April has been Stress Awareness Month, and with this year’s theme of community we’re looking to spread the word to our own Harlequins community in the boroughs surrounding Twickenham and Richmond.
Our sense of community has suffered over the past few years in the face of social distancing and lockdowns, and for many months our Stoop remained closed to visitors. Our need for social contact and our inability to get it has been a monumental cause of stress for many of us during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s important to be aware of what stresses us out so that we know how to approach stressful situations. Unmanaged stress can contribute to mental health problems like depression and anxiety. In light of this we’ve put together a few ways you can manage your stress.
- Figure out what stresses you out, and what calms you
It’s difficult to do anything about stress if we have no idea what’s stressful in the first place. The first thing you should do in managing your stress is to have a think about what you find stressful, as well as what you personally find calming so that you can balance the two. Find time to set aside for your calming activities and avoid your stressors where possible.
Exercise promotes physical and mental health, as well as reducing stress. Find a way of being active that you enjoy or join a team and you’ll get the extra benefit of having fun and meeting new people. Don’t have much time to get out and about, or haven’t exercised for a while? Try these sitting exercises recommended by the NHS – they’re easy to follow and can be done anywhere from a chair.
- Set boundaries
It is important that we communicate our needs with the people around us – whether they’re family, friends or colleagues. As we become an ever-more digital world the expectation to be always available can be a constant source of stress for many of us. By setting aside time for ourselves and by communicating our boundaries clearly with those around us, we can reduce unreasonable expectations – and the stresses that come with them.
- Accept your imperfections
Nobody can be perfect – but we often expect ourselves to be. It is often the best way to learn, but when we make mistakes or take on tasks we’re not confident at, the fear of negative consequences can be immensely stressful. Accept that your best is good enough, and that things rarely need to be perfect. Practicing mindfulness can be a helpful way to achieve this; check out Mind’s page on mindfulness to find out more about the benefits it can have.
- Ask for help
When stress is overwhelming, one of the best things we can do is ask for help. You can ask the people around you to help lessen the burden of your stress – whether it’s by helping you take on tasks or just by lending an ear – or, if the stress is too much to handle, you can talk to your GP. When stress becomes unmanageable and gets in the way of your daily life, it may be time for professional help. Take note of your stressors before your appointment, your goals for seeking help, as well as any questions you might have about treatment options. Your GP will be happy to go through these with you.
At The Harlequins Foundation we’re passionate about mental wellbeing, and stress is a significant factor in mental health for all of us. Using sport as a vehicle we deliver several programmes designed to promote mental resilience and awareness of mental health in young people, throughout the Richmond area and the boroughs surrounding Twickenham Stoop. If you or someone you know could benefit from the work we do, please do get in contact by emailing us at email@example.com.