April is Stress Awareness Month and an opportunity to reflect on how we deal with pressure, cope with stress, and whether there are better ways that we can manage. Stress is our reaction to a challenging situation or life event bringing about feelings of worry, threat, or that things are out of control.
In the 2022 NHS Staff Survey, 45% of staff reported that work-related stress resulted in feeling unwell, and 57% of staff attended work in the last three months despite not feeling well enough to perform their duties (NHS: NHS Staff Survey, 2023). Stress is one of the most commonly reported reasons for sickness absence in the NHS (NHS Digital, 2023).
There are various forms of stress impacting our day-to-day lives. So, what are the different types of stress? How can we recognise its impact? And, what can we do to help de-stress?
Stress takes many forms (Mind, 2022; Psychology Today, 2018).
- Acute stress occurs for a short period and involves intense feelings. It arises in light of a sudden and upsetting event – for example, an unexpected incident in the workplace or a bereavement.
- Episodic stress involves frequently facing stressful situations or triggers and being overwhelmed. For instance, this can involve burnout by frequently trying to meet excessive demands in a workplace or a family situation.
- Chronic stress is the severe form of stress, resulting from extended exposure to very challenging life circumstances, such as long-term unemployment, poverty, or abuse.
There are common ways in which our minds and bodies are impacted by stress (Lincolnshire Partnership, 2021). We might worry, have difficulty concentrating, or be indecisive. Stress results in muscle tension, fatigue, nausea, headaches, and difficulties with sleep. Others around us might notice that we are irritable, avoiding people, or simply not being ourselves. Although these are common patterns for people experiencing stress, importantly, we can have unique responses to stressors and challenging situations.
The NHS (2022) suggests ‘10 stress busters’ for you to consider:
- 1. Be active and exercise.
- 2. Take control by problem-solving.
- 3. Connect with people and build your support network.
- 4. Have some “me time” and relax.
- 5. Challenge yourself by trying new things and building confidence.
- 6. Avoid unhealthy habits like alcohol, smoking, and caffeine.
- 7. Helping other people and being kind can bring positive feelings.
- 8. Work smarter, not harder – prioritise your tasks and time effectively.
- 9. Try to be positive by writing things that went well and you are grateful for.
- 10. Accept the things you can’t change.
The Humber and North Yorkshire Resilience Hub are here to support staff with any wellbeing and psychological support you may need during these unprecedented times. The Resilience Hub provides support for healthcare, emergency services and social care workers with a unique understanding of the struggles being faced at this time.
Our staff are trained mental health professionals with extensive experience of working with people struggling with their mental health. Our team can offer access to quick and confidential 1-to-1 support, group or team support to staff and families living or working in the Humber and North Yorkshire region.
The HNY Resilience Hub will be delivering a group on ‘Reconnecting to your role’, supporting awareness of burnout and developing skills to cope and manage with stress. To access Hub support you can complete our wellbeing questionnaire to self-refer: Complete our wellbeing questionnaire – HNY Resilience Hub
To help support your wellbeing, you can also download our ‘HNY Our People App’. This is designed to maintain and improve the wellbeing and physical and mental health of staff by providing a range of self-help resources, with the tools to build healthy, positive habits into your everyday lives.
A series of weekly posts provide you with wellbeing advice and support; and our self-help catalogue, including a range of materials and podcasts, gives you the tools at your fingertips to help manage your wellbeing positively.