Today, we’ll look at the core subject of Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 – Stress.
Stress can often be confusing, because it sounds as if it’s a medical diagnosis, of a specific ailment. It is, however, a bit more complicated than that. The confusion can often arise as there are many stories of people being signed off work, by their GP, with “STRESS, 2 WEEKS OFF” written on their Doctors note!
Stress is very different to pressure. Pressure, such as deadlines, reminders or high activity for short periods of time can help us to achieve goals, either alone or in groups. You may have heard someone say “I work best when I’m under pressure”. That can be true for some people – but not permanently.
Stress can occur when pressure builds up so much, it places us in a situation we believe is too much to handle. This makes it very personal, so it’s always important to remember that something you don’t get stressed by, may stress someone else! This isn’t a failing in the other person, nor does it mean you can’t ever face stress. It just means we all are “triggered” or “pushed” by different things.
Sometimes a problem on a given day, such as receiving some bad news, can push us quicker than usual into a situation with stress. If you are walking across the road, and a car suddenly hurtles towards you, the stress can cause you to jump out of the way into safety – so small events can sometimes be beneficial!
Stress is a collection of issues and they can have some immediate effects, which can turn into long-term if not dealt with. Some of the more well-known issues that can develop with medium-to-long-term stress are around sleep deprivation, problems with your diet and mental health difficulties – which then can affect each other and make the situation worse.
A first contact to deal with pressure you think is getting to much can be in your workplace, such as a Mental Health First Aider and your Line Manager. At home with your friends or family, or with your GP if you feel your health is being affected.
MHFA England has some great tools and advice on Stress, you can find a toolkit in the link below:
Tomorrow we’ll continue this theme, and look at fatigue and burn-out, and consider some of the other common mental health issues you may experience.