Stress Awareness Month: Recognising the red flags!

It’s stress awareness month – 30 days dedicated to raising awareness of the causes and pressures of our modern stress epidemic!

Let’s face it, the last two years have been the most challenging we have ever faced. Therefore, we wanted to share with you some of our nifty tips to recognise our stress red flags and ways to soothe and calm during a stressful situation.

We asked the team three questions, this is what they had to say!

  1. How do you recognise your stress red flags?

    Emma –  When I feel overwhelmed or stressed my body lets me know straight away – I get acid reflux

    Michelle – If I can’t switch off from ‘work’ mode easily, still sit at my desk late into the evening or at my desk earlier than 8 am for example. Wake up in the middle of the night and think of my to-do list. My friends start to say they haven’t heard from me in a while or it takes me days to respond in group chats! 

    Lou – Eating habits and diet go out of the window and getting out of bed in the morning is a real challenge – the snooze button gets pressed a lot.  If it gets really bad the wine consumption goes through the roof but I’m not drinking at the moment so hopefully, that will see an improvement in stress and anxiety. 

    Julie – For me, number one is sleep! I usually sleep like a baby, but if I’m waking up in the middle of the night I know I’ve got a problem! Secondly, it’s diet! If I’m just grabbing the quickest thing to eat and not eating healthily then my body soon tells me. And finally, it’s as if after a long day I’ve realised I’ve not actually left my desk!

    Becca – My biggest must be that my anxiety flares up, usually presenting itself around 2 -3 am for a good couple of hours. I also find that after work, I just don’t want to do anything, particularly things good for me like the gym or going for a run!

2. What do you do to de-stress?

Emma – To de-stress I take a long walk either along the beach or in the mountains – I find it very meditative

Michelle – Go for a walk with my dog, he’s a big dog so he needs a decent amount of exercise so it’s a great excuse to get out for an hour at lunchtime and go for a walk around a local reservoir or canal path. Watch something on TV that doesn’t require any thought! At night I read a couple of chapters of a fiction book before bed to help switch my mind off from the day and relax into sleep. 

Lou – meditation app like Calm, listen to personal development podcasts – loving Diary of a CEO and Dr Ronan Chatterjee at the moment.  Have one massive weekly to-do list but work with a daily 5 things to do each day list, which are the urgent things.  

Julie – Getting out for a walk with my lovely two dogs, and spending time with my family. My final one is escapism, anything that I can binge on TV series wise

Becca – I’m a doing person.. meaning that when the tough bits hit, I have to get stuff done and then I feel much calmer. I usually start with a priority list and get those bits done first. I force myself back to the gym, which really helps! 20 minutes of cardio then I’m back to my bouncy annoying self 😊. I also find cleaning the house from top to bottom helps me too (maybe I should start a Clean-Tok channel?) 

3. What ways do you find work well when under pressure to remain calm?

Emma – I write a list and allocate time in my diary to get everything done – then just focus the next action, rather than trying to get everything done at once

Michelle – Getting a full to-do list out of my head on a Monday morning and onto paper – I then assign tasks each day with the aim to complete the page (or two!) of tasks by the end of the week. Assigning time to work through emails – 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon, the rest of the time I try to switch them off and focus on tasks, not my distracting inbox! 

Lou – Pomodoro Technique – work for 25 mins and then get up for 5 mins.  Every 4 blocks of 25mins take a 20min break. Take a walk or in my case hobble at lunchtime. 

Julie – I go back to basics, I get everything that’s buzzing around in my head onto paper. Then I prioritise it! I try to be disciplined and block out time in my diary, to focus on my list. Finally, it’s more than likely that if I’m stressed, then my team is more than likely to be stressed also! So making sure I check in with my team and see how they’re doing is so important.

Becca – I remind myself that, I work to live. Yes, I have a huge passion for what I do and want to do my very best, but there are other sides to my life than just work (family, friends, my health) and those matter the most.. which is hard to see when we’re snowed under and major deadlines loom. I then write a big list, remind myself of the hours I have to get them done and try to stick to it.

We’d love to hear your techniques so make sure you tweet us or get in touch! Or find out more ways to centre wellness in your work life by attending CHS Leeds on Tuesday 24 May 2022!

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