1 in 4 adults (at least) suffers from a mental health issue at some point in their life. More are talking openly about it or seeking help and many employers are now paying heed to how well-being impacts performance. However, with lawyers and other professionals such as business owners, doctors and teachers, amongst the most stressed professionals, I believe it is time to stop hiding.
There still appears to be some taboo about mental health with many people preferring not to talk about it or admit to it in surveys - and yet the entire population can be affected by it. Without a doubt, life and work can become very hectic, demanding, tiresome and worse.
Some of you who can relate to this – or know someone who could - have taken the step of seeing a GP and receiving relevant support or treatment. Self-management is also an option for those with mild depression, stress and anxiety. By this, I mean learning more about stress, how it affects you and how you “manage” it at present. Some turn (unhelpfully) to alcohol, others to food, some to excess medication. More beneficially, some turn to exercise or talking to friends whilst others still don’t accept they are overly stressed. They do nothing but, inevitably, those around them can “feel” the stress they project.
Some stress, as you may know, is helpful. For example, reasonable stress before an exam may encourage a commitment to revision or a work deadline may be an attractive driver for you. In my experience, if you are willing to learn some of the tools that can to manage stress you can perform more effectively at work and in life - and be more focused.
Now, I’d like to add that stress is subjective – what is stressful for one person is not necessarily stressful for
another. Take, for example, Jane who has a deadline to complete the drafting of an important agreement with a new client and her 3 year old child is sick at home with a nanny who has to travel home to see her elderly parent. Here, there are several events that may “stress her out.” Is it a given that she WILL be stressed or does it depend on other things such as her mind-set, her team, her client’s empathy, her resilience and so on?
We all take on stress differently and we may feel more in control of some stress than other stress. A fire in a shopping centre where you are stuck is less in your control and could cause immense stress – what is in your control in this scenario is how you consider (think about) getting away safely.
Understanding what stress is, your triggers for it, your resultant behaviours together with management tools, often provide great support to developing resilience. Take 20 minutes today to consider these – they could help you to take control and manage your next stressful situation more effectively. Greater awareness gives you greater control. Be smart – if a voice inside you suggests seeing your GP, go. What have you got to lose?
Here are 10 simple things you can try to help with stress and keeping your mind-set more positive.
1. Smile: Smiling activates neural signals that lead to greater happiness.
2. Pause: Consciously pause with awareness. It seems hard but, pause. Try.
Notice your breathing as it is, then slowly move to 3 deep breaths
in and out, then 4 in and 4 out.
3. Strengths: Take 20 minutes, uninterrupted in personal space, to write down
your strengths and skills; Accept them truly, acknowledge them. Revel in them. No “buts…”; know your triumphs from or beyond the classroom.
4. Acceptance: Accept that not everything goes the way we want it to all of the
time, nor do we have all the skills we may desire right this moment. Perhaps you’re frustrated with a pupil or workload. Ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen or what can I do to develop. Then, act.
5. Awareness: Where does stress affect your body? Notice where the tightness,
anxiety or tension is. Take a moment to notice and, if possible, place a hand on the spot you feel it the most. Remain in this position, eyes closed if possible, focused, for up to 10 seconds or more. (if you don’t want anyone to notice, do it sat down at your desk, your gaze simply lowered.)
6. Sleep: Ensure you have enough quality sleep despite the marking and planning.
Where does exhaustion leave you? Review your routine and screen time before bedtime. Do something relaxing and enjoyable even for 5 minutes before bed. Your phone may have a bedtime app reminder.
7. Exercise: Exercise or walk, especially outdoors, perhaps 5 minutes with a peer at
Lunchtime or more at the weekend. Getting close to nature, in the open, can have uplifting effects on the mood.
8. Journal: There is always something that went well in a day, or something/someone
that made you smile (perhaps you made someone else smile) – writing these positives can support mental well-being and perspective
9. Eat/Drink well: Understand which foods potentially add to stress or tiredness for
you and which boost your energy and mindset. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Substitute at least one cup of coffee/tea for water too. Dehydration affects clarity, mood and behaviour - and energy levels.
10. Connect: Connect with others – friends, family, peers. Talk or share activities
where you can be yourself and have fun or just offload. Savour the joy. No “buts..”
To explore the part that this, or coaching, can play to your development, contact me in confidence: firstname.lastname@example.org
This content is for information purposes only and does not include medical or other advice. If in doubt, speak to your GP.
© Anita Gohil-Thorp