International Stress Awareness Month

For almost 30 years, April has been associated with identifying and mitigating stress. Stress is not a new phenomenon and has always been part of our lives. However, the unique challenges over the last 12 months have made stress more prevalent.

The theme for Stress Awareness Month 2021 is ‘regaining connectivity, certainty and control’ this is based on a study carried out over the last year which shows roughly 65% of people in the UK have felt more stressed since COVID restrictions were introduced in early 2020. The 3 biggest areas of concern for people were: feeling disconnected, uncertain, and a loss of control, [see article].

According to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. When you consider the effect stress has on both our physical and mental health, this is a real concern, [see article].

What can we all do to help lower our own stress and that of those around us?

  • Talk openly about stress and its effects to help reduce the stigma
  • Share your coping techniques, not every technique will work for everyone, but you could end up helping someone you care about
  • Be gentle, particularly to those who are stressed and anxious. We all experience these feelings so think about how you would want to be treated in these situations.
  • Look after yourself, take some time each day to relax and focus on yourself, find something that you enjoy
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What our own people say

We recently caught up with some of our own team to find out what they’ve been doing over the past year to help manage their stress:

Andrew Best, Manchester Laboratory
For me it’s a hilarious podcast that always helps me to destress and keep me focused. There’s a new one Alan Carr does called ‘Life’s a Beach’ which is great, it enforces not to take things too seriously and find the funny side.

Adam Lycett, Occupational Health and Hygiene
I am lucky enough to have a wood burner, it feels really relaxing when the fire is lit in the evening. You have the warmth of course, but staring into the flames feels calming, almost like meditation. There is also something about the ritual of clearing out the ashes, getting the fuel and building the fire that also give a sense of achievement.

Janette Dundon, Human Resources
I have started to fill in a journal at the end of every day, I take time to write down anything that’s bugging me and then to reflect on what I have enjoyed about the day / what I am pleased about. I’ve found it has helped me to feel in control and to off load.

Sam Boyce, Occupational Health
For me, it’s been the Daily Dose of Calm guided meditation playlist in the Aviva Wellbeing app, there is a selection of 5-minute meditation, which are perfect to do through the day when you have short breaks.

Fay White, Occupational Health
I have recently made more of an effort to take some time away from my computer screen, particularly while working from home. In the past it can be too easy to stay fixed at the desk for the duration of the day, but I now make sure that I spend some time doing a more physical activity every working day, such as cutting the grass or washing the car. Breathing in the fresh air and listening to the birds outside provides a relaxing break from juggling mental tasks. A great stress buster for me.

How can we help?

Promoting proactive measures can be a real benefit in the workplace but also think about your working culture and manage expectations for your colleagues. None of us ever really knows what the future holds, and some things are simply out of our control, but managing stress isn't. Building resilience is all about managing your energy levels, the more energy you have, the more resilient you can be.

If you think RPS can help you and your team manage your stress and overall wellbeing, please don't hesitate to get in touch with Ben at, ben.massey@rpsgroup.com.

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