We often hear about random awareness days and months. I mean, who even knew World Nutella Day existed? Some are quite amusing, and come and go along the way. Others are far more meaningful, and close to our hearts. Can you believe it was 30 years ago that Stress Awareness Month was created? And although there has been amazing work done around stress awareness, it remains one of those invisible illnesses that still require further focus, and investigation into the causes, cures, and treatments.
Over the past couple of years, the pandemic has highlighted, even more urgency for support for those who are suffering from stress, depression, anxiety, and other psychological conditions.
We have all gone through times of loneliness, fear, and an overwhelming sense of isolation at some point. Even if we have continued to work throughout, and been lucky enough to have our loved ones around us.
Our lives have been disrupted in a way we have simply never experienced before. And although restrictions have lifted, and we are stepping into whatever the new norm may bring, the effects of being cut off from our social circles and usual support mechanisms are yet to be fully realised.
Despite this, one thing the pandemic brought us was plenty of examples of community spirit and people pulling together to just keep going.
So, it’s great to see that the theme for this year’s Stress Awareness Month is ‘Community.’
After all, humans are pack animals! We are not supposed to be alone. Isolation and solitude create other negative traits, such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and stress.
Is there any wonder then, that these have increased so dramatically?
Why is stress awareness so important?
One of the biggest problems with such conditions as stress, is that those who are experiencing it are often still scared or embarrassed to talk about their feelings.
Or else they simply don’t know how to start the conversation, or with whom.
Some may even not recognise how they are feeling as ‘stress’.
We already know around 800 million people worldwide suffer from emotional or mental health issues. And recent economic studies estimate that those same conditions cost British businesses £8bn per year in lost workdays.
But more concerning for those who work to promote stress awareness is, how many more cases go undiscovered? What is the real cost in lives and to individuals, not just in terms of the financial impact?
What can businesses do to offer more support for mental health and stress awareness?
Here at Space2BHeard, we have a valued interest in people, individuals, companies, and employers who work in and around stressful environments.
We work proactively with local businesses, and individuals who have a responsibility for employee mental health and wellness, to eradicate any remaining stigma and sense of fear in raising the subject, or openly managing such issues as stress awareness in the workplace.
Apart from the reticence in admitting to stress, depression, or other such conditions, another challenge individuals face is not actually knowing they are stressed. It can present itself in a variety of ways, and can go unnoticed for a long period of time before feeling the eventual need to seek help.
A sense of community, belonging, and an open and inclusive business culture goes a long way toward your team feeling valued, and creating a happy work environment.
But what else can you do to ease stress and increase stress awareness in the workplace?
If the concept of raising awareness and acceptance of mental health and wellbeing within your company seems too much like hard work, you might want to consider the benefits to the business.
Fewer cases of work-related anxiety, depression, and absences due to mental health are the tip of the iceberg. All of which, if nothing was done, would eventually cause more unnecessary stress and the ongoing cycle of absenteeism and loss of bottom line profits.
We would like to think most business owners and employees are beyond that blinkered view now though, and would actually be looking at ways of working towards a stress-free environment that will maintain balanced mental health and wellbeing.
For instance, promoting a positive culture around understanding others. Encouraging a genuine team ethos. Working more closely together, and cross-skilling, rather than allowing a ‘silo’ mentality that naturally fosters isolation.
Now a final but no less important point, is to highlight the relevance of physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing throughout your entire workforce.
Move More Month
Yes, you might refer back to the very first paragraph, and wonder what this is all about! But April is Move More Month (the irony is not lost on us that you might need to move more to burn up some of the calories you’ve taken on devouring your share of chocolate eggs).
Why are we bringing this to your attention?
Because of the simple fact that being as physically active as you can be is great not only for the body, but also for the mind as well. Movement goes hand in hand with mental health.
Exercise increases endorphins, which in turn helps trigger a positive mood boost and reduce stress and anxiety.
According to verywellmind.com, physical exercise can fend off mental health problems before they arise. And exercise can also be as effective, in the treatment of some psychological conditions, as medication.
Remember that staying physically healthy also helps with mental wellbeing, so it is worth developing healthy habits now for long term benefits. The activity doesn’t have to be physical exertion, high-intensity workouts, or sprint sessions. Exercise that promotes mindfulness, such as Yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi will work just as well. So, there is no reason to avoid it, even if you are not as mobile as others, or you just don’t enjoy the gym environment.
How Space2BHeard helps promote stress awareness and mental health for all
Our team at Space2BHeard is experienced in working with individuals, business owners, Learning and Development teams, and HR specialists, in all aspects of mental health and wellbeing – privately and in the workplace.
It may be Stress Awareness and Move More Month during April, but our work continues all year-round. Our vision and mission are built around ensuring positive mental health provisions and services are available for all, both now and in the future.
We are a not-for-profit organisation aiming to bring professional counselling, psychotherapy, and wellbeing services to businesses and communities in and around Hull.
Our wealth of knowledge and experience in managing mental health, emotional and psychological distress, means we can tailor our services to your individual needs.
Additionally, our recent article How to support mental health and wellness in the workplace also outlines our options for individual and group sessions to assist and educate those responsible for providing a bespoke support function in a work environment.
If you are local to Hull and the East Riding area, please do not hesitate to contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org for further support or information about stress awareness, or any of our services. No matter how it may feel, you are not alone.