Recent events have been tough for everyone. As we continue to navigate our way through the pandemic, being mindful of managing stress levels and being aware of others who may be struggling is important.
Every person will have their own concerns and anxieties. This is true of day-to-day living but especially at a time where so many aspects of how we live are out of our direct control.
We couldn’t let International Stress Awareness Week pass by without a mention from SMART Garden Offices. We agree wholeheartedly with our friends in the NHS – every mind matters. Over the past few months there have been times where we have all felt the strain, but for some people managing stress is not easy.
With coronavirus keeping us from doing the things we love and seeing the people we care about, the mental health implications are very real.
Common Stress Symptoms
Stress affects us all, just in different ways. While a little stress is ok and can even be a motivator for some, too much can be a real drain and cause a variety of mental and physical stress symptoms.
In managing stress, it’s helpful to understand why we experience stress in the first place. Essentially, we develop stress symptoms when the body reacts to harmful situations. In the past few months, there have been plenty of circumstances that would trigger stress. It’s important to remember that if you’re somebody who suffers with stress, you’re not alone. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of us regularly feel overwhelmed or stressed.
A person’s reaction to stress is often referred to as ‘fight or flight’. What this means is, if we find situations stressful, our heart rate may increase, breathing changes, blood pressure rises, your muscles may tighten, and your body will react. It’s the body’s natural form of stress relief. In small doses, stress is useful. For example, you’re just about to pull out at a junction but think you see another vehicle coming, your heartbeat goes through the roof, and you slam on the breaks. That type of stress stops you from getting hurt. But other types of stress can have the opposite effect, and over time, cause people a great deal of mental and physical anguish.
Physical stress symptoms range from dizziness and headaches, through to teeth grinding, aches and pains, loss of appetite through to sleeplessness. Mental stress symptoms are far less obvious to others though and can be particularly tormenting to the person suffering. Depression and anxiety, irritability, racing thoughts and problems with decision-making and remembering, are all classic signs.
The Importance of Managing Stress
Left unmanaged, stress can become one of life’s biggest struggles. Being able to recognise your own stress levels and how to manage them is a good skill to have. It’s especially useful in controlling work related stress.
The best thing you can do is to put in place stress relief measures that work for you, and make sure you know your own stress symptoms.
Listen to what your body is telling you and try and make the connection between feeling tired or ill and the everyday pressures you’re facing. That niggling headache, neck pain and generally feeling flat, may well be your body’s way of telling you redress the balance.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, by work related stress or otherwise, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Don’t let the coronavirus situation put you off making contact. Your doctor will be able to assess your symptoms, rule out any other problems (e.g. thyroid issues) and recommend treatment options.
With work related stress, don’t be afraid to reach out to your employer either. You would be surprised how many managers have direct, relatable experience they’ll be able to draw on to offer a listening ear. An understanding manager should also support you in reducing work related stress.
Finding Ways to Reduce Your Stress
There are ten stress relief techniques recommended by the NHS, which we think are more relevant now than ever. These include:
- Being active. Although exercise will not make your stress disappear, being active can reduce the emotional intensity that you’re feeling. Even in a lockdown situation, it’s a good idea to engage in at least one type of exercise a day. Even if it’s a walk in your neighbourhood.
- Being in control. Many people who experience stress also report feeling a lack of control. Try identifying the things that are causing your stress, break them down and look for a solution to each. Often, it helps to put your thoughts to paper as a stress relief.
- Staying connected. We might not be able to see those we love, but having a good network of family, friends and colleagues offers a great stress relief. Why not schedule a Zoom call regularly. It doesn’t have to be a heavy conversation – you might choose to have a family quiz or just a catch up.
- Making ‘you’ time. In the UK, we work the longest hours in Europe. Key to managing stress is having some down time, especially when working from home. Make time for it – even if it’s just an hour a day.
- Challenging yourself. This may feel like the last thing you want to do whilst stressed, but why not set yourself some personal goals. Learn that language or start that new hobby! It’ll make managing stress easier by taking your mind off things.
- Avoiding unhealthy habits. Do not rely on alcohol, smoking or excess caffeine as a way of coping. Whilst these might offer a short-term fix, they can make stress worse.
- Helping others. If you have the time, charitable work or fundraising can offer a real mental boost. If you don’t have time for these activities though, try helping others with small gestures.
- Working smarter rather than harder. This is helpful in managing stress. Try writing a list of everything you need to do, prioritise, and tick off all the activities as you go. If you’re finding things hard to manage though, speak to your employer with some suggestions for changing the situation.
- Trying to be positive. This is not always possible for everyone, especially at the moment, but if you can, Occupational Health expert, Professor Cary Cooper recommends writing down three positive things you’ve achieved each day.
- Accepting change. Now, this is quite a big ask at the moment, but it does help if you can try and let go of what you’re unable to change. Instead, focus on what you can do to lessen the impact on your life.
Consider a Home Garden Office
One of the most effective forms of stress relief, of course, is changing your environment. Something you have got control over.
Studies show that visiting green spaces and being exposed to natural light can reduce stress, which a SMART garden office offers in abundance.
Not only this, but a SMART garden room also helps tick those ten tips for managing stress! One of the many reasons our customers chose a garden office is that it promotes wellbeing. Positioned correctly, natural light floods in during the day, whilst you enjoy uninterrupted views of the garden and peace and quiet when you need some downtime.
Many people choose to have a soft seating area alongside their desk for downtime. You might also choose a SMART deck so that you can open your workspace up to your garden, offering a natural stress relief.
To explore our range of garden offices, simply download our brochure. Choose from seven beautiful ranges available in 60 sizes, from just £7,944.
If you opt for a SMART Key Studio and purchase it before 31st December 2020, we will also donate £100 to NHS Charities Together, in recognition of the wonderful work of our NHS.