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Stress Management, Resilience - Working from HomeStress Management, Resilience - Working from Home

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Below are some extracts from our Stress Management, Resilience - Working from Home manual.

What is Stress?


Stress is…        
“the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed upon them“

 -Health and Safety Executive (HSE)


It is also commonly described as:


Every individual experiences different levels of stress, and can experience stress in different ways. To manage our mental health and wellbeing, at work and at home, it is essential to understand where our stress comes from and how to interrupt the cycle of stress.

 

Quantifying Stress


Sometimes it can be difficult to articulate how you feel to others, especially when you are suffering from the cognitive load imposed by high pressure situations and stress. One way to make this easier is to use a scaling method.

The scaling method is called Subjective Units of Discomfort. It’s used by doctors to help them and their patients understand and compare levels of pain. It’s subjective because people respond to pain (or stressful situations) in different ways but is a great communication tool when discussing stress management.

The goal is to make changes so that the score reduces. 

The Holmes-Rahe Stress Test

Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe

The Holmes-Rahe stress test is used to measure the effects of life events on a person’s stress level and health. Every Life Change Unit (LCU) has a different 'weight' for stress. The higher the score, and the larger the weight of each event, the more likely you are to become ill.

This method is an interesting measure to assess overall stress and the affect it is having. Try searching online for “Holmes Rahe stress test” for a range of tools and resources to assess your stress levels.


The Impact of Stress

Some stress is normal, but high levels of stress for extended periods can have serious implications in both your working life and home life.

Chronic/un-dealt with stress causes Adrenal Fatigue which can cause Hypocortisolism (a low production of your stress hormone). Your adrenals sit on top of your kidneys and produce a variety of hormones including cortisol and adrenaline. When you're stressed your brain tells your adrenals to release cortisol into your blood steam so you can adapt and respond properly to the stressor. This is good. However, if you're constantly stressed (chronic) your adrenals get fatigued and therefore are unable to properly produce enough cortisol.

Professional Impact


Some examples of how long-term stress can impact your work life:

Personal Impact



Some examples of how long-term stress can impact your home life:


Symptoms of Stress

Symptoms are the signals or signs your body gives to tell you there is too much pressure. Everyone experiences different symptoms of stress, and it is important to recognise your own stress patterns so you can act to interrupt the cycle.

Some common symptoms of stress:


 

Sources of Stress


Below are some common examples of sources of stress:


 

Interrupting the Stress Cycle

To successfully interrupt the stress cycle and create lasting changes to your wellbeing routine, it is important to first identify your personal stressors.

This can be a difficult task, as it requires self-reflection and honesty. However, by finding the precise source of your stress, you can then begin to implement strategies to manage and reduce the impact of the stressor in your life.

Sometimes stress can be so overwhelming that it becomes extremely difficult to pinpoint the exact source or personal stressor. Remember, even small lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on your stress levels at work and at home, so identifying even one small area where you’d like to make changes is beneficial. Once you begin, you will find that those small changes often naturally develop as you change your mind set about stress and wellbeing.



The Stress Bucket – a Wellbeing Visualisation


 

The stress bucket is a visual that can help us address the balance of our wellbeing. If we are put under too much pressure, or situations change quickly, our bucket can ‘fill up’ with too much stress, and this is when we start to see more severe impacts of stress.

It is essential, especially in times of high stress, to be creating ‘holes’ in our stress bucket. These ‘holes’ can come in many forms, from mentally reframing the way you think about a problem, to spending time recharging your emotional reserves by chatting to friends or exercising.

In an ideal world, we aim for equilibrium, where the amount of stress we experience is mitigated by stress strategies and our own personal resilience. This process is different for every individual, so it is important to identify the strategies that work best for you, and to keep adapting this over time as your lifestyle, priorities and motivations change.

 

Reframing Negative Thoughts and Beliefs

Cognitive Distortions

Cognitive distortions are biased perceptions we take on ourselves and the world around us. They are usually subtle but irrational patterns of thought that we unknowingly reinforce over time.

It is normal human nature to fall into the trap of distorted thinking. Recognising and modifying these faulty patterns of thinking, before they lead to unmanageable levels of anxiety and stress, is essential.

As with any new skill, reframing your thoughts to moderate cognitive distortions takes time and practice, but is a powerful tool when tackling the impact of stress.

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