The first Wednesday in November each year is National Stress Awareness Day, a day when we can reflect on our own health and well-being and seek advice or support on managing stress. The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1948 defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Interestingly this definition has not been amended in the last 70 years, indicating that our well- being is not a new concept, rather a central part of what it means to be healthy.
So what is stress and how does it affect our health and well-being? The English Oxford Dictionary defines stress as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances”. Demanding circumstances can take many forms (work or family life just being two examples) and affect us all at some point or another. However, it is when these pressures become overwhelming that our health and well-being can become affected and advice and support needed. Mind, the mental health charity, has a great website offering such advice and support
As I think though about National Stress Awareness Day, what are my reflections on my own health and well-being? How do I manage stress? Well, some of the measures I’ve found helpful are as follows: I am fortunate enough to be able to walk to and from work, giving me time to plan my day and then debrief myself on the way home. In work, I like to start the day with a to-do-list, prioritising all that needs doing that day. Outside of work, exercise and music play a large part in managing pressure, if only to distract me for a few moments. Does this mean that I don’t experience stress? No but it helps to manage it and I notice that when I haven’t been exercising or spending time outdoors that my well-being takes a knock.
It has also been helpful to look at Mind’s website and be reminded of the causes of stress, signs of stress and their tips to deal with stress both for me and for those I work with, family and friends. The website also has a really helpful download on how to manage stress that I would recommend anyone to read.
So on National Stress Awareness Day, take the opportunity to reflect on your own health and well-being and where needed, seek advice or support on managing your stress.