This month is Stress Awareness Month… and I, for one, have been very stressed lately… But more of that in a later post!
According to The Mental Health Foundation, 74% of adults in the UK have felt so stressed at some point in the last year, that they became overwhelmed and unable to cope. Research shows that 65% more of adults, have experienced this level of stress since the Covid-19 restrictions began in March of last year (2020). This research went on to find three key causes in stress development; disconnection, uncertainty and loss of control.
Stress is one of the greatest health challenges of our time, yet it is not taken as seriously as a physical health concern. Stress can be a significant factor in the development of mental health conditions; including anxiety and depression.
As well as playing a part in an individuals mental health, stress is also known to lead to physical health conditions too, such as:
- Heart disease
- Problems with the immune system
- Digestive problems
- Increased amount of headaches
Let’s take a look at three key causes of stress that were identified over the last year.
As I am sure you are all aware; the last 12 months have been very different in various ways. Not only have we had to stay away from our friends, family and loved ones and wear masks everywhere that we go, but many people have been forced out of work; whether that be on furlough and bringing home an 80% wage, or being let go from their job completely. Many other people have lost their lives to the virus or have had to go through these troubling times all on their own. To say that it has been hard is an understatement.
The first leading cause in the increased levels of stress, is disconnection.
This is completely understandable under the circumstances. People have been forced to shield and isolate and not to visit anyone for over a year now. People have lost touch with friends and loved ones, people have experienced relationship breakdowns and have slowly drifted apart from one another. This is bound to make us feel disconnected from each other and well as feeling disconnected from the world around us!
People have been relying on technology in order to communicate with each other via video calls and social media. However… what about the people who do not own this level of technology? How are they supposed to stay connected with the world?
Then we have the second key cause; uncertainty.
Uncertainty has definitely been something that we have all been very much aware of. When the news first erupted around Covid-19, no one knew that we would be in the position that we are in today. No one knew the impact that it would have on our lives. Then various rules started coming into place and we were all put under a national lockdown. The lockdown was lifted for a short while before making a comeback with larger restrictions in place. No one knew when things would start to get better, no one knew whether their jobs were safe, no one knew when they could see their loved ones again… weddings and funerals were given guest restrictions if not being cancelled altogether and we were no longer allowed to visit sick loved ones in hospital.
The not knowing, can be very stressful and worrying.
Lastly, loss of control.
Having virtually no say in what you can and cannot do in your own life is very frustrating and stressful. Being told where you can and cannot go and who you can and cannot see, is not the way of life that any of us ever imagined to live. Feeling as though you have no control in your life is not a nice feeling and it can lead to increased stress levels.
Therefore it is important to take advantage of the restrictions being slowly lifted! Make plans with loved ones and start going outside more and reconnecting with nature! I know it is still not the same, we are still unable to hug one another and sit indoors with each other, but this is still a positive step.
If you are unable to do this, why not write letters to loved ones? Send little gifts, call each other more and start reconnecting with those who you may have lost contact with over the last 12 months.
And start to reconnect with yourself! Find something new that you can love, revisit old hobbies, and make goals/plans that you have full control over.
And remember, that you are not alone, not now, not ever! There will always be someone willing to lend a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on. Together we can make it over the last hurdle and slowly ease ourselves back into the lives that we once knew.