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Stress Awareness Week 2020: What have we learnt?

November 2020

As some of you may be aware, last week was Stress Awareness Week in the UK, and it could not have arrived at a more crucial time. Amidst the reintroduction of tighter lockdown measures, it continues to be vitally important that we take these opportunities to stop and reflect on the ways these changes are impacting our stress levels.

As Lawrence Stephens’ Mental Health Guardian, I took this opportunity to speak to a number of colleagues, clients, and friends about the key things they’ve learnt during this years’ Stress Awareness Week, and would like to share with you some of their key takeaways:

It’s important to create boundaries when working from home 

For those working from home, there’s little to distinguish the working day from the end of it, so it’s important to put some boundaries in place to avoid your work from spilling into your time to relax. This could involve moving your workstation from an area you’d normally relax in (such as the living room) to an entirely separate part of your home, making sure you take your full lunch break – perhaps to take a walk outside – or setting a radio alarm to signal the end of your working day.

It’s important to talk to others 

Even in more normal times, checking in on others (such as your colleagues, friends, and family) is incredibly important. When isolating, it’s difficult to ascertain how the lockdown measures are impacting those close to you, so it’s imperative that we reach out to others to lend support where needed. This could involve scheduling regular one-to-one Zoom meetings with your team members, or arranging virtual social activities.

This advice also extends to those with colleagues on furlough, as changing government measures could potentially induce a rise in stress levels. For more advice on supporting colleagues on furlough, read my advice advice here.

Keeping a diary or to-do list can help manage competing priorities 

With your professional life often spilling into your personal life when working from home (even more so for those with young children), keeping on track of your day-to-day priorities can be an effective way of managing your workload and the stress it can induce. Writing down your main goals for the day could help to set your day off to a positive start, as well as motivate you to check each one off your list.

At the end of the day, you’ll be able to visually see (and appreciate!) everything you achieve in a day. And then, be sure to give yourself a break!

It’s important to find a stress-reliever that works best for you 

New government measures could mean that you’re unable to take part in your favourite hobbies, so it could be worth exploring a range of new Covid-friendly hobbies and activities. These will be different for everyone, so give yourself some time to find out what works best for you.

I hope you found this special Stress Awareness Week discussion of value. If you’d like to discuss any of the points raised above, or find out more about how we could support you in managing your own or your colleagues’ stress levels, please do not hesitate to get in touch.