This content has been produced by DeltaV Partners.
Stress is a chemical response. Regardless of the stimuli, internal, external or environmental, our human response is always the same.
When we experience a stimuli, confrontation or physical trauma, the nervous system instructs our bodies to release stress hormones, including adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. These produce physiological changes to help us cope with the threat or danger we see to be upon us. This is called the ‘stress response’ or the ‘fight-or-flight’ response.
What are the effects of stress?
Everyone experiences stress but it affects individuals in different ways. When it is impacting your health and wellbeing, it’s time to act. Symptoms vary from person to person but here’s some to look out for:
- Feelings of constant worry or anxiety
- Feelings of being overwhelmed
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood swings or changes in your mood
- Irritability or having a short temper
- Difficulty relaxing
- Low self-esteem
- Eating more or less than usual
- Changes in your sleeping habits
- Using alcohol, tobacco or illegal substances to relax
- Aches and pains, particularly muscle tension
- Diarrhoea and constipation
- Feelings of nausea or dizziness.
Are there any benefits?
Well, the simple answer is yes, however there’s a fine balance. In some cases, small amounts of stress can be incredibly useful and can help us to perform at our best. Remember that our response to stress used to keep our cave-dwelling ancestors alive, and keeps us alive today (in extreme cases).
When our bodies react to stressful situations, hormones such as adrenaline or cortisol are released which can have the following benefits:
- Increase mental alertness
- Sharpen decision making
- Increase blood flow to muscles
- Increase concentration
- Lengthen attention span.
These hormones trigger the fight or flight response that can help our minds and bodies achieve incredible things.
Managing levels of stress
A great way to control stress is to think about situations or events that you face from the perspective of the locus of control.
The locus of control labels life events or situations into three categories:
- Those you can control such as finances, diet, how you use your time or perhaps the people that you socialise with.
- Those you can only influence in the future, but not yet control, such as your job, where you live, the car you drive, or the behaviours and actions of people around you.
- Those you have no control over, like the weather, world events, traffic, bad luck, and our current work-life situation.
It is easy to become stressed or anxious about situations that we have no control or influence over… there’s certainly a few examples at the moment. These thoughts are known as ‘task-irrelevant’ because they take up valuable head-space when we are trying to manage our mental health and maintain productivity while working from home.
For example, with your current work situation, how often do you find yourself distracted by what’s going on? This is a task-irrelevant thought. That’s not to say it’s not important, but for your levels of stress, it’s essential to manage these.
People who are very good at managing stress are able to distinguish between things they can control or influence and those they cannot. If they can control a situation and take action, they will. If they cannot, they try to forget about the distraction and do not allow themselves to worry about it.
Tips to manage stress while working from home
- Plan your day. Include everything such as work tasks, breaks, lunch and exercise. Share and discuss this with your family as the current situation affects everybody in the household.
- Exercise! Whether that be in your home, garden or outside (following the physical distancing restrictions). Drop your session in at an appropriate time when you know you’ll need it.
- Keep track of how you’re feeling. We recommend this 365 days a year, but especially now. There are so many potential stressors, so document, discuss and create an action. Yet again, involve everybody in the household.
- Rest well! The line between home and work has become very blurred. Ensure you structure your working day to have a clear start and finish, with times to rest throughout the day.
- Limit stress inducing foods. These include processed sugar, processed carbohydrates, excess caffeine and alcohol. Limiting these will have numerous health benefits as well as helping your stress levels.