Stress: the five questions you need to ask yourself
Words by Steve Rowe, lead senior support advisor at NABS
This year’s Mental Health Awareness week, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, has a focus on stress. The impression is that by tackling stress, we can go a long way towards tackling mental health problems too, leading to the charity’s question, “Stress: are we coping?”
The fact they’re asking suggests the answer might be “no”.
At NABS many of our Advice Line callers are facing some level of stress. That may be trying to handle a tricky work issue or seeking guidance in the face of redundancy.
As the prompt by the Mental Health Foundation is a question – “are we coping?” – I too started thinking about questions, in particular those we ask while working on the Advice Line to help people best manage their situations, their stressors and their mental health.
Here are five which have really helped our callers navigate their way through stressful times.
1. What do you need most at the moment from a) work b) friends & family and c) your GP?
Your company is only able to make a difference if they know what’s going on, so it’s worth considering sharing issues with your manager or HR team and also considering what could help. This could include more time working from home, a different project or different working hours for a short period.
With friends and family, you may want their wall of arms around you or some time alone to figure things out.
And consider booking an appointment with your GP. They might explore if you’d benefit from taking time off work to focus on your health or suggest appropriate medication or therapies.
2. How can you best look after yourself at the moment?
Get back to basics and try to “re-set”. This could mean exercise, sitting quietly, reading, surrounding yourself with people, writing things down, cooking or anything else that feels appropriate for your own self-care. If you feel on top of things you’re passionate about, you may find the stressful areas of life become less troublesome too.
3. What feels manageable for you at the moment?
It doesn’t matter that at some point in the past you’ve been able to spin dozens of plates all at the same time. That was then and this is now, so consider what feels manageable today and if just getting out of the house for some fresh air feels manageable, that’s more than okay.
4. When have you previously overcome a stressful period?
Perhaps you’ve had a previous period of transition in your life, money worries or a mountain of work. Can you draw on any of your own experiences where you’ve overcome difficult times? Can you apply any of those techniques now.
5. How could you regain a sense of control over your situation?
It’s possible to feel out of control, and as a consequence feel stressed if you don’t have enough information on all of your options. Consider how you could find out more information so you can make informed decisions and feel more in control. NABS may be able to help with sourcing information or point you in the right direction.
NABS’ services exist to support everyone in the industry whether that’s to help them cope a little bit better, recover from a time of particular distress or ensure they continue to thrive. The five questions above might encourage another perspective on your circumstances but remember to keep NABS in mind; an impartial chat with someone a stage removed from your situation might help make all the difference.