Tips for Identifying and Managing Stress

What Is Stress?

Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992, to help raise awareness about the causes of stress and treatments of stress. Stress is generally defined as the body and minds reaction to pressure. Stress can be caused by a variety of circumstances and events, there is not one particular cause.
Examples of situations that commonly cause feelings of stress include; work, deadlines, certain social settings, loss and bereavement, transport, money, relationships, changes of lifestyle and home life. Stress is most of the time associated with work and money. People deal with stress in different personalised ways, through exercise, socialising, hobbies, meditation, holidays, drinking, substance abuse and other vices.

Why Is Tackling Stress So Important?

Feeling stressed is very common and the vast majority of us will experience feelings of stress. Below is a list of mental and physical symptoms, along with certain behaviour changes caused by stress, that the NHS lists on its website.

feeling overwhelmed
constantly worrying
being forgetful
being irritable and snappy
headaches or dizziness
muscle tension or pain
stomach problems
chest pain or a faster heartbeat
sexual problems
sleeping too much or too little
eating too much or too little
avoiding certain places or people
drinking or smoking more

If left unresolved and allowed to continue, studies have revealed stress can have a lasting impact on health and wellbeing.  

The Mental Health Foundation provide some top tips for helping yourself when you are feeling stressed. These include

Identifying when stress is becoming a problem and correlations to your current lifestyle
Considering the changes you can make in your life to reduce stress.
Forming positive relationships so you have a support network of people you can turn to when stressed.
Maintaining a healthy diet. 
Monitor your consumption of alcohol and cigarettes.
Regular exercise and physical activity.
Ensuring you make time for rest and relaxation.
Practicing mindfulness with activities such as meditation. 
Ensuring you get enough quality sleep. 

The NHS have also provided a fantastic and free mood self-assessment tool which should help you to pinpoint how you are feeling. It is important to seek help from a medical professional if stress is prominent and negatively impacting your life. There are many forms of help available to assist with stress, such as counselling and CBT. 

Teaching and Stress

It is undeniable that teaching can be a demanding and stressful profession. Research carried out by the Health and Safety Executive revealed school staff are some of the most stressed workers in Britain. In 2012, The Guardian conducted research into stress and the teaching profession. It was found that the number of teachers who were absent from the classroom due to stress had increased by 10% over the previous 4 years. It was also discovered that 15 local authorities had witnessed a 50% increase in stress-related absence. 

Some of the most common causes of stress for teachers are; workload, lack of support, too many responsibilities, bullying, assessments and lack of free time. School leaders can implement a range of ideas to support staff suffering with stress.

  • SLT should review marking policies to ensure teaching workload is manageable. 
  • Shared work schemes and shared curriculum resources to help reduce time spent on lesson planning implemented by SLT.
  • Providing staff with treats such as sweets, chocolates, biscuits and fresh fruit to boost morale.
  • Implement wellbeing policies, action plans and activities for staff. Kent-Teach are able to assist with this. Don’t hesitate to contact our Wellbeing Advisors for impartial advice on introducing a wellbeing culture to your school.

If you are feeling stressed at work, it is important to talk about how you feel. You may find it helpful to tell your line manager, or a member of SLT, as they may be able to help you put in place strategies to help you manage your stressors, reduce your workload, or support you with a specific workplace problem, that is playing on your mind. You may also wish to consider contacting free counselling services, such as support line, not only are they there to listen and provide confidential support, they can also help you put in strategies to manage what life throws at you.

It is important to be honest with people around you if you are feeling pressured, they may be able to help you minimise certain parts of your life causing stress. It is also important that you learn your limits in terms of  the level of stress you can manage with and what will push you beyond your limits so you can stay in control of your workload and your home life. 

Stress and Physical Activity

We asked the team at Kent Sport about Stress Awareness Week and how physical activity can positively impact stress. Kent Sport emphasises the importance of physical activity as one of the key components to manage stress levels. Whether you like to play sport, hit the gym or prefer a nice stroll in nature, being active boosts our mood, helps manage stress and keeps both our mind and body healthy!

If you require further support and advice, our blog article ‘Support and Services in Kent’ signposts key services Kent residents can access. 

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