Things We’ve Noticed Lately About Stress

Six Things We’ve Noticed Lately About Stress

April is Stress Awareness Month. Here, six of our team share a short reflection on the subject, based on encounters with clients around the world. From working with bishops to aid workers, B-corporations to small charities, and CEOs to interns, here’s what we’ve seen…

Leanne Marega, CEO: “Stress levels seem to be unsustainable for many at the moment. A recent UK study found that 1 in 4 adults feel unable to manage stress levels. This reflects our experience globally too. If you’re one of these people, try to be aware that you can choose to ‘respond’ to stress rather than ‘react’ to it. By pausing to identify your feelings, stepping away from the source of your stress, and breathing slowly, it can help your rational brain take charge, tell your body ‘it’s ok to relax’, and from there choose how you want to respond.”

Graham Fawcett, Psychosocial Practitioner: “Among our clients who are aid workers, we tend to notice three main causes of stress: traumatic stressors (i.e. first-hand or indirect experience of life-threatening situations); chronic stressors (i.e. ongoing challenges like a lack of privacy, movement, or medical care); and organisational stressors (i.e. issues with management or team members, workload or resources). Often, the support they need is not necessarily counselling or therapy, but more for their managers to understand what they’re going through and to express solidarity in a thoughtful way.”

Ben Porter, Psychosocial and Wellbeing Lead: “Stress can be a good thing. It’s when it goes on too long and becomes distress that it is a problem. It takes a lot of awareness to know where you are on the ‘stress curve’ below, but it is helpful to look at it from time to time and reflect on where you are. It’s important to have some headroom, and to not routinely work beyond about 80% capacity. Change or a crisis may be around the corner, so you need a buffer to stay well.”

stress curve

Kristen Guskovict, Therapist: “When we’re stressed or feel threatened, we find it harder to listen and take on new information. In a team, this makes it harder for people to trust each other, to make decisions, to solve problems, and to get a clear picture of what’s going on. When working in a war zone or other dangerous location, this can place a team in greater danger. For staff who will work in places like this, it is crucial therefore that they learn about stress and how it impacts their work.”

Karen Abbs, Chief Thriving Officer: “Gratitude can be an antidote to stress. It might not surprise you that an attitude of gratitude can help increase your happiness and wellbeing. But it can also improve your sleep quality and immune system. It can strengthen relationships, make people kinder, and increase resilience in the face of challenges. And I think it’s important to remember that gratitude is not just an emotion, it’s an action: so take time to acknowledge and communicate appreciation to both yourself and others.”

Ted Lankester, Travel Health Doctor: “Time and again my colleagues and I meet people with a vocation who don’t take time to do the kinds of things that we all must do to stay healthy and avoid stress. Things like exercise, relaxation and eating well, and also seeking medical support in a timely way. This affects them physically and mentally, and can add up to personal and relational stress. Like we often say: people seem to spend more time, energy and money on servicing their cars than they do on their own bodies!”

Click here to explore courses available to you and your team this Stress Awareness Month.

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