Stress Awareness Month 2021
Today marks the beginning of Stress Awareness Month. This annual campaign aims to increase public awareness about both the causes of stress and the different ways you can overcome it. Here at Natta, we would like to open up a conversation about stress. Not only to raise awareness but to help in reducing the stigma surrounding it.
Causes of Stress
Stress can be caused by a variety of factors including an uncertain time or being under a lot of pressure. Sometimes it can even be caused by a positive event that carries a big change in your life. It can manifest itself in several ways and many people experience it differently.
Stress plays a significant role in mental health issues and can also be linked to your physical health such as heart disease or problems with the immune system. This Stress Awareness Month, it is important that we can discuss the factors that cause stress openly and work together on developing coping mechanisms to deal with it.
Stress within the workplace
One of the places people can feel stressed is within the workplace. This can have a great impact on an individual’s mental health and quality of life. However, it can also affect aspects of the organisation such as staff absence and colleague relationships. This is why Natta believes it is hugely important to have a healthy work-life balance and are always encouraging employees to take time for themselves.
Within the Natta Head Office, we have a gym and break-out room available to employees to ‘work out’ some stress or simply take some needed time away from their desk. Each year, we also celebrate Wellness Week. This is to encourage employees to take care of themselves. To learn new ways in which they can continue to ensure their wellbeing, whether it be health-related or stress management.
Activating your Vagus Nerve
Stress may not always be avoidable but it is manageable. It is vital to understand what the cause is to take the right steps to reduce it. A great way of helping to deal with stress is breathing techniques. Breathing deeply immediately relaxes the body because it stimulates the vagus nerve. The nerve runs from the neck to the abdomen and is in charge of turning off the ‘fight or flight’ reflex. Activating your vagus nerve, starts the bodies relaxation response, reducing your heart rate and blood pressure. It is proven that deep breathing turns on the vagus nerve enough that it acts as a brake on the stress response. So the more we stimulate or activate it, by deep breathing, the more we stop the effects of the sympathetic nervous system. The ideal, most calming way to breathe is 5 seconds in and 5 seconds out. So the next time you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed if you consciously slow down your breathing just for one minute, or even a few seconds, you can put yourself in a calmer state, to be able to better cope and communicate.
The following video from Headspace is an easy step-by-step tutorial to help you activate your vagus nerve and practice mindful breathing.
Other ways in which you can overcome stress
Here are a few other pointers from #TeamNatta on how you can combat stress, particularly in the workplace:
- If you are struggling with your workload, ask for help. Set realistic targets and reward yourself for these achievements.
- Planning ahead can be a great help in reducing stress. Write a to-do list or plan out an upcoming journey.
- Balance your time correctly. Although it can be inevitable to work longer hours, try not to do this too much. Focussing all of your attention on one task can often make it quicker than trying to do too much at the same time.
- Be more active. This can help you burn off nervous energy and gain a clear head to help you deal with your stress.
- Talk to someone about it such as a trusted friend, family or colleagues. You can also contact a helpline to help combat stress.