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17 Apr

DAM support Stress Awareness month | April 2020

According to the Mental health Foundation 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. Stress is one of the great public health challenges of our time, but it still isn’t being taken as seriously as physical health concerns. Stress is a significant factor in mental health problems including anxiety and depression.

And now more than ever, it seems a fitting time to talk about stress and its impact on your employees. We're in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, with cities and even entire countries shutting down. There has been loss of life, rapid changes to t heirway of life (e.g., work, social gatherings), and disrupted plans due to travel restrictions and social distancing measures put in place to slow the spread of transmission. You and your employees are naturally concerned for your own and loved ones’ health and safety. Plus, there is still much uncertainty. We don't know how exactly we'll be impacted or how bad things might get. And it is this fear of the unknown that makes it all too easy to spiral out into overwhelming dread and panic.

According to Help Guide, there are many things that you can encourage your employees can do-even in the face of this unique crisis-to manage their anxiety and fears, including:

  1. Encourage them to stay informed—but not to obsessively check the news: It’s vital that your employees stay informed, particularly about what’s happening, so that they can follow advised safety precautions. But there’s a lot of misinformation going around, as well as sensationalistic coverage that only feeds into fear. It’s important to encourage them to be discerning about what they read and watch. Encourage them to stick to trustworthy sources and possibly limit how often they are spending checking for updates, taking a step back if they start to feel overwhelmed. If sharing anything through work, ensure you are using reliable sources, and ask that your employees be mindful of what they share with others.

  2. Encourage them to focus on the things they can control. For example, whilst your staff can’t control how severe the coronavirus outbreak is as a whole, remind them of the steps they can take to reduce their own personal risks, such as:
    - washing hands frequently (for at least 20 seconds)
    - avoiding touching their face (particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth)
    - staying home as much as possible
    - avoiding all non-essential shopping and travel
    - keeping 6 feet of distance between themselves and others when out
    - getting plenty of sleep, to help support the immune system
    - following all recommendations from health authorities

  3. Remind them to stay connected — even when physically isolated: Evidence shows that many people with coronavirus — particularly young, seemingly healthy people — don’t have symptoms but can still spread the virus. That’s why the biggest thing that most people can do right now to make a positive difference is to practice social distancing. But at the same time, stay as connected as possible, and reach out for support when necessary. Encourage your employees to stay in touch with friends and family. Remind them that social media can be a powerful tool — not only for connecting with friends, family, and acquaintances — but for feeling connected in a greater sense to our communities, country, and the world. It reminds us all that we’re not alone.

  4. Encourage your employees to take care of their body and spirit. Emphasise that they should be kind to themselves and go easy on themselves if they are experiencing more depression or anxiety than usual. Whilst they may not be working at the moment, urge them to maintain a routine as best as they can to help maintain a sense of normalcy. Remind them to take time out for activities that they enjoy — whether that’s reading a good book, watching a comedy, or taking up a new hobby, it doesn’t matter what as long as it helps to take them out of their worries. It is important that they are awawre of the benefits of sunshine and fresh air, as long as they are avoiding crowds, keeping their distance from people they encounter, and obeying restrictions in their area.

    If they can, they should find ways to exercise. Staying active will help them release anxiety, relieve stress, and manage their mood. While the gym and group classes are out, they can still cycle, hike, or walk. Or if they’re stuck at home, encourage them to look online for exercise videos they can follow. There are many things you can do even without equipment, such as yoga and exercises that use bodyweight.

    Finally, they may wish to take up a relaxation practice. When stressors throw your nervous system out of balance, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can bring you back into a state of equilibrium. Regular practice delivers the greatest benefits, so if they can, they may wish to set aside a little time every day to focus on relaxation.

    Of course, this list is not exhaustive, and you may wish to visit https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/coronavirus-anxiety.htm for further guidance and tips.

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