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Stress Awareness Week

This week is stress awareness week and it seems ironic in these times that one week is being identified when stress has been a part of every week in 2020! I don’t need to list the different ways in which we are seeing stress at the moment. Today more than ever we know that stress needs to be addressed and for you reading this now, you have your own levels of stress for your own reasons, so it won’t help for me to list others!

Last month, I found myself driving to Birmingham Airport with my son who needed a COVID test. We were each wearing face masks and entering something that looked like an apocalyptic scene. White tents lined up lit from the inside with masked humans in hazmat suits instructing all drivers to keep their windows closed. As we drove in, we reflected how scared we would have been had we known a year ago that this would become our reality. I never used to watch those “end of the world” movies because they were so depressing and yet here, I found myself in a real-life scene.

Fear of the future can make our stress even worse. Remember the last time you were worried about something, maybe even catastrophised on the various different possible outcomes and suffered sleepless nights and distracted days worrying about an event. Imagine instead if we had just focused on the now as if we had no idea what was coming. After all, when we are in the midst of a crisis we find, as we are doing now that we cope, we adjust, and we still have things that we can control or influence.

I remember when Charlie died, and a year later my Mum that people would often weep at the thought of being in the same situation, they would say they couldn’t imagine what the pain must be like. For the person watching on, it can be unimaginable in the same way that fearing the future can be, we don’t KNOW what it’s like and our imagination can conjure up so much more than reality. Yet when you are the person in the crisis you just find a way, you have to, don’t you? I felt it was almost easier being the person IN the storm than watching on as you know what it’s like, you know your limits and what you can control, you don’t need to imagine.

As we face the uncertainty of winter and all it holds, we can reduce stress by focusing on the now, and mindfulness can help us with this. For me the easiest tip I offer my clients who may be stressing in a meeting or whose mind is wandering to worry while at home, is the 54321 technique.

Find 5 things you can see, 4 that you can feel (touch), 3 that you can hear, 2 that you can smell and 1 that you can taste. We cover this in more detail in my new Back on Track programme during week 5 when we cover mindfulness and resilience so do get in touch if you want more information on mindfulness, we would love to hear from you.

Learn more about the Back On Track 6-week programme