Mental Health Awareness Week: What Is Stress?
Look around your office, do you know if anyone is struggling?
You may think those around you – fellow colleagues or your staff – are completely fine. But mental health affects us all and problems in the workplace are actually very common.
According to mental health charity Mind, at least one in six workers are experiencing common mental health problems, including anxiety and depression.
Nowadays, there is increasing recognition of stress and mental health problems, both within the workplace and in everyday life. Currently, following Stress Awareness Month in April, we are approaching Mental Health Awareness Week, which takes place from 13-19th May.
We thought it might be helpful to focus on some positive strategies to help, in terms of stress management and resilience. Whilst being particularly useful and relevant within the workplace, these can all be used in everyday life as well.
WHAT IS STRESS?
In its purest form, stress is the body’s reaction to something it perceives as dangerous or threatening. When we feel under attack, our bodies respond by producing a mixture of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These prepare us for physical action by diverting blood away from our core and into our limbs. It also temporarily shuts down some less vital bodily functions such as digestion.
For immediate, short-term situations, stress can be beneficial to your health, by helping you cope with potentially serious situations.
Yet if your stress response continues, and stress levels stay elevated far longer than necessary, it can take a toll on your health.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO TACKLE STRESS?
Chronic stress can cause a variety of symptoms, contribute to many health problems (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes, anxiety and depression) and affect your overall well-being.
Reducing stress can help prevent these harmful effects on both mind and body.
Looking after yourself and ensuring you have good mental health has many benefits – not just for you as an individual, but for the business too. Employees are generally more productive, passionate and motivated when in good health. Even if they’re experiencing mental health problems, knowing they are supported by their employer can help in the recovery process.
STRESS PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN STRESS MANAGEMENT
Ultimately, the best way to manage stress is through prevention rather than cure.
Research shows that those who are better informed about the practical ways in which they can lower their stress levels are far better able to tackle difficult situations with emotional resilience and determination.
Within the workplace, employers are encouraged to make promoting the wellbeing of their employees a core element of the company’s internal operations. Some examples of a proactive approach to stress-management might be:
- To invite people to take active breaks away from their desks
- Offering lunchtime yoga classes or mindfulness sessions
- Group walks in the fresh air.
So what can help you reduce stress? Continue reading our stress, with Our Top Tips For Reducing Stress.
If you are interested in how Fleet Street Clinic can assist your workplace with stress management and resilience training, get in touch. Or if you are an individual who needs help with stress management, you can book a GP appointment online.
Fear of flying, otherwise known as aerophobia, is an excessive worry about air travel. It is one of the most common forms of phobia and according to YouGov, around 24% of Brits have some form of anxiety about getting on a plane.
People suffering from fear of flying experience extremely anxious thoughts which are often so powerful they become physical symptoms. These can include shallow breathing, experiencing chest tightening, sweaty palms, feeling nauseated or lightheaded and sometimes these even develop into a panic attack, meaning many opt to avoid air travel altogether.
For some, it will have been a lifelong problem that has meant never flying at all. For others, who have flown many miles in their lifetime, it is a problem that slowly creeps up on them over time. In both circumstances, the fear can be debilitating and symptoms often trickle into other areas of life.
Like all phobias, there is little logic to support the anxiety that it causes – travel is in fact the safest form of transport and you are much more likely to die from a car accident than in a plane crash. Knowing that fact does little to ease the flying-related anxiety of an aerophobic sufferer.
So, what can be done to overcome our fear of flying?
Understand the reason why you’re a nervous flyer
Fear of flying is usually caused by a combination of factors. Understanding the root cause of your own phobia is perhaps the first step in overcoming it. Is it a fear of heights? Claustrophobia? Was it that film you watched as a child? Or has a particular world event sparked the fear? Many people suddenly developed a fear of flying after 9/11 for example. Figuring this out will then allow you to tackle it in the right way and using the appropriate techniques.
Fight fear with knowledge
Some experts suggest the first strategy for everyone suffering from a fear of flying is learning about the aeroplane and the science behind flight. Our anxiety is fed by ‘what if?’ catastrophic thoughts. Once you become knowledgeable, your ‘what if’ thoughts will be limited by the facts. There are professionally designed courses that will explain aspects like air traffic control, anti-terrorism measures, and what happens during turbulence. Some courses use Virtual Reality (VR) to simulate a flight, explaining everything along the way with the aim of injecting logic into an illogical fear.
Seek medical help for anxiety, fear and panic
From here, a form of therapy may help to identify and break anxiety cycles. There are many different types of therapy and choosing the right one for you will depend on your own needs and goals. Hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural (CBT) are some of the most commonly used, but there are countless more to choose from. Deciding which is the most appropriate form of therapy can be daunting, so it may be helpful to seek advice from your GP or a travel nurse.
For those who manage to make it onto the plane, there are quite a few, simple personal techniques that can be used to calm your nerves.
Deep breathing techniques
Making a conscious effort to breathe slowly and deeply can interrupt panic. Deep breathing is known to trigger a comfort response and will help prevent hyperventilation.
Reading a book or listening to a good podcast can refocus your mind and attention.Distracting yourself from the fact that you are flying can be a great way to keep calm if you’re a nervous flyer.. Time tends to pass much more quickly when adequately distracted.
Tell the flight attendants
Alerting the flight attendants of a nervous flyer could also help – with their training and expertise, they are ideally placed to provide reassurance and will regularly check in on you during the flight.
Avoid coffee and wine
Nervous flyers in general should avoid drinking coffee and wine before and whilst flying. Both can leave you more dehydrated than normal. The extra caffeine in coffee can aggravate anxiety issues and the Dutch courage wine offers will pass leaving you more susceptible to jet lag. Stick with water where possible.
Tea really does help
It’s very British to recommend tea to make everything better, but there are many different herbal teas available which can help with relaxation, reducing stress and calming anxiety. Peppermint, camomile, lemon balm and lavender teas are the most commonly used.
We advise nervous flyers and people with aerophobia to seek further information and guidance from their GP who will be able to make a formal diagnosis and treatment options.
For more advice and information you can book a travel consultation appointment.
The health of both our planet and its people is, without doubt, one of the most important issues of our time. Maintaining healthy wellbeing has been in the public eye for some time now, particularly the topic of how to achieve good mental health. Chinese medical thought and acupuncture treatment can help us understand what we can do to help ourselves to achieve and maintain good health. Its teachings encourage us to inhabit our body, to connect to and to nourish our physical self and the physical world around us. This physical basis provides the root of our mental and emotional well-being.
A holistic treatment
Where Western Scientific Medicine has gone down the microscope to discover the minutiae workings of the human body (cells, biochemicals, genes), the understandings of Chinese Medicine, developed over thousands of years, have focused on how the body systems work together. It observes a person in their environment, their lifestyle, their posture… to understand the causes of ill-health, and the symptoms that arise to alert us to this. The whole body-mind is considered, and treated, to bring us back to good health and well-being.
A leap of faith for our Western minds
Acupuncture is a leap of faith for our Western minds. The concepts on which it is based do not exist in Western thought. You can’t cut open the body and find the meridians which form the energetic framework of the human body, or the Qi (pronounced ‘chee’, meaning energy) which flows through this network to motivate our physiological processes. Similarly, you can’t cut open a light bulb and find electricity. Likewise, you cannot cut open a computer and find cyberspace. It doesn’t mean that these things don’t exist. Proof of their existence lies in their application and the same is true of acupuncture treatment. Only through experiencing acupuncture for yourself will you be able to judge its true value.
Acupuncture helps reduce stress
Acupuncture is often described as incredibly relaxing, regardless of what a person seeks treatment for. Furthermore, most patients report an improvement in energy levels, sleep and a feeling of general well-being.
Acupuncture helps calm the nervous system. As a result, it helps switch off the ‘Fight-Flight’ stress response. Fuelled by adrenaline to keep us alert and primed for action, the stress response helps us to achieve. It is a useful tool for success. If the stress reaction is prolonged and not switched off, problems start to arise.
Heart rate increases, breathing quickens, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises .. it is perhaps not surprising that stress-related ailments are estimated to account for 75-90% of all doctor’s visits. By calming the body and promoting parasympathetic activity, Acupuncture helps improve circulation and reduce general muscle tension. This enhances all body functions not concerned with immediate survival – immunity, digestion, fertility, rest, recovery, repair. Generally speaking, the results note an overall feeling of relaxation and well-being.
Acupuncture helps manage day-to-day ailments
Our Acupuncturist, Diane, has 25 years experience in Chinese Medicine. She treats a wide variety of day-to-day ailments. Including headaches, IBS, anxiety, infertility. As well as the musculoskeletal pain, which acupuncture is most famous for. Why not book an appointment today to see how acupuncture can help you improve your health and well-being?
If you think you could benefit from acupuncture, you can book your appointment online.
By Diane Timewell | Acupuncturist | July 2019
Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a Mental Health problem.
Unfortunately, how we cope with mental health problems, in general, seems to be getting worse.
Leading to an increased number of self-harm and suicide victims. Spotting early warning signs in the workplace and helping those who may be experiencing workplace problems is an extremely important part in reducing the number of deaths by mental ill health each year.
Stress, anxiety and depression are the biggest cause of sickness absence in our society. At Fleet Street Clinic, we believe in creating safe, healthy workplaces where mental health and physical health of employees are valued equally. Therefore, we believe that investing in mental health first aid training, much like physical first aid training should be part of everyone’s corporate wellbeing strategy.
The Fleet Street Clinic will be running a two-day Mental Health First Aid course delivered by Leigh Mckay. This course is designed for all employees, line managers, HR professionals, OH workers and senior leaders alike who wish to become a qualified mental health first aider. By training your staff you’ll be joining a global movement of over 3 million trained Mental Health First Aiders across 25 countries.
Leigh is a quality assured MHFA instructor accredited by the Royal Society of Public Health. She has a particular interest in psychology and emotional resilience. Leigh has a wealth of experience in delivering the MHFA courses in corporate companies. Plus, she advocates that a workplace and community that promotes wellbeing can have a positive impact on everyone’s physical, mental and emotional health.
What is Mental Health First Aid?
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an Internationally-recognised training course. It teaches people how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health. MHFA won’t teach you to be a therapist, however, just like physical first aid training, it will teach you to listen, reassure and respond, even in a crisis.
A quality assured instructor will deliver the adult MHFA courses, which are for everyone aged 16 upwards. All instructors attend an Instructor Training programme accredited by the Royal Society for Public Health. Therefore, they are specifically trained to keep people safe and supported whilst they study this course.
What will I learn?
Learning will take place through a mix of group activities, presentations and discussions. Throughout the course, you will gain practical skills and awareness about mental health.
- A deeper understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect people’s wellbeing, including your own
- Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues
- Confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress
- Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening
- Knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to appropriate support
How will attending an MHFA course help?
There are many benefits to taking part in an MHFA course. Firstly, research and evaluation have shown this course raises awareness of mental health literacy. The more understanding and knowledge about mental disorders lead to better recognition, management and prevention. Secondly, this reduces the stigma attached to ill mental health, especially in the workplace. Further, this course champions its students to increase their confidence in handling mental health issues. But, most importantly, it promotes early intervention. Above all, becoming a Mental Health First Aider can enable the recovery of a sufferer and even save lives.
Date: Thursday 26th & Friday 27th September, 2019
Location: 29 Fleet Street, London, EC4Y 1AA
Cost: £350 per person
Spaces are limited.
To book yourself and/or a colleague on to the Mental Health First Aid course, please email to our Corporate Manager, Caroline McKenzie here.