Stress and mental health challenges have seldom been in sharper focus than they are now against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Life for almost all of us has changed so dramatically from the norm, which is a serious concern for organisations and individuals alike when it comes to mental wellbeing.
International Stress Awareness Week, which runs from the 2nd to the 6th of November, aims to offer a platform for stress and mental health challenges to take centre stage.
As part of our commitment to our staff and service users, we’ve put together this blog to offer advice for care workers to help them manage their stress and anxiety, in what has been a very tough year for the health and social care sector.
According to statistics collated by ISMA – the group behind International Stress Awareness Week – it’s thought that almost one in five adults were suffering from some form of depression at the height of lockdown in June of 2020. These statistics had nearly doubled from the period of July 2019 to March 2020, when this was thought to about one in ten adults (9.7%).
Feeling stressed or anxious was the most common form of depression that impacted mental wellbeing, with around 84.9% stating as such.
As far as healthcare workers go, no matter the location or specialism, you’ll no doubt be used to dealing with a certain level of stress. It comes with the territory.
That said, there are a few things that you can do to help manage your stress levels, to ensure that you feel more control at work, in your relationships with your colleagues and your overall mental wellbeing.
Symptoms of Chronic Stress & Anxiety
There’s probably a good chance you’ve felt stressed while on the job, but stress doesn’t always come from deadlines, caring for service users or managing fellow carers.
In many cases, there isn’t just one single cause of chronic stress and anxiety; in fact, symptoms can manifest themselves differently for every individual. These can include:
If you’re experiencing any of these feelings, then we’ve outlined some ideas and scenarios that could help you manage your stress levels.
It’s Okay Not to Be Okay
It doesn’t take much for human beings to feel neglected, lonely or isolated. We’re social creatures, and during the course of the pandemic, these feelings will have impacted many of us.
Perhaps there have been times when you’ve been unable to come to terms with these thoughts and feelings because you work within a homecare setting. However, the fact remains, that stress tolerance is different for everyone, and once these thresholds are reached and exceeded, it makes life all the more difficult.
Feeling guilty will only make your feelings much worse, so the first thing you should do is appreciate that you’re not okay, and that’s completely okay.
It’s often easier said than done, but most experts believe that talking about what you’re experiencing can really help homecare workers manage their stress.
There are many different forums to talk about how you’re feeling, but it’s really about finding the best process for you. That could be confiding in a colleague, a loved one, or even a stranger – there is no right or wrong way to open up.
Take Some Time for Yourself
Studies have found that one of the easiest and best ways to drastically reduce stress levels, is to simply take a break.
If it’s not possible to book some time off, then even something as simple as taking a ten-minute break outside or reading a book for fifteen minutes can help give you the space to decompress and process what is going on in your head.
Whatever it is you choose to do, take some time to do something new or something that brings you joy to take your mind away from work.
As we’ve mentioned, everyone reacts differently in stressful situations, and there are a few different things you can do day-to-day to help your situation.
These really do depend on your personality, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach; it’s a case of trial and error:
Of course, these are just a few examples of things you can try, but it’s by no means an exhaustive list. It doesn’t matter what works for you; the important thing is that it does works.
Look After Yourself
There are a lot of deliberate things that you can do to keep your mental wellbeing in check. For instance, we all know that alcohol can change your mood, which can be a good thing in moderation. So, if you enjoy a drink after a shift, be mindful of how much you’re consuming on how this might be contributing to how you’re feeling.
Another change you could make is simply doing something you really enjoy. Are there hobbies that you could rekindle an interest in? Think about what you enjoyed doing; the fact that you enjoyed doing it means you’re probably good at it, which is a great way to regain confidence and self-esteem.
Are You a Hales Group Care Worker?
If you work for Hales Group, and you’re feeling worried, stressed or overwhelmed, you can call our free Employee Assistance Helpline on 0800 389 0285, if you feel you need support.
As a Hales Group employee, the Metlife Employee Assistance Programme offers:
Alternatively, you could visit this link >, for more information about the support available for everyone working in adult social care.
If you’d like to learn more about what we’ve covered in this blog, whether on behalf of a carer or a service user, then don’t hesitate to contact us.