Stress is a hot topic in my life at the moment, not because I’m suffering from it but because I’m working with lots of individuals and organisations supporting and helping those experiencing stress to learn ways to be self-loving and self-responsible when dealing with stress.
I guess you could say I’m an authority on dealing with stress. Several years ago I was a lecturer and top in my field. I loved my job, I was first in and I had a two hour a day commute to and from work. I was normally last out, and would often take work home. At the time I didn’t see my job as work because of how much I loved it however that very quickly changed! And for the record, I don’t do that anymore!
After experiencing massive trauma in my personal life, I woke up one morning having gone to bed the night before with hearing to experience suddenly being deaf, one hundred per cent locked inside myself and I couldn’t hear a thing! I was scared and didn’t know what the future held. Three days later, my speech went, not my voice - my speech! I was rushed into hospital and given a full brain MRI scan as it was immediately assumed I had a brain tumour. I didn’t thankfully. However, what I did have was the effects of massive trauma and stress.
My partner asked what we could do; the doctor gave me a ‘back to work’ certificate for a couple of weeks and I was sent home. And just like that, I was dismissed!
I chose to find my own way of healing and it was a long journey of trial and error however the evidence tells me that I’m okay now! I do have periods and brief moments of stress - we all do however I learnt that the holistic approach gives one deeper healing and it lasts much longer than being prescribed medication and there are no other effects from the drugs to add to an already traumatised body.
My partner spoke to the HR manager where I worked after I sent in my back to work certificate and he explained that I was deaf and unable to speak so he would have to speak on my behalf. The HR Manager called my partner a liar! Occupational Health wrote to them and I had to attend meetings with an advocate who spoke on my behalf. The pressure from my work place was horrendous, they were unkind, and non supportive and this impacted and made my situation worse. After 18 weeks I returned to work with partial hearing and limited speech, a year later it happened all over again, this time I was deaf and mute for two years, and I was diagnosed with a mental breakdown. I eventually left the job I loved however I was on a mission to heal myself and learn how to be more resilient and that’s when I had a break through!!
Pressure is often seen as being part of work and helps to keep workers and managers motivated and ‘on top of their game’, however when excessive or uncontrolled pressure leads to stress it can undermine performance, is costly to employers and above all can make individuals really unwell. Stress is therefore seen as a response to pressure. In my opinion and experience I believe that there is no such thing as 'good' stress, that’s a myth and keeps people pushing themselves to the limit.
The effects of stress can lead to physical symptoms of ill health, such as heart disease, as well as longer term psychological damage.
If you have a supportive and observant manager and co-workers ( and more importantly, your loved ones) they may see changes in your behaviour if you are experiencing high levels of stress. These changes include changes in ‘normal’ behaviour patterns, increased sick leave, reduced performance, tearfulness, irritability and aggression. Being withdrawn and showing an unwillingness to accept support, if it is offered, and the erosion of self-confidence and high levels of anxiety.
Different individuals may react differently to stress and the same person may react differently to stress at different times. The latest LFS survey conducted in 2019 / 2020 shows that there were 17.9 million working days lost in the UK due to work-related stress, depression and, or anxiety in 2019/2020. I suspect that has increased significantly with the pressures workers are experiencing since the Covid-19 measures were introduced. Workers often feel frightened and many feel they are being forced down a rabbit hole of taking double jabs (not vaccinations until 2023) and with the massive amount of people experiencing horrendous health implications since taking the jabs which only 10% report on the Governments Yellow Card Reporting: (https://yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk)
Many workers do not want to return to their work place environments and prefer to work from home. Stress starts to emerge as individuals do not want to re-experience the stress of being in the workplace, commuting for long periods of the week, missing family time and taking time off, even if its five minutes to hang the washing out without someone from the workplace jumping down your throat! It is also evident that relationships have broken up due to being together 24/7/365 or because of pressures from colleagues and family to do as they do and if you dare deviate from the narrative or have a differing opinion of what is happening in the world, then you are swiftly removed without thoughts of discrimination and the right to an opinion. Life is very different than it was since March 2020 and there is a marked difference in those that have the skills to be resilient and those that don’t!
And lets not forget about the impact of the pressures within personal life which cannot be ignored. Whilst the employer cannot be held directly responsible for them; the workplace can definitely be educated in how they deal with and support their employees. Life has a terrible habit of throwing a curve ball and very personal factors such as loss, grief, illness of self or loved ones, pregnancy, divorce, moving home etc all affect a person’s ability to perform and if the workplace aren’t supportive and the GP dismisses you, then you my friend are on your own. At least you were, until you found the Wellbeing Toolbox, Johanna and her team of coaches, counsellors and therapists. Next time, we will look at the holistic approach to reducing and controlling stress.
Have a peaceful and self-loving day. Namaste x