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Managing Your Stress Bucket

Written by Hannah Wallis
30th Mar 2020

I hope today finds you safe and well. Like me, I expect it also finds you feeling stressed and anxious.

For those I haven’t met, I’m Hannah Wallis and I'm part of the Hantec Systems team. You may have received legislation updates from my dad, Paul, but the first blog from Hantec is coming from me!

During the past fortnight or more, we have all watched the Covid-19 pandemic strike our planet, with a constant stream of news bulletins and social media posts. Whilst I’ve seen plenty of emails and LinkedIn posts sharing best practice and specifically highlighting various Government schemes to support businesses and employees, I have not seen or heard much regarding wellbeing.

It is undeniably an unprecedented time and we are all fearful of where our businesses will be post-Covid. However, it is precisely in these kinds of situations, where we are under abnormal amounts of stress and pressure, that we forget to manage our stress bucket.

I’m sure that many of you are familiar with the concept of the stress bucket or stress container (credit to Natures Aid for the image below):

Stress Bucket

Your level of vulnerability dictates the capacity of your container; the container fills with stresses e.g. money, family, bereavement, relationships, work, health; the container fills up and if we don’t control a steady release by employing coping strategies, the container overflows and we snap!

We must filter out the stresses using positive coping strategies.

Coping with stress:

  • Exercise: eating well and exercise to release endorphins (and strive for that Summer body!) Like me, I imagine lots of you are getting up each day, swapping your bed for an office chair (or dining room table!) and around 10 hours later, swapping that chair for the sofa before climbing into bed. Even just a short walk (while we’re allowed to) is better than nothing! If you have more time, try a PE lesson with the Body Coach!
  • Have fun or indulge yourself! Learn a new skill or resurrect an old one, just do something that allows you to switch off
  • Apps such as Headspace or Calm are excellent for finding that peaceful moment
  • Podcasts promoting health, happiness and wellbeing are readily available
  • Of course, talking to a friend or colleague is a natural stress alleviator. The age old saying, “a problem shared is a problem halved” certainly holds validity
  • Acceptance: mistakes happen, it is ok not to be ok, everyone else is confused and anxious too, you are definitely not alone

While the following are easy traps to fall into, they will not help you manage your stress:

  • Overworking – it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking “If I can just send these emails, have this call or write this document, then I won’t feel stressed”. This is true to an extent, but you must have time to unwind and not overwork. Turn off your emails after a certain time, close down that laptop. Set yourself working hours e.g. 9:00-17:30 and stick to them. If you start working every hour daylight brings, it is unsustainable, and you will burnout.
  • Consider your performance! You’re unlikely to be very productive and the quality of your work will likely decline if you’re overworking (credit to UWE Bristol for the graph below):

Stress Curve2

  • It is also easy to think of junk food (high sugar, high fat) or alcohol as a treat, or a reward after a stressful day. Misconception! Actually, these do very little to help and can instead result in poor self-esteem, negative body image and lack of sleep – all things that will top up your stress bucket! While a glass of wine after a long day can seem like a good way to relax, it can actually have the opposite effect and contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety. Alcohol can have a temporary positive effect on your mood however, in the long term, it can have a negative impact on your mental health.
  • Too much screen time: we all use computers, tablets and/or mobile phones for work, and it may be difficult to reduce that, especially while we are all Zooming every client or colleague right now. Try to avoid increasing screen time checking Instagram or Facebook etc. and use your device to inject a bit of fun instead.
  • Bottle up the stresses that are filling your bucket – see point above regarding “a problem shared…”

I’m not reinventing the wheel, just trying to raise awareness during this difficult time. I am here to lend an ear should anyone want a virtual coffee.

It is certainly not to suggest that by Friday, at 5pm, you shouldn’t enjoy that nice, cold beer or refreshing G&T! Everything in moderation, including the Easter Eggs you’ve stockpiled!

Stay safe, stay well.

"The biggest risk is not taking any risk... In a world that's changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks".

Mark Zuckerberg

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