Monday, 4 November 2019

Stress Awareness Week 2019

This week is International Stress Awareness Week which is organised by the International Stress Management Association (ISMA).

Stress is defined by the Mental Health Foundation as “the degree to which you feel overwhelmed or unable to cope as a result of pressures that are unmanageable”.

The theme of Stress Awareness Week this year is Resilience, so we decided to ask a few PAVO colleagues what stress looks like to them (be that work-related or personal stress) and the strategies they use to bounce back from a period of stress.

How do you know you are stressed?

  • I start organising things and get really “stressy” busy. I tidy in a manic fashion.
  • I can’t sleep at night for ruminating. My mind wanders back to the stress. I can’t enjoy any leisure time.
  • I start to talk quickly, my speech really speeds up.
  • I get anxious. My heartbeat is faster. I’m sometimes short of breath. And my stomach plays up something chronic. At work I’m completely unfocused and rush from one task to another.
  • I don’t sleep and I usually find it very easy to sleep.
  • I eat more. And some of the stuff that’s not good for me like cake. And I drink more.
  • I go into manic mode first and then my sleep’s disturbed. My skin can erupt and I get snappy.
  • I can’t think straight. I can’t prioritise.
  • I get irritable and snappy.
  • I get impatient with people and / or things because I need to get on and deal with whatever’s causing me stress.

What helps you deal with stress?
  • Keeping busy. I get more stressed if I overthink things. If I distract myself with busyness I can process things in a more rational fashion.
  • I make lists. I can transfer the stress from my head to the paper and it’s parked. I do it for work and home.
  • I like to go for a walk by the sea, listen to the waves and feel the sea breeze. I love it.
  • I’m mindful that I need to take time out. An alarm bell will ring and I know I need to get out of the stressful situation and deal with it or I know it’s a slippery slope.
  • I have a “happiness box” to look through when I’m feeling down. It contains little items that make you happy. It could be anything. A picture of your family. Something in your favourite colour. A poem. A magazine. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it’s very personal to you.
  • I like my guided meditation app. It really helps me sleep - it clears your mind.
  • Offloading. You should never go home from work with the worries of the day. 99% of the time that gets rid of any stress before I go home.
  • Simply looking out of the window for a moment or popping out for a walk in the beautiful Dolerw Park.
  • Being outside. Walking. Exercise. Healthy eating. Time to myself. Essential oils. And saying no.
  • Cutting off from what I’m doing and distracting myself with something non work-related for a few minutes.
  • Time out. Having a rant and then I’m fine after that.
  • Exercise. Fresh air. Dogs.
  • I make a decision to get up at 6am and into my routine of yoga and meditation followed by breakfast. I also make my lunch which means I’m not skipping meals or snacking. And I feel more in balance before I even get into work.

Look local

There are many sources of support if you are feeling stressed, and here in Powys you can look locally to find some of them.

Invest in Your Health is a free NHS course delivered over 5 sessions which is designed to provide practical tools and techniques to improve your quality of life and wellbeing. It is a modular course, so once you have completed the first one, Building Better Health, you can choose up to four more, such as Mindfulness, Focusing on the Positive and Follow up & Solution finding. The courses take place at venues around Powys or the sessions can be done via Skype.

Brecon and District Mind is running free Mindfulness taster sessions on 7 & 28 November. “It can be easy to rush through life without stopping to notice much. Paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve your mental wellbeing”.

Open Minds is a new Mid & North Powys group meeting in Llandrindod Wells on the 1st and 3rd Mondays for people experiencing stress, depression or anxiety. Socialising is combined with tips and exercises.

Ponthafren Association in North Powys runs regular Stress Management courses. To find out more and sign up to the next course you can ring 01686 621586.

These are just a few examples of courses and activities running in Powys this Autumn and Winter. To find out more check out the Powys Mental Health website events calendar.

Singing has long been recognised as a way of reducing stress. You can find out about local singing groups and choirs on infoengine, the online services directory for Powys.

Surfing online for stress solutions

There are literally thousands of websites / organisations / services out there with ideas to help you deal with your stress. Some of our favourites:

The Mental Health Foundation’s Stress page - in 2018 Stress was the main theme of Mental Health Awareness Week.

ACAS has a useful page on workplace stress with documents you can download.

The Woodland Trust has a page on the benefits of exercising in nature which can help ease stress.

The National Trust has a beginner’s guide to forest bathing - research shows that two hours of mindful exploration in a forest could lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels.

Read on our blog the Top 10 Tips for Workforce Wellness - the theme of National Stress Awareness Day in 2016.

And if you have any good tips to share with our readers about how to deal with stress, let us know in the comments’ box below.


  1. Really useful to hear how other people feel when stressed and what they do about it. It happens to us all from time to time.

    1. Yes I loved hearing other people's ideas - just chatting about stress with my colleagues and bringing the subject out into the open felt like a really positive step. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Great blog and brilliant tips for stress management