April 2021 has been Stress Awareness Month, an initiative that has been running since 1992 to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic and how to manage stress. According to the Mental health Foundation 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope, which is unsurprising since we’ve been living through a global pandemic.
Stress.org.uk, who run Stress Awareness Month, state the following: “Millions of us around the UK are experiencing high levels of stress and it is damaging our health. Stress is one of the great public health challenges of our time, but it still isn’t being taken as seriously as physical health concerns. Stress is a significant factor in mental health problems including anxiety and depression. It is also linked to physical health problems like heart disease, problems with our immune system, insomnia and digestive problems. Individually we need to understand what is causing us personal stress and learn what steps we can take to reduce it for ourselves and those around us”
With the above in mind, and with the knowledge that stress can effect everyone, whatever their background, it’s so important to try and be able to manage stress effectively for our physical and mental wellbeing.
We asked members of the QVT team how they help to manage stress, and they have kindly shared their coping mechanisms. By talking about stress openly and freely and it’s effects, we can work together to reduce the stigma that is associated with stress…
Mary- Anne Fiorini, QVT Head of People
“My tips to manage stress are as follows:
· Listening to upbeat music – I have a Spotify playlist called ‘Singalong feel good’ !!
· Going for a walk – even a half hour wander can help lift my mood if I am feeling anxious or gloomy.
· Eating chocolate always helps!
· Cooking something nice or making a cake is very calming – the process of food prep and seeing my family enjoy eating gives a real boost.
· If it’s work that is stressing me, I find that talking to my colleagues can help me work something out or minimise how difficult it is.
· Sounds odd but I find clearing out a cupboard / messy drawer helps – something about bringing calm to chaos is very soothing!”
James Davies, Head of Operation at QVT
“In the past I would go and have a cigarette but fortunately I gave up smoking years ago. What I didn’t give up was removing myself from a situation for a few minutes. When I’m working in the office I’ll go and make a hot drink go outside for some air or a short walk.
I thrive when I’m around people and I find that talking about what’s stressing me out really helps. Since the pandemic I have been mostly working from home. I do find it find difficult working without the hustle and bustle of normal office life around me. If I’m feeling stressed while working from home the first thing I’ll do is have a cuddle with Edith, my French Bulldog. I try and take Edith out for a walk at lunch time and I find this really helps to clear my head. I also find that online shopping helps focus my attention on something nice and I’ll often treat myself or buy something for the house. I recently brought some colour-changing LED lights for the kitchen. This transformed my kitchen from a kitchen into a kitchen disco and nothing relives stress better than having a one man kitchen disco. My neighbours might disagree but they haven’t complained yet, I can only assume they are also massive Kylie fans!”
Ingrid Tennessee, QVT CEO
“My coping strategies for dealing with stress are
–Exercising by going on my bicycle for long rides. I particularly enjoy parking up along the Thames and watching the Coots and other birds bobbing along. Watching the tide come in and recede and the waves lashing against the boats is also great. Especially in lockdown, this was a good way of coping with being cooped up.
—I cook with my family and experiment with various cuisines; this is something I particularly look forward to at the weekends, if the week has been demanding.
Mary-Anne also said something which resonates with me too; trusting some people at work who one can be oneself with is important. Knowing they genuinely care about me and my wellbeing is important . So having them to bounce ideas and frustrations off is hugely impactful in dealing with stresses.
(a good laugh and a good rant eases frustrations too)but one has to know who to do this with. I just got a punching bag which I wanted for ages.. so that will get a good going over too!”