April, a month all about raising awareness of what effects stress has on people and their everyday wellbeing, as well as what we can do to combat it. 

More than ever throughout this time of lockdown, self-isolation and general uncertainty, if ever there was a good time to reflect on what causes us to feel stressed along with tips and techniques to overcome stress.  In fact, the whole lockdown, self-isolation and general uncertainty is in itself a stressful situation!

However, let’s start with a positive - stress is not necessarily a ‘bad’ thing as without it, humankind would not have survived.  But like with everything moderation is the key word where stress is concerned!

It is primarily a physical response when we automatically go into a ‘fight or flight’ mode and by doing so release a complex mix of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine in preparation.

Through the release of these hormones and chemicals you gain a rush of energy, your heart pounds faster, your breathing speeds up and your focus is sharpened.  However, the ability to think straight is marred as your blood flow is only going to the most important muscles needed to fight or flee and this state can become a hindrance.  If we remain in a state of stress for long periods, that’s when it can be detrimental to our health. 

In fight mode, stress makes us feel agitated and sometimes aggressive towards others, which can be seen both as strong in warning others off but also as negative.  However, the opposite can occur, and signs of the flight mode can be seen where we do the opposite and we remove ourselves from the situation instead of tackling it.

It is a function that kicks in and can potentially save lives if we find ourselves in dangerous surroundings.

Another thing that can happen is we just freeze, and the energy mobilized by the perceived threat gets “locked” into the nervous system.  Sometimes this is revealed by our breathing and both holding our breath and shallow breathing are both forms of the freeze reaction with deep sighing happening for the body to catch up on its oxygen intake.

Today, stressful events fall into one of these three key categories:

  • Critical – This relates to short-term events which do not last long but if traumatic, they still can have a lasting impact on us.
  • Serialised Stress - Situations which are also short-term but which we find ourselves in regularly, for example recurring stressful experiences when at work.
  • Chronic - Ongoing stresses which last into the long-term. These could include relationship stress or stress brought on through an illness.


In order to tackle stress, we need to identify the stressors and look at the measures we can take to stamp out stress!

The Workplace

Unfortunately, but predictably the workplace can be a key source of stress.  Whether it’s the job or the people, this professional forum can place unnecessary stresses and strains on individuals which can also be seen through the patterns and levels of absenteeism a company is experiencing and yet in the main not addressing!

How to manage stress at work?  Depending on the size of the company you work for will depend on what support mechanisms are in place and how much they are actual support and how much they are just tick boxing exercises to be seen to be doing the right thing. 

If you work for a large company the structure should see a Human Resource Function which is there to ensure good practice is being adhered to and actively promoted and where Managers recruited are recruited for their ability to manage not only situations pertinent to their area but also people and have all the skills required to identify and stamp out unnecessary stress at work.

From an individual viewpoint – make sure you separate work from home – get the balance right and if you feel there is an uneven balance – communicate!  You have either got into a rut of working at home outside of your working hours and therefore are on autopilot or your workload needs addressing in terms of time management, organisational skills or a conversation!  Be brave, be bold, be less stressed!

Financial Stress

Financial worries can affect us all and cause stress especially during this pandemic. 

Being able to live comfortably contributes to a sense of financial insecurity and even though improved management of money can alleviate financial stress, the unique situation to everyone makes a one-size-fits-all solution to this source of stress impossible.

However, ignored or left unaddressed, financial worries can have a significant effect on our lives impacting on both ourselves and the relationships we have with those closest to us.

Relationship Stress

Even the most idyllic, happiest and strongest of relationships are subject to stress for both parties involved as living together and being together brings with it a host of problems.  Some people are very needy and cannot seem to do anything for themselves without guidance or approval from their partner, this can be energy draining and frustrating.  The loss of a personal space for those more used to being independent and enjoying spending quality time alone to having to adapt to your partners different or potentially annoying habits or views can be challenging!

Even though to begin with you see a lot of the above as things you can work with, over time, your view changes and the impacts they have turn from positive into negative potentially leading to conflict and even break ups.

Of course, in a perfect world it is all about compromise which works as long as both parties understand it’s meaning and genuinely wish to both be at that ceasefire stage willing to instead concentrate on happier events and create a more tranquil environment to share together which in turn is better for everyone’s wellbeing and health.

Be aware of your actions, think about the consequences – don’t take each other for granted and stop unnecessary stress from occurring – so what if the dishwasher has been stacked properly – according to who?

Being in a partnership is just that working together, looking out for each other and staying together in harmony!