Wellbeing Wednesday 6th April 2022

Jane Fowler

Jane Fowler – Head of Customer Support Services

Hello everyone and happy wet Wednesday! After such a wonderful dry, sunny spell – the rain has come and has had us looking out the wellies and waterproofs again – but has made for some very happy gardeners (and frogs..)!

This week we have tips and a challenge for you to choose one positive action each for the 30 days of stress awareness month – and improve your Physical, Mental or Emotional Wellbeing. You know me – stepping out into the garden, even in the rain, to hear the birds singing and see the plants growing sorts me out! Why not share your ideas or actions with your colleagues in your teams? Or with your family or friends? Or do something together? Whatever it is, take the time to do something for you. And don’t forget all of the resources we have available to support you if you are experiencing too much stress.

The other topic we are covering is World Health Day on 7th April, the anniversary of the World Health Organisation being founded. This year’s theme is “Our Planet, Our Health” and asks us to you imagine a world where clean air, water and food are available to everyone. I hope you find it interesting.

And finally – a confession about my wellbeing reading… having been sucked into the twittersphere over the last week or so, my whodunit novel is still sitting unopened… I did knit a hat though! Hey ho – onwards and upwards.) See you next week.

Stress Awareness Month

Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992 to raise awareness of the causes and cures for stress.

This year, the theme is Community. The Stress Management Society chose this theme because lack of support can cause loneliness and isolation, which in turn lowers people’s wellbeing, impacts mental health and can lead to mental illness.

Social isolation is an important risk factor for both deteriorating mental health and suicide. As we emerge from the pandemic, it’s vital that the community support experienced by many people during this challenging time continues.

The 30-Day Challenge

As part of their campaign for Stress Awareness Month, the Stress Management Society are running a 30-day challenge throughout the month of April.

They are encouraging you to pick one action each for your Physical, Mental and Emotional Wellbeing to carry out every day.

It takes 30 days to turn actions into habits, which is why this is a month-long programme. The 30-day challenge will maximise your chances of turning useful knowledge and techniques into positive behavioural change.

Stress Awareness Month is hosted by the Stress Management Society in the UK. We encourage you to visit their website to learn more and support the cause this April.  The website contains a wealth of information on stress and numerous resources, including:

What is stress?

Stress is our body’s response to a harmful life event or threatening situation, regardless if the threat is genuine or not. Stress can affect people in a variety of different ways and severities. What may be perceived as a stressful situation by one person, may be of little concern to another, and some individuals are better able to handle stress than others.

Not all stress is bad. In some cases, small amounts of stress can help you accomplish tasks. For example, feeling “butterflies” in your stomach before a job interview or an important presentation. These types of positive stressors are short-lived, and your body’s way of helping you get through what could be a tough situation.

Our bodies are able to handle small amounts of stress. But, we are not equipped to handle long-term, chronic stress without ill consequences.

Signs of stress

Some of the common symptoms of stress to watch out for can be split into four areas: psychological, emotional, physical and behavioural. The symptoms that affect you will often accumulate until you are forced to take notice of them, such as:

  • Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody.
  • Experiencing chest pain and a rapid heartbeat.
  • Being in a constant state of worry.
  • An increased reliance on alcohol, smoking, caffeine or drug use.

Tips for reducing personal stress

Talk: Take time out to talk to someone with an empathetic ear and get their perspective on things. It could be a friend, a family member or a colleague.

Exercise: Regular exercise can help lower stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins, as well as improving your sleep and self-esteem in the process.

Reduce your caffeine intake: High quantities of caffeine can increase stress and anxiety. However, people’s sensitivity to caffeine can vary greatly. If you notice that caffeine makes you jittery or anxious, consider cutting back.

Tips for reducing work-related stress

Be organised: Planning ahead to stay organised can greatly decrease stress at work. This can result in less time spent rushing in the morning to avoid being late and being more efficient with your work.

Walking lunches: One way you can help combat the effects of a sedentary lifestyle and de-stress is by taking a walk during your lunch break. This can help clear your mind, lift your mood and improve your fitness.

Eat well: Long working hours and heavy workloads can often create a vicious circle of not eating properly and skipping meals, resulting in you feeling sluggish and low. Eating well balanced meals will help you to keep healthy and maintain your energy for busy days at work.

Stress at Work Resources: Argyll and Bute Council is committed to providing a healthy, safe and supportive working environment. The Reducing Stress in the Workplace Policy provides a framework to proactively and reactively manage the issues of stress and minimise the impact of stress related issues.

If you feel stressed at work, talk to your manager about how you feel and consider completing a Stress Risk Assessment.  You can find information and advice on stress at work on the My Council Works website.

There are also a number of short courses and podcasts on stress and wellbeing on LEON (Health Safety and Wellbeing section), which you may find helpful.

Our employee assistance programme Health Assured also provide a 24 hour free and confidential helpline – call 0800 030 5182 or you visit them online.  If you haven’t accessed Health Assured online services before and need to sign in, please email wellbeing@argyll-bute.gov.uk for the user name and password or check on the Hub.

World Health Day 7th April

World Health Day is celebrated annually and each year draws attention to a specific health topic of concern to people all over the world.

The date of 7 April marks the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1948.  This year the topic is “Our Planet, Our Health”

Can you imagine a world where clean air, water and food are available to everyone?  Where economies are focused on health and well-being and where people have control over their health and the health of the planet?

WHO estimates that more than 13 million deaths around the world each year are due to avoidable environmental causes. This includes the climate crisis which WHO believe to be the single biggest health threat facing humanity and therefore, the climate crisis is also a health crisis. 

Global political, social and commercial decisions are driving the climate and health crisis. Over 90% of people across the world breathe unhealthy air resulting from burning of fossil fuels. Extreme weather events, land degradation and water scarcity are displacing people and affecting their health. Pollution and plastics are found at the bottom of our deepest oceans, the highest mountains, and have made their way into our food chain. Systems that produce highly processed, unhealthy foods and beverages are driving a wave of obesity, increasing cancer and heart disease while generating a third of global greenhouse gas emissions.

While the COVID-19 pandemic showed us the healing power of science, it also highlighted the inequities in our world. The pandemic has revealed weaknesses in all areas of society and underlined the urgency of creating sustainable societies committed to achieving equitable health now and for future generations without breaching ecological limits. A well-being economy has human well-being, equity and ecological sustainability as its goals. These goals are translated into long-term investments, well-being budgets, social protection and legal and fiscal strategies.

Breaking these cycles of destruction for the planet and human health requires legislative action, corporate reform and individuals to be supported and incentivised to make healthy choices. To find out more and get involved visit: World Health Day 2022 (who.int)

Thanks for reading and, as ever, keep in touch with us at wellbeing@argyll-bute.gov.uk