April marks the start of Stress Awareness Month in the UK.
At JOHNS&CO we recognise that working in a high pressure environment such as property means that there can be times where stress creeps in. Of course, not all stress is bad. Exposure to moderate stress means we can adapt when the time arises, but let that build up, and very quickly the cortisol (stress hormone) can begin to erode at our physical and mental health.
That’s why in 2020, in the height of the Pandemic, we decided to set up a new Wellness Strategy. We introduced our staff to Plumm, an app which offers one-to-one video therapy sessions, chat therapy, therapist-led online psycho-educative courses, guided meditations and live monthly events.
The app also offers opportunities to grow self-confidence, motivation and leadership skills, enhancing wellbeing but also supporting career development.
We have had a hugely positively response so far from our staff, with well over half regularly using the services.
Not content with simply offering the aforementioned, we appointed two members of staff to head up the scheme , and to encourage staff to participate further. Ruta Mickute and Louis Farquharson are now our Wellbeing Ambassadors alongside their day-to-day roles.
“Having used many of the services on offer through our partnership with Plumm, including guided meditation and therapy sessions, I am looking forward to encouraging my colleagues and peers to make use of the services and hope to make a positive difference to the wellbeing of staff across the agency” says Mickute.
And fellow-ambassador Farquharson adds: “I hope my role will help to break down some of the industry-wide stigmas associated with therapy, mental health and wellbeing and raise awareness of the services that are on offer. Ruta and I have lots of ideas we are keen to implement.”
If you’re struggling with stress and don’t have access to an online resource like Plumm, there are other options to ensure your mental health and wellbeing is taken care of. Some top tips include:
- Getting outside – even a 10-minute walk in your local park can make a huge difference to your mood. Being out in nature helps us to get into a natural rhythm. Our hearts start to beat more slowly, our breathing is steadier, and we’re just more generally relaxed. It can be really helpful to us if we deal with anxiety on the regular.
- Have a cold bath/shower. Although you might not think plunging yourself in cold water will help, cold water therapy has been proven to help with stress, resilience, improved sleep and circulation and improvements in blood pressure. How about combining it with social interaction and joining your local wild swimming group?
- Need help boosting your mood or do you need more energy throughout the day? Get outside and exercise. Exercise has been shown to help boost your happiness hormones and it can help to “wake you up” so that you can go about your day and feel a little more functional. While you can definitely exercise inside, getting out in the fresh air can actually help to increase those hormones as well, giving you more bang for your buck.
- It might feel like the hardest thing to do, especially when you’re super stressed. But if you can even confide in one person that you trust, it’ll feel like such a relief to share some of your burdens. As the old adage says ‘a problem shared is a problem halved!’
- Setting boundaries. Saying no if you’re a people pleaser can sometimes be the hardest thing to do. However, taking on more work than you can cope with only perpetuates the cycle of stress and worry. Speak to your manager or HR to discuss your workload, how it can be managed more efficiently and how it can be lessened.
- Sleeping and eating well. When you’re stressed it can be easy to neglect sleep and allow your sleep hygiene to slip. Equally, sometimes after a long day the last thing you want is to start cooking an elaborate meal. And whilst the occasional takeaway isn’t going to hurt, making something vaguely nourishing will be better for your body and mind in the long run.
Remember, if you’re feeling like there is no one to turn to, you can always reach out to The Samaritans who are available 24/7 and offer advice, support and someone to listen to you.