In a world which can be challenging, frightening, overwhelming, complex, and seriously hard to navigate, it’s not surprising that sometimes we don't feel ok.
As part of our ongoing focus on the impact of stress on our daily lives we asked Jodie Cariss, Self Space Founder and practising therapist with over 15 years experience, for her insight into stress and our mental health.
who are Self Space?
Self Space was launched to help address a growing need for accessible and contemporary mental health support. We believe that everyday mental maintenance is an essential part of not just surviving but thriving. Our mission is to revolutionise the culture around accessing mental health support, making it more commonplace and aspirational, in the same way most of us think about our physical health.
Why is it important to proactively monitor our mental health, specifically in relation to managing our stress levels?
When things build up emotionally, our tolerance levels are significantly reduced and we can reach our tipping point much quicker - for example we may feel paralysed when faced with everyday tasks, struggle with our concentration, snap at those around us. Taking small steps daily to engage with our mental health, means that when we face a crisis we have more resilience and more space to process and cope. Treating our feelings of stress with kindness and empathy, enquiring about what we might need and finding small ways to support ourselves has much value in the short, mid and long term.
What is the impact on our mental health if our stress goes unchecked?
When stress goes unchecked over prolonged periods of time, it can accumulate to feel insurmountable. We can have an overriding sense of fatigue, overwhelm, hyper alertness, sensitivity, anxiety and depressed feelings. Stress is normally the top and presenting layer of underlying emotions or emotional situations that are not being tended to - think of it as a neon sign from the unconscious saying we need to take a look at what's happening for us.
What may be some of the signs this is happening?
There are two major types of stress: stress that’s beneficial and motivating — good stress — and stress that causes overwhelm and leads to burnout — bad stress.
With bad stress, sometimes we can't see the wood for the trees - its impact is so present in our lives we don't notice it. For bad stress, watch out for: an inability to concentrate or complete tasks/ getting ill more often with colds/ body aches/ headaches/ irritability/ trouble falling sleeping or staying awake/ changes in appetite/ more angry or anxious than usual.
What can we do to help ourselves spot when our stress levels may be rising?
Right now each of us is experiencing unique challenges daily as we navigate an uncertain and constantly changing world. But the one area in which we can find common ground is that we are all deeply stressed and tired. Stress and tiredness are by products of change, and change challenges our illusion of control.
It’s really important to check in with yourself regularly and ask yourself are you feeling stressed? Do you still feel exhausted even after a good night’s sleep? Are you feeling increasingly more emotional whether that’s crying, getting angry or feeling tense? Are you feeling detached and disconnected from things that usually bring you joy?
What are your top three tips for daily stress management?
1. check in with yourself each morning. Ask yourself ‘what am I feeling?’ and give yourself time to acknowledge the feelings that emerge without brushing them off or rushing away from them. Then ask yourself ‘what do I need’ and take notice. It’s good to acknowledge your feelings and most often instinctively you will know what you need.
2. Remember the basics. Sleep, water, nutritious food, light, movement and love. Often when we are at our most stressed and overwhelmed we forgot about the basics. Boring as they can sometimes be, the above are essential for your good mental health.
3. Break bad habits- try to notice at the end of each day what has not served you and do less of it tomorrow. That might be scrolling social media, comparing yourself to others, eating too many sweet things, not saying what you needed to someone, not stretching, whatever it is, start again tomorrow and build on the day before.
NEW Stress Check