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Health and wellbeing: Beware new wave of stress

Health and wellbeing: Beware  new wave  of stress

By Tania Menahem

Health Wellbeing 


It is beneficial to remain hopeful and positive as the working environment continues to change.

  • If possible, work in a separate room, dividing work and home life within the home. 
  • Shower and dress every day as if you were going to the office.
  • Set a routine and stick to it. Work regular hours with regular breaks.
  • Exercise and eat healthily.
  • Find moments of positive emotion.
  • Stay in contact with colleagues, friends and family.
  • Breath. Practise any form of relaxation or mindfulness.
  • Take one day at time.
  • Choose your news. Avoid negativity in the media.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year, the world has changed. No one has been left unaffected by the global chaos. For many, a new form of anxiety and stress became the norm. We have had to deal with uncertainty and put trust in our leaders to guide us through a situation that was largely unknown, a work in progress. As human beings we like to be in control and generally do not take kindly to change. It is no wonder that we are feeling stressed. Isolation restrictions have changed how we work, how we school children, how we socialise and how we shop. What we need to remember is that it is perfectly normal to feel anxious and stressed and you are not alone in doing so. 

To understand this better we need to understand what stress it. Stress can be defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. When stressed, the body thinks it is under attack and switches to fight or flight mode (also known as the stress response), releasing a complex mix of hormones and chemicals to prepare the body for action. The challenge comes when our bodies stay in the state of stress for long periods as it cannot always tell the difference between a real or perceived threat.

Stress is unique to everyone as our perceptions are all different. What we might have found manageable last week might be quite different this week due to a change in circumstances, or what might be stressful to you is either a challenge or normal for the next person. Our workplaces have been trying to manage this as effectively as possible considering so many different anomalies. Ironically, the workplace trying to keep the environment and those within it safe may have added to individual stress levels. 

A lot of what workplaces have asked falls under the category of change and as noted we do not like change. Working from home has been challenging on many levels: managing work, home schooling, technology, meetings in cyber space, lack of face to face contact, loss of sense of belonging, just to name a few.

At some stage we face the possibility of going back to the office, which may release a new wave of stress and anxiety by way of reinstating everything we have been told to stop doing. We need to remember this will be a positive move and put trust in our leaders that the time is right. With the rollercoaster of emotions over the past few months we may feel cautious or even superstitious about wanting to feel good and be happy. This is normal. 

You may want to lower your expectations to avoid disappointment, however it is far more beneficial to remain hopeful and positive. Embracing life can have a powerful impact on our mental health and recovery. On our journey back to life as we used to know it we need to remember:

  • to listen to the advice given by leaders and employers
  • know the anxiety and stress you may be experiencing is normal and will subside
  • to stay in tune with your behaviour such as repetitive and excessive handwashing – it can exacerbate the stress and anxiety
  • to introduce a positive activity into your daily schedule
  • to keep communication open with colleagues, family and friends, and
  • smile and laugh. ■

Tania Menahem is founder of TGM Stress Management. For the past 15 years she has custom designed stress management, health and wellbeing workshops specific to individual organisations. 

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