April is Stress Awareness Month. This year’s theme is regaining connectivity, certainty and control.

Line drawing of a man holding his head in his hands with a cloud above

The past year and the pandemic have put stress centre stage, increasing stress among many of us and perhaps making it feel less manageable.

Research by the Mental Health Foundation revealed that 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point in the last year that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. And, while three-quarters of the population (73%) said in early April 2020 that they were coping very or fairly well with pandemic-related stress, this dropped to 64% in February 2021.

The Stress Management Society identified that 65% of adults in the UK have felt more stressed since the beginning of Covid-19 restrictions in March 2020. It also found that disconnection, uncertainty and a worrying loss of control were the three key causes for concern.

Ways to cope

Even when things seem uncertain, there are still strategies that can help us to cope better, prevent stress becoming a problem, and help others.

The latest Mental Health Foundation research from February 2021 discovered that there are common ways people are coping with the stress of the pandemic. These can apply equally to managing ‘everyday’ stress:

  • going for a walk outside (the top method of coping since April 2020)
  • visiting green spaces
  • contacting family and friends
  • maintaining a healthy lifestyle – with a balanced diet, getting enough sleep and exercise
  • limiting exposure to Covid-19 news.

Our article How to fight daily stress to stay safe at work offers some tips and suggestions, including drawing up a list of the things you can control and those you can’t, to identify where you can take action, as people tend to feel happier working on what they can control.

There are more resources and information at the links below.

See also

What is stress? [Mind charity] – With information on the signs and causes of stress, dealing with pressure and developing resilience

Staying safe in stressful times – Our article in Railnews November 2020

Managing stress, fear and anxiety in the workplace – Shared learning from our October 2020 member rep event

Burnout: how to recognise the symptoms and how it affects safety

Being there for each other

Coping with loneliness