Managing stress

In another live web chat, our resident expert Dr Mark Winwood answered questions on coping with stress & building personal resilience.Here are some of the questions and his answers:

Anonymous180 commented: Where is a good place to start when looking at building your resilience?

Dr Mark Winwood answered: Hi Anonymous 180 – Resilience is our ability to adapt and bounce back when things don’t go as planned. Resilient people don’t wallow or dwell on failures; they acknowledge the situation, learn from their mistakes, and then move forward. By looking at this definition we can see that all of us have the ability to improve our personal strength and resilience. There are a lot of resources that can support you and give you tips on increasing resilience – is a good one – but not the only one!
However – start by doing some very simple ‘hygiene’ checks – try and increase your exercise, check your diet, get enough sleep.  Challenge your thinking – are you looking at the negative perspective on any issue – is there a more balanced view?  Prioritise your life – including time for relaxation and friendships. Involve others and build networks. Good luck!


Chris asked: Hi Mark, I’ve just started a new job and I’m finding the workload quite hard to manage. Trying to fit in with my new colleagues & manage the added workload I’m finding hard, this is making me lose sleep and dread going to work in the morning. I’ve had today off sick. Any advice would be welcome.

Dr Mark Winwood answered: Hi Chris – thank you for your question.  It is often very difficult managing lots of change in your life – and starting a new job is one of those times involving lots of change.  Firstly it is really important to try and prioritise what is important for you at work – make lists and – by ticking jobs off your list you will start to feel a bit more in control.  Make sure you give yourself some time to relax – it is more important at times of big change.
You mention that you are finding sleep difficult – there a number of sleep hygiene tips I can give you: make sure you have a regular bedtime routine, keep off caffeine loaded drinks in the afternoon, try and reduce alcohol – it might help you fall asleep but can wake you up.  If you are lying in bed awake for more than 20 minutes – get up and do something mundane – such as read a book or listen to soothing music – go back to bed when you feel tired – this should strengthen the link between sleep and bed.
It is really important to exercise and eat well at these times – good luck!


Abby asked: I’ve recently split from my partner, and I’m now effectively a single parent with two young children. I’m finding it very hard to juggle work & being a mother. I can’t afford to quit work, but I don’t want my children to suffer because of this. Where can I find support?

Dr Mark Winwood answered: Thank you for your question Abby.  One of the key aspects of building resilience is knowing when to ask for help – and then exploring the options open to you.  It may be a time that you need to use the resources of the friendship and family networks that you have around you – asking for help is not a sign of weakness it is a sign of strength.
It may also be important for you at the moment to look at what you have achieved in your life rather than focusing on the more negative things. Think about what you have the power to change in your current circumstances and prioritise these things.
By maintaining a sense of realistic optimism and positive thought you will model resilient behaviours to your children which will help them in the future.
There are also a number of supports available to you on-line where you can share your experience with other Mums that might be going through the same experiences – try ‘mumsnet’. All the best

Abby commented: Thanks for your answer, very helpful & I will take it all on board and vist Mums Net.


Bertie asked: Hi Mark, I am having trouble at work, I feel like I work long hours and some days I just don’t want to go in…how do I stop myself from phoning in sick, as I know if I do I will probably not want to come in for some days after.

Dr Mark Winwood answered: Hi Bertie – i am thinking what we can learn from research into resilient people that might help you at the moment.
Resilient people view a difficulty as a challenge, not as a paralysing event. By avoiding work you are in some respects adding to your fear. Also by not attending chances are your workload will increase while you are off and add to your troubles.
It is important to think about what you hope to achieve by phoning in sick – if it is to avoid failure – may be you need to challenge your belief that you have or will fail.  Think about what you would say to a friend or a colleague in the same situation; is there any evidence that you have failed in some way; are you being hard on yourself and judging yourself unfairly?
If you are having trouble at work – it is important to share your concerns – so speak to your manager or a supportive colleague. Good luck

Bertie commented: Thanks Mark, will do


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