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27 October 2017

Wellbeing in Small Business Blog: De-stress – a decision that saves lives

Blog by Dorinda Wolfe Murray, Stress Down Day, FirstLight Trust

Stress, particularly in the work place, is currently in the news.   We are becoming a society that is increasingly fearful, with high levels of anxiety, and despite being the most technologically advanced ever, we are now, individually, the most isolated, certainly in regards to face to face communication.  You do not need surveys, samples, or in-depth research to know this, despite its usefulness.  It is in the faces and actions of those who surround us.  When was the last time a stranger smiled at you?  When was the last time that you felt happy, just ‘because’?

At FirstLight Trust we come across the most extreme form of ‘stress’ aka Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a disorder that upends lives, significantly harms families, people, relationships and can end in suicide.  The veterans of the Armed Forces and Emergency Services whom we support, deal with stress daily.  It enables them to be responsive, act fast, instinctively, and take action in ways that are almost unimaginable.

Stress is a natural part of every day life.  It is how we respond to it that counts or rather how we don’t.  And there are many ways of dealing with stress; some instinctive, some intellectual – depending on the type of stress.  What is absolutely certain is that we need to acknowledge that stress and its impact on mental wellbeing is well documented, researched and frequently ignored.  So what do we do to make you take notice?  What do we do to enable you to do something about it?   How do we change habits?  Which is where we come to Stress Down Day.

Stress Down Day was borne out of the need to look at how stress, and trauma affects our lives.  Our responses can vary from eating, drinking, and excessive exercise, to taking time out to ‘smell the roses’; go for a walk, talking with friends.  It is about connection and re-connecting to what is important in our lives, which often make us happy and give us altitude on other problems.  To me it is about getting space in my head from the merry go round of do’s, don’ts, worries and fears.  This is as valid at work as it is at home.  How often do we create habits that allow us to get some ‘space’ to be able to ‘mull’ things over, share concerns, offload and communicate our worries? How do we deal with stress so that it becomes a positive not a negative? How do we put a value on ourselves in the BEST way possible?  Wellbeing is not an option; it is a necessity.  And time out/finding a way of responding that works can mean happier people; which means more productive colleagues, family members, friends.  The difference in a company that has colleagues who are happy is tangible; you can see it (smiles); you can hear it (laughter/excitement); you can read it (good ideas, solutions to problems, feedback and strategies).

Why do I know this?  At FirstLight Trust we were lucky enough to fall across a solution that was delivered to us by the very people we support.  Veterans who did not know where to go to find help responded positively and in numbers to a shop that then became a hub, and then morphed into a café on their high streets.  The response to a quieter space; books on the table, space and time to talk, communicate and serve excellent tea, coffee and home baked cakes, works an old-fashioned magic that I still find amazing.  Listening, sharing, ‘seeing’ people creates connection, reduces isolations and helps people solve their problems, find friends and start to enjoy their life.  And if this sounds crazy, and too simple, I would beg to differ. Loneliness, problems with work, home, money, relationships, being ashamed of ‘not being able to cope’; not understanding or knowing how to stop the merry go round of destructive self talk/attitudes whirling inside your head; always trying to do more with less - it is not surprising we feel anxious, inadequate, helpless and unable to communicate the request for help we so desperately need.

So join us - the veterans of the Armed Forces, and Emergency Services, those in your community, your office, your work, family and friends and find ways to de-stress; have fun, smile, explore what options are available that really do work – mindfulness, yoga, mentoring, exercise, talking, communicating.  And start a conversation that is ongoing, meaningful and most importantly changes how you deal with stress.  De-stress literally saves lives.

Join us at