Stress is something we simply can’t ignore!


ANXIETY and depressive symptoms have risen significantly since lockdown measures were introduced to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Stress can strike when we are least expecting it. We are all so busy trying to sustain our livelihoods in the current unpredictable climate, we may miss the subtle signals that occur.

Adapting to new working conditions, managing staff remotely or perhaps keeping key workers safe can all be stressful individually. Now, imagine the impact of a mix of these and more!

How many plates are you currently spinning? How long can you sustain uncertainty or worry over a lack of income? There is absolutely no doubt Covid-19 is hitting businesses in Northern Ireland hard, but what about the people behind them?

I have been finding it hard to sleep. Due to past experiences this is a simple signal that my mental health is suffering. A few days of fatigue, irritability and a lack of concentration made me realise that I urgently needed to take action. That familiar feeling that I now associate with stress. Like most, I learned these signals the hard way.

Identifying stress can be tricky. It may mean different things to different people. Sometimes it takes a colleague or your GP to point it out, before the realisation hits that the physical symptoms or unusual emotions you have been experiencing is because you are under stress.

Take a moment to reflect how you have been feeling over the past few weeks. How has the impact of these difficult times in business affected your mental well-being? It is essential we take five minutes to consider this because not only does our health depend on it, our businesses depend on it too!

When we are under stress it can affect our thoughts, feelings and behaviour. We may find it difficult to make decisions, think clearly or feel motivated. It can affect our personal and professional relationships; raise our blood pressure or cause issues such as digestive problems or headaches.

Yet stress is strangely something we tend to dismiss or ignore. If you were suffering from some of the issues or health problems described above, how would this affect your work life?

If a friend or colleague disclosed, they were feeling under pressure or stressed, what would your advice be?

What might happen if they don’t take action? Stress should be taken seriously. It is simply something we cannot ignore. Prolonged exposure to stress is a difficult road and will make its mark on both your physical and mental health.

Right now, we all need to give that extra push to survive in business. We must ensure not only to be physically well, but mentally strong also.

Resilience will be the key to enduring this precarious situation. Good mental well-being is vital. There is plenty of support available so I would encourage every business owner, manager or employee to take heed and take care.

:: Jill Gordon is the founder of MindSafe at Work (