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Stress Awareness Month – a Blog by Jenna Phelps

Jenna and her Dad with the air ambulance crew

Every year since 1992 April has been Stress Awareness Month. Every year experts aim to increase public awareness about stress. This includes highlighting the causes of stress, the negative effects stress can have on the mind and body and how to relieve stress. Most people will experience stress at some point in their life, but constant or extreme stress is bad for both your mental and physical health.

Stress can be caused from a number of things from expectations of daily life to a traumatic event. There are many ways to minimise stress such as maintaining a health lifestyle, talking about your feelings and dedicating time to relaxing.

One of the reasons Stress Awareness month is so important is because of the effects stress can have, stress is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’ as it can lead to number of serious health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Stress Awareness Month informs people about stress and provides them with the tools and resources to manage it.

In a 2016/2017 526,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety this resulted in 12.5 million working days lost.

Human Health and Social work is one of the industries impacted hardest. This will come as no surprise to anyone who works in the Care sector, although rewarding the job is extremely challenging both mentally and physically. As a Social Care agency we provide temporary staff to a wide range services within the Social Care Sector, we have a group of amazing candidates that work really hard to ensure these services receive the cover they need when they need it.

Our candidates work long hours and they work at different services which in itself can be stressful and I would like to thank all of our candidates for the amazing work they do for us day in and day out.

Improving Stress Levels…

There are a number of ways to help reduce stress in your daily life, these include avoiding caffeine, alcohol and nicotine, indulge in physical activity, make sure you are getting enough sleep, relaxation techniques, talking about your feelings, keep a stress diary, time management and learning to say No.

For more information of these tips please click the here.

Along with stress caused by daily expectations, stress can also be caused by a traumatic event. Around 1 in 3 adults in England have reported to have experienced a traumatic event. Traumatic events can be defined as experiences that put either a person or someone close to them at risk of serious harm of death, these can include; road accidents, violence/prolonged abuse, natural disasters and serious illness.

When you experience a traumatic event, your body’s defenses take effect and create a stress response, which may make you feel a variety of physical symptoms, behave differently and experience more intense emotions. This fight or flight response, where your body produces chemicals which prepare your body for an emergency can lead to symptoms such as; raised blood pressure, increased heart rate, increased sweating and reduced stomach activity (loss of appetite).

This is normal, as it’s your body’s evolutionary way of responding to an emergency, making it easier for you to fight or run away.

I experienced my first traumatic event last year, I received a phone call form a colleague to inform me my Dad had passed out at a roundabout outside work. She had no information to give me on the phone, at this time I worked for the same company as my Dad so I was only down the road, I jumped in my car and headed for the roundabout, as I approached I could see the traffic building and blue flashing lights.

The police had started to close two of the lanes on the round-about and there were two ambulances already there. I parked up and ran over to where he was on the other side of the roundabout; his car was across two lanes and facing the roundabout but stopped before hitting the roundabout. My Dad was unconscious in the middle of the two lanes, his shirt ripped open with pads on his chest.

The Police came to take his details from me and then the critical care team from Great Western Air Ambulance turned up in a car, spoke to the paramedics then spoke to me. They informed me my Dad had had a cardiac arrest whilst driving his car, two pedestrians had pulled him from his car and performed CPR until the ambulance turned up. They provided my Dad with two shocks – the first got his heart beating, the second shock got his heart back into a sinus rhythm. At this point the Critical care team decided they needed to put my Dad into an induced coma on the roadside in order to stabilise him and get him to the hospital as they had no idea what had caused this to happen, if this would happen again and what damage had been done.

My Dad was in ICU at the Bristol Royal Infirmary in a coma for four days, he then woke up without sustaining any damage. The amazing Doctors at the Heart Institute found he had suffered a heart attack previous to his cardiac arrest which is why he had managed to stop his car without crashing. They fitted a stent and he was released from hospital 13 days after his Cardiac Arrest.

This was my traumatic event and thanks to the amazing nurses in the ICU and Heart institute, my family and amazing friends I was able to talk about my feelings. I had an amazing support system which helped me deal with the stress of this situation and allowed me to focus on my Dad as they all took the time and listened to me when I needed it.

Many people aren’t as lucky as I was to have these amazing people around them and this is why Stress Awareness Month is so important, so people going through any form of Stress need to know there are many different options for support and that there are people there to help them.

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