Are you stressed and is it good stress or bad stress?

Getting the balance right between feeling stressed enough and too stressed is an interesting conundrum. Too much stress and it is difficult to operate effectively, not enough stress and it is difficult to operate effectively. We all need a level of stress to get the adrenaline pumping and the self-motivation on track. However, if the stress level is too high, then people risk burn out and facing that state where their thoughts become a fog and life becomes too challenging.

No one can have failed to see how much emphasis is being placed on increasing the awareness of mental health and making it “ok” to talk about it. I totally support this view but know that there remain many people who do not.

If you work for someone who is not prepared to acknowledge that pressure and stress can lead to mental health issues, then you need to learn to take care of yourself. I went to see Ruby Wax perform her latest show ‘Frazzled’ a few weeks ago and I think she captured some of those horrible panic moment really well – she coined the phrase “frazzled” to use in place of stress and I really get it. Frazzled is when there are too many things going around in your head; when you wake up in the night and your brain starts to play the story of all of your shortcomings on repeat. The solution that Ruby Wax suggests (aside from medication), is mindfulness. I would prefer to call it focus.

Mindfulness sounds like mumbo jumbo but unless you can train your mind to focus on just one thing at a time then you will constantly return to the frazzled state. She also suggested that if someone could create a ‘fitbit’ type indicator that tracked how often you allowed your brain to relax, then that would be a winner. Give it a try – focus on whatever you want, the sounds you can hear with your eyes closed for one minute is a start – you may be surprised how difficult it is to switch off just for a minute. With your brain relaxed, you will enjoy much greater clarity of thought and perspective.

If you fancy checking just how your stress levels currently rate have a go at the Holmes Rahe Scale on this link; and see how you can start to reduce stress and improve life.

Penny Whitelock FinstLM


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