National Stress Awareness Day

5th November 2008

Stress can be an insidious build up of many pressures and challenges. Most people are now aware that the big issues in life can be exciting for some and too demanding for others, resulting in stress - redundancy and moving home are just two examples.

This year, National Stress Awareness Day is focusing on the pressures we create ourselves - in particular the 'worrying' habit. Worrying undermines our natural ability to cope and most people admit it is completely ineffective. This both reduces energy and undermines self confidence.

The 'Don't Worry.....Take Action!' campaign is designed to focus on this ineffective behaviour and change it to a positive outcome.

National Stress Awareness Day (NSAD) is organised by the International Stress Management Association (ISMAuk) – a registered charity whose aim is to advance the education of the public in the field of biological stress. Funded by our qualified stress management practitioners registered with ISMAUK, and
also by organisations that have an interest in stress and stress reduction, our aim is to rationalise and develop understanding of stress and to open access to the many coping strategies and sources of help available to people and organisations who want to reduce the harmful outcomes of stress.

Now in its 10th year NSAD is a firm fixture in the UK calendar on the first Wednesday of November (5th November) and this year we are focusing on the habit of WORRY. People can be affected by external pressures over which they believe they have very little control but they are also affected by internal pressures through their thinking patterns.
Worrying is one such pattern. It creates negativity, reduces body energy and saps morale and this year we are encouraging the nation to :


About worry

An internet search revealed that there are 1227 books on worry. 24 DVDs and 3,700,000 CDs! It would appear that the subject of this year’s National Stress Awareness Day is of interest to many people.

Almost everybody worries, it can be a useful response to life, preventing us from being reckless and stimulating us to take control of a difficult situation. However some people worry a lot more than others, and sometimes to the point where worry becomes a problem in itself.

Worry is a learned/conditioned behaviour and many people spend a lot of time thinking about negative possibilities, mulling them over and developing exaggerated situations and options. Starting thoughts and sentences with “what if”, “maybe” are all part and parcel of the worrier.

There are different types of worry too;

  • FUTURE - frequently focusing on fears for the future…… things that very probably won’t happen,
  • PRESENT - concerns and worries about situations you feel powerless to change
  • PAST - concern about something that has already happened when there is often little you can do to alter it.

Worry can stimulate the Fight or Flight response which is the body’s response to real or imagined danger and whilst effective in the short term, ‘Fight or Flight’ becomes damaging in the medium to long term.

The result is:

  • disturbed sleep and eating patterns
  • feeling of inability to cope
  • loss of confidence
  • difficulty in concentrating and making decisions
  • headaches
  • stomach upsets, feeling sick, butterflies
  • emotional distress
  • depleted immune system
  • irritability
  • feeling de-energised
This is one mental activity we can certainly do without!

Take action


Some of these suggestions may work for you:


  • Take Action - evaluate all your options, then make a decision and act on it. There is often something you can practically do about a situation you are worried or anxious about. Consider each worry one by one, Then ask yourself, on a scale of 1 – 10 (where 1 is slightly worrying and 10 is extremely worrying)
How important is this worry?

If it is less than five, leave it for another day!
(use our worksheet to help you)

  • Positive Thinking - ban the "worry" word and use concern, issue, problem dilemma, challenge instead.
  • Talk to friends - they may be able to suggest a possible course of action or solution. Worry is often a habit, doing a ‘reality check’ with others can help you to change your thinking from negative to positive
  • Write it down! - Worrying often happens when you are trying to go to sleep. Keep a notepad by the bed, write it down and tell yourself you will deal with it in the morning. You can use this technique in the day too, deferring all your worries for e.g. 30 minutes, to a designated later time is really helpful rather than being unproductive all day
  • Relaxation - this is another excellent way to cultivate the habit of postponing worry (down load our audio visualisation and use it regularly until you are an expert at the technique
  • Physical activity - exercise is excellent as it changes the focus from the mind to the body, relieves tension and uses up the excess adrenalin. You don’t have to go for a long run or the gym, a good steady walk can be just as effective. Regular exercise is known to improve mood and will increase your sense of well-being. It’s good for the heart too as well as the head!
  • Improve your diet - it’s a good idea to cut down on caffeine in coffee, tea and cola drinks as it is a stimulant that heightens the effects of tension and worry. This is especially relevant in the evening for those of you that are prone to worrying at night. Eating well at regular intervals can also help as unstable blood sugar levels lead to jittery feelings that contributes to your state of mind. Alcohol and smoking also both affect mood so consider reducing or stopping if worry is really affecting you
  • Complementary therapies - consult a qualified practitioner who can look at you as a whole person. There are many options that can help including, yoga, massage, acupuncture, reflexology and aromatherapy. (see Useful Organisations below)
  • Psychotherapy/counselling/medication – these options may be needed for extreme worry that leads to constant anxiety. See your GP who will be able to advise what is best for you.

Useful UK and Irish Contacts

UK Organisations

Health and Safety Executive
Advice for work related stress

British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP)
T: 01254 875 277
Can provide details of accredited therapists.

British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
T: 0870 443 5252
See their website for a list of practitioners in your area.

The British Psychological Society
T: 0116 252 9904

The British Osteopathic Association (BOA)
British Osteopathic Association 3 Park Terrace Manor Road Luton LU1 3HN
T: 01582 488455
F: 01582 481533

The Institute for Complimentary Medicine (IMC)
T: 0207 237 5165
Provides information on complimentary medicine.

No Panic
T: 0808 808 0545 – Helpline
Helpline for people experiencing anxiety disorders.

National Phobics Society
T: 0870 122 2325 – Helpline
Information and support for those with anxiety disorders.

Depression Alliance
T: 0845 123 2310
UK’s leading depression charity with a network of self-help groups.

The Sleep Council

Relate (Relationships)

Workplace Bullying

National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH)

United Kingdom Confederation of Hypnotherapy Organisations (UKCHO)

Stress Management Society

Stress Management with Melatonin
W: Information on hGH

St John Ambulance
St John Ambulance offers courses in first aid, health and safety and stress awareness.
T: 08700 10 49 50 to find a course near you.

Hands On Scotland
The HandsOnScotland Toolkit is an online resource for anybody working with children and young people. This website is designed to help you make a difference to children and young people’s lives, by giving you tools to respond helpfully when they are troubled.

Irish Organisations

Irish Advocacy Network
An island-wide mental health organisation run and led by service users, the Network delivers a Peer Advocacy Service. It provides information, support and choice for those who have experienced difficulties with their mental health and wellbeing.
Contact Information: Tel. No: (047) 38918, 9.00am-5.00pm
Email Address:

IPPA, The Early Childhood Organisation
National childcare organisation providing support, advice and training for childcare providers, parents and other childcare practitioners. Aims to raise public awareness of the needs of young children and their families and to raise the profile of the role of play in children’s development and learning.
Publications: Quarterly magazine; leaflets; research papers; support literature.
Contact Information: Tel. No: (01) 463 0010 from 9.00 am – 5.00 pm Mon – Fri
Web Site:

The National Play Resource Centre
Contact Information: Tel. No: (01) 463 0010 from 9.00 am – 5.00 pm Mon – Fri

Health And Safety Authority
(Note: Irish equalivant to HSE)
Advice for Work Related Stress
Contact Information:
Contact Person: Patricia Murray
Tel. No.: (01) 614 7000, Hours: 9.00am-5.00pm
Web Site:

Independent, non-profit organisation working with communities in Ireland to ensure that young people aged 12 to 25 are better supported to achieve mental health and wellbeing. Objectives: to co-ordinate and integrate existing services and support systems and ensure that they work for young people; to improve mental health outcomes for the young; to build greater community awareness regarding the needs and challenges facing young people.
Contact Information: Tel. No: (01) 660 7343, 9:00am – 5:15pm Mon to Fri
Email Address:
Web Site:

Grow Community Mental Health
GROW in Ireland is a worldwide community mental health movement with over 140 groups throughout Ireland.
GROW holds weekly meetings which emphasise a mutual self-help approach to mental health and the development of personal resources using a twelve-step programme of growth to maturity in avoiding and recovering from mental breakdown. GROW in Ireland is anonymous, confidential and free. Meeting are held regularly and can be found open country wide.
Contact Information: Tel: 1890 474 474
Web site

Irish Heart Foundation
Provides detailed descriptions of all the major conditions, with links to further information.

The Samaritans
Contact Information: Tel: 1850-60 9090 Email:

The Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapist (IACP)
Contact Information: Tel: 01-2723427
See the website for a list of practitioners in your area

Migraine Association of Ireland
The Migraine Association of Ireland is a registered charity dedicated to improving the quality of life for a lot of people with migraine.
Contact Information: Tel: 01 894 1280 / 01 894 1281 Email:

Mental Health Ireland
Mental Health Ireland is a national voluntary organisation which aims to promote positive mental health
Contact Information: Tel: 01-2841166


Copyright © 2008 ISMAUK

ISMAUK. Registered Charity Number 1088103. Company registered in England.

Company limited by guarantee number 4079657. Registered office: ISMA UK, PO Box 491, Bradley Stoke, Bristol, BS34 9AH

Our postal address:

PO Box 491
Bradley Stoke
BS34 9AH

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