International Stress Awareness Week – AMH Works helps us handle the pressure of the pandemic

This week, as part of the #CovidWellbeingNI Partnership, and as it is also International Stress Awareness Week, Action Mental Health are focusing on tips to manage stress, relieve the pressure and regain control. 

International Stress Awareness Week this year takes on a unique significance as the world adjusts to the continuing pandemic.

And as Northern Ireland finds itself in a ‘circuit breaker’, it could be easy to feel overwhelmed by this second set of restrictions on our movements, and its inherent stresses and strains.

International Stress Awareness Week takes place on 2 -6 November 2020 and its theme this year is ‘Managing Stress and Mental Health Issues in the Age of Covid-19’.

This year’s focus shows that there is hope – that whatever challenges the pandemic brings – we can weather the storm of stress together. And as we negotiate that journey, Action Mental Health’s specialist service which promotes healthy, resilient workforces – AMH Works – has devised a guide to assist us along that path, however long it may last.

By promoting the four As – AVOID, ALTER, ADAPT AND ACCEPT –  AMH Works aims to help us all find relief from the pressures of life in 2020 which has been so dramatically affected by Covid-19.


Though it’s not healthy to avoid a stressful situation that needs to be addressed, you may be surprised by the number of pressures and stressors in your life you can reduce and take control of. It’s ok to say no, to know your own limits, to ensure that you are not taking too much on, and to practice self care.  Avoid people who cause you stress and control your environment. Taking control of your environment can help alleviate pressure, we live on a notified and anxious planet, ration social media and the news. If taking a trip to the local grocery store might cause you worry, try shopping online to create less stress and promote a greater sense of peace and control.


Sometimes you can’t avoid a stressful situation but you can alter it. Speak your mind: It’s ok to voice how you are feeling in a respectful manner, practice becoming more assertive to ensure your worries and concerns are heard. Try to tackle the problem early to avoid the situation from escalating. Finding the middle ground: Be willing to compromise and also change some things about yourself in order to find a happy outcome for all parties.


If you can’t change the stressful situation you can learn to adapt. You can challenge unhelpful thinking patterns and gain perspective. Reframe: viewing a stressful situation positively in the current situation might be tough, but it’s important to take time to pause and reflect. Try to challenge negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts. Creating a ‘good enough’ mindset that isn’t filled with unrealistic expectations will help you cultivate a sense of well-being.


Some situations may be unavoidable and out of our control such as Covid-19. In such cases it is important to remember we have to cope with stress by acceptance. It can be very difficult to do but it can present you with more time to focus your energy on taking care of you! Keep talking: sharing your feelings and expressing your thoughts is more important than ever, talk to a colleague, a trusted friend, a councillor or your GP. Stress and mental health problems have never been more important than now, and the challenges they present never more acute than in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

These new challenges are of major concern for organisations as well as individuals, in the light of growing evidence of their effects in the age of the pandemic. 

International Stress Awareness Week 2020 will provide a platform for stress and mental health problems to be highlighted and for insights from around the world to be illuminated.

Almost one in five adults (19.2%) were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in June 2020; this had almost doubled from around 1 in 10 (9.7%) before the pandemic (July 2019 to March 2020). Feeling stressed or anxious was the most common way adults experiencing some form of depression felt their well-being was being affected, with 84.9% stating this.

Follow us all week on our social media channels for some great advice!

Further advice and support can be found on the CovidWellbeing NI website which the AMH is contributing to in partnership with 15 other mental health charities, as well as the Public Health Agency and the Departments for Communities and Health.

Find out more about International Stress Awareness Week here. Join online for a Global Stress & Wellbeing Summit:  a week of broadcasts, webinars, panel discussions, keynote presentations, networking and much, much more.

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