Steven Wall - stress awareness week blog 2023

My Stress Signature: Stress Awareness Month 2023

There can often be some stigma around talking about stress. The purpose of Stress Awareness Month is to have open conversations and to recognise the healthy habits which work for you.

We asked Steven Wall, part of our Customer Resolution Team here at the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) to share some of the ways he deals with the stresses of daily life.

I’m a member of the Customer Resolution Team within the NHSBSA. The role involves providing excellent customer service and dealing with some of our most vulnerable customers. I’ve been in the role for over a year now, and I’m really enjoying it so far!

Like any role, sometimes it can be quite stressful when you’re trying to ensure you’re doing the best thing for the customer. As a team, we all work together so that one person isn't overwhelmed and to ensure that tasks are equally shared throughout the day, which is really helpful when things start to feel a little stressful.

Stress has an impact on us both mentally and physically, and it can affect those around us too. I use a few techniques I have learned over the years from working in contact centres to help manage some of the stress:

  1. I go for a walk - at lunch I put on my trainers, grab my coat and go outside. It is a bonus living next to fields and parks so I can get away from the desk and the phones and relax, but sometimes just having a 10-minute walk away from everything can reduce the stress you are feeling.
  1. People often say laughter is the best medicine, and I think they’re right. Laughter is infectious - it lifts us up when we are down, and not just us, but those around us! I’m not saying turn your role into a stand-up comedy show (unless you’re really good) - when you are feeling tasks are too hard or you feel yourself getting overwhelmed on a call or during your shift, try taking a step back sometimes popping on some funny YouTube videos – I prefer compilations of dogs doing funny things.
  1. If I start to feel overwhelmed by a particularly difficult call, I try to control my breathing. I sit at my desk, feet flat on the ground, and breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth. I do this for four seconds in and four seconds out for a short time, and I find it relaxes me, and helps me regulate my thoughts. It puts me in the right frame of mind to keep working.
  1. I make sure I take as much time as I can to meet with people outside of work, such as my friends or family. These moments can brighten up a day or help you realise that whilst work is very important, it is only work, and there are so many wonderful things in your life to help with stress.

  2. I keep a journal or diary to write in every day - what was the day like, what could I have done to make it better, or what I would have done differently if I needed to. I find that by putting thoughts down on paper, the thoughts don’t stay in my head and go around like a merry-go-round. It is like a cathartic release putting pen to paper and letting it all out - you can feel it ebbing away with each word! Doing this also helps me track the triggers and identify if there is a specific area I worry about or stress over.

I’ve found that since COVID-19 we’ve been forced to rethink not only how we work, but how we deal with stress. These are just some of the methods I use to combat stress – why not give some of them a try next time you’re starting to feel the pressure?

You can also find NHS practical self-care tips for managing stress. Find what works for you!