How to recognise and reduce workplace stress…

According to Mind, the mental health charity, 1 in 6 workers will experience a common mental health problem – anxiety and depression.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of people have felt so stressed in the past year they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope. 

We all live very busy lives at home and at work.  Stress isn’t always a bad thing.  However, sometimes it all gets a bit too much for us to manage. 

Your health should be your priority and ultimately it’s your responsibility too. Organisations have a duty of care to protect your health and safety of course. 

There are clear obligations and legal responsibilities for companies to comply with regulations and legislation.  However, you also play an important part in contributing to a caring and supportive culture and environment at work.

Learn to recognise the early warning signs

When you are really busy it’s easy to take on more and more work.  It’s easy to focus on the task at hand and focus our time on meeting objectives.  At these times we are increasing our chances of experiencing a higher level of stress.  We tend to take our health for granted and it slips down on our list of priorities.

Watch out for the following habits:

  • Longer and longer hours in the office
  • Unrealistic deadlines and demands
  • High volumes of work
  • Skipping lunch breaks
  • Working on your days off
  • Working during your annual leave
  • Ambiguous roles and responsibilities (duplication of efforts)
  • Unsupportive management

Recognising the possible symptoms of stress will help you address and manage before you need professional help.

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression or low mood
  • Fatigue
  • Too much sleep or difficulty sleeping
  • Muscle tension
  • Comfort eating or loss of appetite

How to reduce the effects of stress

Looking after your physical health can dramatically help reduce the effects of stress.  It will help you cope with the natural stresses of work and life.

Here’s what the CIPD says to organisations: With little more than 18 months to the next decade, you should be taking stock of all your policies and procedures. It is important to get Wellbeing right in your organization so that you can attract, retain, motivate and develop the staff that you need for success in a decade in which competition will be even greater.

  • Reclaim your lunch breaks at work:  How many times do you eat lunch at your desk or skip lunch altogether?  Lunch breaks with your colleagues do have lots of work and health benefits.  It’s an excellent opportunity to build those very important relationships with your manager, colleagues and get to know them as people not just a job role.
  • Organise a work picnic:  Again this is a great way of building good relationships at work.  It’s also about taking time away from your desk.
  • Talk to your friends and family: Make sure you are sharing how you feel with your close friends and family.  It really does make all the difference.  They will want to listen and be supportive.
  • Talk to your colleagues:  Health is a very personal subject and it’s important to talk to people you trust.  1 in 4 of us will experience a common mental health problem.  Therefore, it’s highly likely someone in your network (colleagues or your manager) may have also experienced stressful situations.
  • Sleep well:  Everyone has their own sleeping pattern.  The key here is to understand what works for you.  The aim is to feel refreshed and energetic throughout the day.
  • Eating healthy nutritious foods:  It’s really important to get the right balance here.  It’s really easy when you’re busy or stressed to grab the sugary snacks.  You’ll get that quick high and then soon come crashing down as a result of the sugar fix.  This will impact on your mood.
  • Drink water:  We all know the benefits of drinking plenty of water.  I’ve always struggled.  However, now I add a couple of slices of lemon and lime and carry this around with me everywhere.  I quite like the girly container I have too!  It matches my brand colours too!
  • Exercise regularly:  Just the word exercise has negative connotations but it really doesn’t have to be hours and hours at the gym.  It can be walking around the park or countryside, or going for a swim or gardening.  I love walking and I fit my exercise into my daily routine.  As I factor exercise into my daily routine I don’t have to find extra time in my already very busy day.