It is important to have good stress management in the workplace and in our everyday lives. When we feel overwhelmed, or stressed for long periods, it can have a negative impact on our health and wellbeing. Frequent feelings of stress can lead to the development of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, which can have a knock on effect on your productivity, focus and our overall mood at work.
The HSE (The Health & Safety Executive) annual statistics on work related stress, depression or anxiety for 2018 revealed that 595,000 workers reported suffering from work-related stress in 2017/18. This significant figure highlights the importance of employers having policies and strategies in place to help employees manage and express their feelings of stress.
As well as CS Healthcare’s easy ways to stay healthy at work, we’ve put together this guide which contains coping strategies you can put in place to help you.
Ask for help
One of the first steps to take after identifying that you are stressed at work is to reach out for help. You could set up a meeting with your HR department, meet with your manager, or simply grab a coffee with a colleague. It isn’t something to be embarrassed about, although you may choose to keep any meetings you have about stress private. Asking for help or support will mean you can share concerns and receive advice on how to cope.
Reaching out also means that your colleagues or management are more aware of how work affects staff, or it could help to raise an issue they had not previously identified. It puts you in control of your stress too, as now you can discuss it openly and begin to tackle it head on.
Manage your time
We all get busy periods at work; when we feel added pressure at all levels in the business. This is when organisation becomes key to alleviating stress levels. Manage your time effectively by:
- Prioritising your jobs – which is the most important? Which has the closest deadline? Which can you accomplish quite quickly? By asking these questions, you can organise a to-do list that is achievable and won’t leave you feeling unaccomplished.
- Avoiding unnecessary meetings – If you don’t need to attend, don’t. Get the notes afterwards and use them to stay up to date on projects rather than being in every meeting but feeling rushed as a result.
- Start and finish on time – Resist the urge to stay late or start early. Work should be left at work so you can enjoy your down time.
- Delegating responsibility – You can’t take on every project in its entirety. Work as part of a team where possible and let others help with the workload to avoid feeling like everything is your responsibility.
Remember it is ok to say ‘no’. Sometimes we might be tempted to say yes to all the extra work handed to us. Instead, calculate how long you'll need to deal with your current workload, so you can see if you have the capacity. If you’re extremely busy and your boss asks you to do more, you can say no. Just be sure to outline the reasons why you can’t in a specific, measurable way, and offer another solution.
Take regular breaks
As part of your time management, factor in regular breaks from your desk and, if possible, your office. Take a walk, go for a coffee with a friend or colleague, but make sure it’s a break for you. Even a few regular breaks to the kitchen or staff lounge will help you keep refreshed and not feel bogged down by the pressures of work.
It’s important to remember that we all have bad days. You cannot be perfect. Trying your best is enough, and if you feel like you are being measured against unrealistic standards, talk to your boss or HR department to manage them. When you feel yourself feeling overly critical of your abilities or work, try to flip your negative thinking. Try to think positively about your work, avoid negative co-workers, and congratulate or reward yourself for even small accomplishments.
Look for humour
A sense of humour can help you to cope with stress too. It may not remove the initial cause of the stress, but it will perhaps help you to look at things from a different perspective. Developing a sense of humour about life's challenges is a great place to start as it has been proven that laughter can help your immune system as well as lower stress levels.
Tidy desk: tidy mind
The space around you can affect how you think and feel. So, keep a tidy desk and, if you can, personalise it so it feels like a comfortable and good space to work from. A plant or a photo of a loved one can help to boost your mood and make the space your own.
We know that a peaceful night’s sleep is vital for keeping us happy and healthy. Sleeping well is also linked to our daytime productivity. If we haven’t had enough sleep, we can find it difficult to focus, struggle to get the creative juices flowing, and it can affect our levels of concentration. It can make any feelings of stress we already have at work even worse if we aren’t well rested.
Take a look at some guides to getting enough sleep. The NHS and Mind both have excellent resources to help you get a better night’s sleep and show the benefits to your overall health as well as how it can alleviate stress.
Try our 8 ways to sleep better at night.
Remember that work shouldn’t be your whole life. Make time for enjoying your hobbies, spending time with people you love and making time for yourself. Finding a balance between work and your personal life isn’t always easy, but it is important if you want to avoid burnout and stress. If you feel like you are neglecting your personal life due to work, try to address it as quickly as you can. Speak to your manager or HR about ways you can tackle your workload or take a better approach to your work/life balance.
What if I own a business?
If you want to learn how to support staff in your own company, The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has a set of official Management Standards for work-related stress, which they expect all organisations to implement. The Management Standards act is a standard against which organisations can measure their progress in tackling work-related stress and enable employers to target action where it is needed. Take a look and evaluate your company, it could help you put strategies in place.
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The information in this article is intended as advice only and should never be substituted for the advice of a medical professional. Always seek guidance from your GP if you are concerned about your health.