It is not unusual to feel a bit of stress at work, no matter what job you do. When stress starts to interfere with productivity and your home life, you need to think about making some changes. In 2015/2016, 11.7 million workdays were lost due to work-related stress, anxiety and depression. Stress was also further linked with 37% of all work absences.
You can’t control everything at work, however you can take do things to make sure you are calm and alert. Too much stress can impact your concentration, productivity and wellbeing—it can be the difference between failing and succeeding at your job. In small doses, stress can allow you to stay focused, it allows you to stay present and avoid mistakes. With long working hours, tight deadlines and pressure, these safe doses of stress can soon turn into something negative.
Feeling constantly stressed or anxious during work can soon spill over into your personal life. Some warning signs to look out for which may mean you need to make some work related changes include (but are not limited to) :
Feeling anxious, nervous, irritated and/or depressed
Loss of interest in work or nice things you once enjoyed
Trouble concentrating or completing tasks
Physical pain ie. headaches, muscle pains
Avoiding friends and family
Lack of sex drive
According to the Health and Safety Executive’ the main work factors which may cause work related stress, depression or anxiety were workload pressures, including tight deadlines and too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support. The most common occupations for work related stress includes those across the public sector, such as education, health and social care, and public service professionals. However, stress can be experienced within any job role.
If you are feeling particularly stressed, there are things you can do to ensure you remain calm and productive at work.
Reach out for support: It is sometimes a good idea to reach out to a trusted colleague, friend or family member to talk about the stresses you may be facing. Talking about your stresses is an excellent way of lifting some weight from your shoulders and others' sympathy and support will allow you to feel somewhat better in yourself. Other workers within your company tend to be helpful as they are likely experiencing or have experienced what you are going through and can offer you advice. Loneliness can increase your vulnerability to stress and anxiety, so reach out.
Keep your body healthy and your mind will follow: When you have other things on your mind, it's easy to forget to take care of your body with a balanced diet, plenty of water and exercise. These things can improve your physical health and can therefore allow you to feel better in yourself. Even small changes such as a 20 minute walk can improve your heart health and lift your mood. Have less of the things which can negatively affect your mood including cigarettes, alcohol, fizzy drinks, sweets, cakes, and fatty food. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep, too much or too little can negatively impact your productivity and energy levels. Also turning off mobiles and technology an hour before bed can increase the quality of your sleep.
Prioritise and balance your workload: Create a balanced schedule of work and play. Overworking yourself will increase your chances of being stressed. Everybody needs time to relax. Leave your work at work. If it's possible, do not take home any work as this should be your time for relaxation. Ensure you are refreshed for the following working day. Create a list of all tasks you need to complete, listed in order or importance/nearest deadline. This will allow you to focus your energy on the most significant tasks. Try not to switch between numerous tasks before completing them. You will be more stressed and less productive if you give in to multitasking.
Break your bad habits: Bad habits in the workplace can include having unrealistic targets and having perfectionistic traits. Just aim to do your best rather than having goals which all but ensure you will fail. Do not try to control something which is uncontrollable. Many things are out of our control, such as what other people do or don't do. Focus on how you react to these situations rather than trying to control them. Be early. Rushing around every morning before work will mean you begin your day feeling stressed. Set your alarm earlier and be early, giving yourself time for breakfast and a small break before you begin your work.
Think positive, practise mindfulness: By focusing on the negative side of every situation, you may find your motivation and energy levels decrease. Thinking positively is a great way to feel inspired to complete your tasks to the best of your ability. Challenge your negative thoughts by rewording them into positives. Writing down 3 things you enjoyed about the day before you go to bed will allow you to realise that not everything is negative. If you are feeling particularly stressed at work, there are a few subtle exercises you can do including deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and meditation. With the wide range of apps, it is now possible to do guided exercises which allow you to remain calm and positive.
Feel Stress Free is a mobile app, created by UK leading psychologists and psychiatrists, to build resilience to and reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety and mild depression. Even a few minutes a day will allow you to remain calm and collected throughout your working day. You can download it here: www.feelstressfree.com