Managing your work-stress in 5 simple steps

It’s usual to feel slight levels of stress during work, regardless of occupation. This could be due to workload, deadlines or even your work commute. When the stress you experience begins to interfere with work production and 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 in your work environment however you can take some measures to ensure you remain calm during working hours. Excessive amounts of stress can impact your concentration, production and wellbeing - it can be the difference between failing and succeeding within your job role. 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 pleasurable things you once enjoyed

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Extreme tiredness

  • Trouble concentrating or completing tasks

  • Physical pain ie. headaches, muscle pains

  • Social withdrawal

  • Lack of sex drive

  • Substance abuse

Common causes of workplace stress and anxiety may be linked with a fear of losing your job, excessive workloads and long shifts, tight deadlines yet with high standards of work to be completed, lack of support from managerial staff, lack of training provided for staff (inability to complete work tasks effectively), workplace conflicts, lack of results and lack of reward schemes. According to ‘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 public sectors 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. These include:

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 as you have nobody to support you.

Keep your body healthy and your mind will follow: When you have other things on your mind, it can be relatively 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 rate and lift your mood. Reduce your intake of things which can negatively affect your mood which includes caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, trans fat and food with high levels of chemical preservatives. 8 hours of sleep is advised, 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 is possible, do not take home any work as this should be your key time for relaxation and 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 the other, this can cause confusion and may mean that you are not focusing all your attention on each task at hand.

Break your bad habits: There are a few habits which can result in stress at work, by breaking these you should feel your stress levels decrease. Bad habits in a workplace can include having unrealistic targets and having perfectionist traits. Just aim to do your best rather than having goals which will allow you to fall short. Do not try to control something which is uncontrollable. Numerous things are out of our control, such as other people's behaviour. Focus on how you react to these situations rather than trying to control the situations. Be early. Rushing around every morning before work will mean you begin your day feeling relatively stressed, set your alarm earlier and be early, giving yourself time for breakfast and a small break before you begin your work.

Think positive: 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 re-wording 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.

Thrive: Feel Stress Free can allow detection, prevention and management of work-stress, even if it’s just for a few minutes. It can support you in tracking your moods and potential triggers whilst recommending activities for you to keep calm. To see more about Thrive can help or what we can do for your organisation, visit: thrive.uk.com

Sam GlassComment