National Stress Awareness Week: Tips for managing stress in the workplace (November 2019)
Ahead of National Stress Awareness Week (Monday 4th November – Friday 8th November 2019), TalkOut has pulled together these handy tips to help you feel calmer, less stressed and more mindful in the workplace.
Heavy workloads, pressing deadlines, poor management and busy commutes can all make for a stressful day at the office. In fact, a recent survey has revealed that work directly impacts on people’s mental health, with over three-quarters of British workers saying that they have felt anxious or depressed because of stress caused by their job.
Here are some tips for managing stress in the workplace…
Make healthy stress your friend
We all have parts of our job that cause stress and, most of the time, your body’s natural response will spur you on to perform. The next time you’re facing a challenge at work, notice how your body responds. For example, you might have an important presentation looming or you might be required to lead a meeting. Your heart rate is likely to speed up as it sends more oxygen around your body and your breathing accelerates. You might suddenly feel more alert and aware of your senses and surroundings. This is a completely normal response to a stressful situation.
Stress in small doses has been said to improve cognitive function and overall health so rather than view your body’s response negatively, try to switch your attitude and be grateful that the stress response is energising you, sharpening your senses and boosting your immune system.
…But recognise if it develops into unhealthy stress
Too much stress or prolonged periods of stress can lead to burnout which if untreated, can develop into mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, as well as having negative impacts on the body.
Taking time off work, feeling demotivated, withdrawn, becoming tearful, sensitive or aggressive in the workplace, could all be signs that you have chronic stress.
Stress caused by things like workplace bullying, being undermined at work or discrimination, are extremely serious and need to be addressed quickly.
Be a single-tasker
It’s easy to get caught up in the mayhem of a busy office environment and get into the habit of bouncing from one task to the next. But by doing this, we’re not really giving the tasks in hand our full attention. While it might seem counter-productive, effective leaders and workers tend to be those who can slow down and reflect, in order to make the best decisions and actions. Slowing down and focusing as much as possible on one task at a time will help reduce mistakes, increase productivity and creativity, and ultimately reduce stress.
Take regular breaks
When you have an ever-growing list of tasks and deadlines, it can be difficult to peel yourself away from your desk. But taking regular breaks during your working day is hugely important to your overall performance and wellbeing. For those of us who spend most of the day sat at a computer, we recommend taking short breaks often, for example, five to ten minutes every hour. This could be something as simple as walking to get some water or a quick five-minute breather outside to get some fresh air.
Taking short periods of time to focus our thoughts and set intentions can be useful to keep stress levels down. Try and empty your mind of your to-do list and just give yourself some time to sit or be quiet away from everything. Throughout the rest of the day, other people and competing urgencies will fight for your attention. But for these 10 minutes, your attention is all your own.
Talk to somebody
If you are feeling stressed then talk to somebody about how you’re feeling. This could be a work colleague, your manager, a friend or family member – whoever you feel most comfortable with. Bottling up your feelings and trying to just carry on is not healthy to our mental health and wellbeing, and can often makes things worse. Early recognition is important so look out for those signs that may just be telling you that something isn’t ok and talk about it with someone you trust.
References: Study commissioned by TalkOut in October 2019. The survey of 2,000 British workers and 200 senior managers revealed that 78 percent of workers said that they have felt anxious or depressed because of their job.
As published on Open Access Government on 31st October 2019