Everyone feels stressed at some point – being under pressure is a normal part of life. But becoming overwhelmed by stress can lead to mental health problems or make existing problems worse. According to the HSE (Health and Safety Executive), in 2015/16 over 480,000 people in the UK reported that work-related stress was making them ill; this amounts to nearly 40% of all work-related illness.
Stress within the workplace can affect anyone at any level due to multiple factors: the amount of responsibility held, the demands of the role itself, a lack of support from managers or colleagues, even changes within a role or existing members of the company leaving. Many people may feel that, due to the stigma that can still surround stress and anxiety issues, they are unable to confide in their manager or seek help or guidance when they are feeling stressed. This can end up exacerbating existing problems and making them harder to approach head on in the long run.
This Stress Awareness Month, we’re sharing our top tips for reducing stress in the workplace:
- Take regular breaks
If possible, taking a 5 minute break away from your desk or work station can help clear your mind and enable you to think more clearly about the tasks in hand.
- Work smart
Think about what would help you organise your working day better – whether that’s writing a to do list and checking it off as you go along, ensuring your working area is always clean and tidy, or minimising any distracting background noises such as radios – give yourself the best head start possible.
- Manage expectations
Taking on too many projects with conflicting deadlines will ramp up the pressure – and your stress levels. Don’t be afraid to manage your colleagues’ expectations of what you can and cannot realistically achieve well within your working day.
- Concentrate on creating a work/life balance
Overtime, getting in early and staying late may look impressive to begin with – but be mindful that you are not burning yourself out by spending too many hours worrying about work. If you have a work phone or laptop, try to avoid checking them too regularly during your spare time. It could also be worth enquiring about flexible hours or arranging a day to work from home.
Communication is key in addressing work related stress. Ask your manager for regular one-to-one sessions where you can catch up and discuss certain projects or tasks. Connecting with your colleagues and asking for advice or assistance when you need it will also lighten the load considerably – don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Prolonged levels of heightened stress and anxiety can sometimes leave you feeling unable to manage on your own. If you are experiencing stress or anxiety that you are unable to cope with, the good news is that psychological therapy can be really successful in helping manage these symptoms differently.