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Managing stress at work

Stress Awareness Month and Mental Health Awareness week have both been big topics of conversation across social media and in the workplace recently.

It’s great to see awareness growing around these issues so we wanted to share some practical tips on how to manage stress in the workplace.

We all feel it at times, no matter how much we love our jobs and our colleagues – stress is an inevitable part of our lives. But learning how to recognise when things are getting too much and how to manage those situations are key to preventing long term issues.

Recognising stress is the first step in being able to reduce it.

Typically there are six main factors that lead to stress in the workplace. These include:

1.       Demands – employees may struggle to cope with the demands and expectations placed on them at work, such as working long hours or having to work when ill or injured.

2.       Control – Strict working environments with very rigid rules on how to carry out tasks can lead to stress if it doesn’t suit someone’s way of working. Similarly a lack of job security also adds pressure to people.

3.       Support – This could include a lack of support from management or other team members, or a lack of resources and equipment to carry out a job properly.

4.       Relationships – workplace conflicts are a huge cause of stress this includes micromanagement, discrimination, harassment, bullying and negative team culture

5.       Role – feeling trapped in a role or feeling undervalued and underappreciated can result in stress or anxiety at work.

6.       Change – Change can be unsettling so if this isn’t managed properly, it can lead to deeper discontentment.

Noticing our triggers is a good starting point, so when you’re feeling stressed, take a moment to think about what the main cause is.

From here, you can start noticing patterns. This is important because it will help to address the problem in the long term.

For example: if you’re continuously feeling there aren’t enough hours in the day to complete your work to a high standard it might be worth speaking to your manager about reviewing your workload.

Alternatively, it may be external factors that are causing you to feel less able to cope with stress at work. Being able to identify this will help you take the next decision in how to get help, whether that’s through HR or implementing changes to your life outside of work.

Practical tips for managing stress and improving wellbeing.

1.       Prioritise your health – this should come above everything else, but it does take discipline. Ultimately, we are responsible for looking after ourselves whether that includes eating more healthily, staying active and improving our sleep patterns. Getting the basics right gives us the best chance of being able to cope with those stressful situations.

2.       Work life balance –making sure you take regular breaks, trying to switch off outside of work, using your holiday entitlement will all contribute to a reducing stress overall.

3.       Spend time doing things you enjoy – whether its learning something new or spending time on a hobby, it can help you to completely switch off from outside pressure and be in the moment.

4.       Speak about how you feel – normalising mental health will not only help you but also the people around you. There shouldn’t be any shame in talking about feelings of stress, anxiety or depression. The more we speak about it, the easier it will become to access help and support whether that’s from a workplace initiative, family, friends or professionals.

Ultimately, stress is a part of our lives but being able to identify our triggers and minimise the overall impact it has on us is something we can control. 

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