Constantly feeling worried, angry, irritable, tearful, unmotivated or unfocused, really tired or not sleeping well and struggling to make decisions. Does this sound familiar? According to a survey conducted by CIPHR, a staggering 79% of adults in the UK working population feel stressed at least once a month and unfortunately 1 in 14 people said they felt stressed every working day! Stress is highly underestimated and can have very detrimental effects on your body as well as your mood or ability at work, including; muscle tension and pain, chest pain and severe fatigue. But if you still need to go to work of course, what can be done about it? Below are our top tips for trying to combat your stress levels at work and beginning to thrive in your working environment instead:
Track what is causing the stress
Understanding the exact triggers of your stress is a very important factor in trying to combat it. This may not be the easiest task and is likely to be more than one factor. For example, it could be pinpointed to just too much of a demand on your time, or perhaps a certain individual within the organisation, or maybe a lack of clarity with an aspect of your role. To be able to do this task, it will require honesty and patience to break down all aspects of your job and the environment you are working in. Once pinpointed exactly, then again break down each aspect of this trigger and make a plan to tackle it. This could be on your own or with the help from a colleague, friend or your manager.
When you are working in an open plan office environment, you may feel uncomfortable with the idea of practising a few yoga or hypnotherapy relaxation techniques at your desk. Relaxation doesn’t necessarily mean a bath with relaxing music and candles or an aromatherapy full body massage (although they are both lovely!), it can mean as little as closing your eyes for 20 seconds whilst seated at your desk, to allow your eye muscles to relax. It can mean walking around the office block a couple of times to clear your mind and get some fresh air. For some, relaxation can come in the form of exercise; a run, a workout at the gym, an exercise class. These techniques can form part of your daily scheduled breaks as well.
Taking a break, whether this is just for a few minutes or booking some annual leave to get away completely, is absolutely vital to your mental health. Tiny breaks throughout your working day help you to process and retain information better and stay on task, they will help you to be more creative with your responses and it can also promote better social communication and cooperation. If you really struggle with this and end up realising that you have only looked up twice from staring at your screen and stepped away from your desk once in 8 hours, then a technique I have found really useful is to schedule your breaks into your diary so you are reminded. Even if they are a few minutes in between meetings or longer periods of time to get up and walk about or get a drink, it is important that your breaks become habit and feature as part of your working day.
Talk to your boss
Part of your managers job is to make your job more enjoyable. If you have broken down what the triggers are and can speak to your manager in confidence about a plan to help tackle your triggers, they should do their best to aid this, as it will ensure their staff are more effective, efficient and happier. If you are a manager; encouraging communication amongst team members and the management team is a vital part of an effective leadership team – it is led from the top and should be openly encouraged all the time. This is not just to ensure people have a better and less stressful experience at work. It will also positively affect the company’s bottom line.
Seek some professional help
It is very much worth pointing out that the above ideas are useful when dealing with mild to moderate stress levels. It may well be the case that your stress levels have reached a clinical level in which it is vital that you seek professional assistance and guidance. If you have tried the above techniques and they are not even slightly working or you feel your symptoms are continuing to get worse then book an appointment with your GP and they will be able to refer you to a specialist. If you feel you can, it is important that your workplace (your manager and HR) understand how stressed you are feeling and will be able to ask the advice from the designated Mental Health First Aider (if your organisation has one). Don’t feel you have to deal with stress at work on your own. You don’t.
This blog was written by Rebecca Myers, founder of Work In Your Work in Your Work Out, and creator of the app ‘Live Happy’.
Live Happy is a Health & Wellbeing company and part of what we do is to help the corporate world manage their stress more effectively using the correct products and services for you. If you have read this and want to have a chat, please go to www.live-happy.app and get in touch – we would be happy to help!