Stress is a normal part of life that we all experience, especially in the workplace. If left unmanaged, stress can affect you both physically and mentally. Are you finding it difficult managing your stress at work? As part of the International stress awareness week, we’re here to talk about work-related stress and what you can do to make your day that little easier.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, over 480,000 people in the UK reported that work-related stress was making them ill, which amounts to 40% of all work-related illness. These figures are staggering, yet many of us are reluctant to discuss our stresses. We chose not to discuss how we feel because we don’t want to come across as struggling. Stress is not a sign of weakness and can affect anyone in any job role or organisation. Stress at work can have a massive impact on your everyday life if left unmanaged. Learning to manage your stress can help you build resilience and adapt to any challenges.
What is stress?
Stress isn’t a bad thing. It’s what helped our stone-age ancestors survive, and it’s just as crucial in today’s world. Stress is primarily known as a physical response. When we start feeling stressed out, our body thinks it’s under attack. Our body then responds by switching to what we call ‘fight or flight’ mode. During “fight or flight” mode, our bodies release a mixture of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones prepare our body for physical action.
In our modern world, the ‘fight or flight’ mode can still help us survive dangerous situations. An example of this could be when you’re out and about on the road. You’re driving down a street and someone runs out in front of your car, you react by slamming on the brakes. This a prime example of how we use “fight or flight” in our modern world.
Stress in the workplace can help keep us motivated and give us a sense of ambition. But, stress should only be temporary. Too much stress can lead to conditions such as anxiety and depression. You should always speak to your GP if you feel your symptoms getting worse.
What causes stress?
We’ve identified some common reasons why someone may feel stressed in the workplace. Examples of these include:
Difficulty building relationships with managers and co-workers.
Lack of support from managers.
Signs of stress
Everyone experiences stress in all situations, some different than others. What matters most is taking control of your stress to avoid feeling worse. At times, you may not recognise the signs of stress and continue with your daily activities. Ignoring the symptoms is what leads you to feel burnt out at the end of the day. It’s essential to become aware of your body and act when you experience those symptoms of stress. Stress can affect your whole body and even change the way you behave.
Like your thoughts are racing
Can’t switch off
Neglected or lonely
Irritable, aggressive or wound up
A sense of dread
Feeling tired all the time
Nausea or vomiting
Difficulties with sleep
Picking at your skin
Tearful and crying
Over or under eating
Snapping at people for something minor
Biting your nails
Taking steps to reduce work-related stress
There are many different strategies you can use to reduce work-related stress. What matters is finding what works best for you. There’s not a one-size-fits-all; what works for you may not work for someone else.
Tracking your stress – Keep a stress diary for a week or two. From this, you should be able to identify which situations create the most stress for you and how you respond to them. Record your feelings, thoughts and any information about the environment. Include the setting, the people involved, and how you reacted. Reflecting on these situations can help you find patterns among your stress and your reactions to them.
Take time to recharge – when stressed, we need to take time out so we can return to our pre-stress level of functioning. This recovery process requires “switching off” from work by having periods when we do not think or engage in anything work-related. When you’re not able to take time off work, try switching off your phone and focus on any non-work activities for a while.
Practice mindfulness – Mindfulness is about focusing on the here and now. This can help you create space to respond in a new way to certain situations. The NHS provides some great tips for those who would like to practice mindfulness. To find out more information, click here.
Ask for help – Everyone needs a hand from time to time. Discuss your workload with your manager. Talk about setting realistic targets and how you can solve any problems you’re having.
Getting regular exercise – Exercise won’t make your stress disappear at first. But, exercising can help reduce the intensity of emotions that you’re feeling and allow you to deal with your problems more calmly. To start, try doing some exercises when you finish work. You’ll find a new way to switch off from work and even get the benefits at the same time.
Boosting morale in the workplace can help reduce stress levels. You could try organising a scavenger hunt, volunteering together, raising money for charity and even try setting up your own escape room game. At PillTime, we love taking part in different activities and of course, having the odd few PJ days here and there. Last week, we decided to try something new such as bringing a pet to work.
Our customer service advisor, Chloe, brought in her new puppy, Reggie. Reggie spent the afternoon in the office, receiving plenty of cuddles from the team. That afternoon, we found that the office was different to usual; the staff felt happier and were even more productive with their work. Research has shown that bringing your pet to work can boost morale, improve the working atmosphere and increase productivity.
To find out more about our service, visit www.pilltime.co.uk