April 1st marked the start of Stress Awareness Month here in the UK, with a whole 31 days used to spread public awareness around the subject.
Stress is something that everybody feels at some point or another, and there are many situations that can be the route cause. Where stress affects people differently, it’s essential to understand what your own personal triggers are, and what you can do to cope with it, especially when in the workplace.
If not dealt with, ongoing stress can lead to conditions such as anxiety or depression, having detrimental effects on other matters outside of work. So, addressing it and striving to reduce the cause/s is essential.
Below, we have provided some helpful guidance for you, outlining what to do and the steps to overcome stress if you ever encounter it within your workplace.
Pinpoint the source of your stress
Sometimes, there can be more than one cause of work-related stress. But, to be able to tackle it, it’s important to understand why you might be feeling this way in the first place. Perhaps it’s the relationships you have in the office, the environment you’re in, or even the demands of the job.
It can be useful to track your stressors so that you’re able to clearly see if there’s any patterns. For example, keep a journal for a week or two and record your thoughts and feelings alongside any people involved.
Break bad habits
Try to break bad habits first, when wanting to prevent or stop workplace stress. Negative thoughts or behaviour can make job stress considerably worse, so if you’re able to turn these habits around, you could find your issues easier to handle.
- Try not to be a perfectionist – wanting to do things to the best of your ability every time is great and shows that you want to put considerable effort into your work, but remain realistic in terms of what you can produce and your time frames.
- Start to be more confident in the work that you produce – give yourself a pat on the back when you’ve done something well, did something in a shorter time frame, or just managed to get through a difficult task.
- Tidy your desk – this is unlikely to be the overriding cause of your stress, but a clear space will help to clear your mind and improve your working attitude.
Try out different coping mechanisms
There are many things that you can try out to reduce the impact of your stress whilst still in the workplace.
Try and take a few more regular breaks away from the screen to refresh your mind, or, spend some time outside when on your lunch hour. If it’s your tasks that are becoming overwhelming or are difficult to start, try to break them down. Split them into chunks and ensure that you give yourself credit once you have completed a section.
Help yourself outside of work
It’s very easy to try and work around your stress by utilising temporary fixes, for example by comfort eating or taking long naps when you get home. However, learning to be mindful about how you spend your time can make all the difference.
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and implement exercise at least three times a week. A healthy diet will also go a long way – fuelling yourself with lots of nutritious food will have a great effect on your performance both physically and mentally.
Take time to recharge too. Switching off completely when possible can help you to feel reenergised and ready to perform at your best when back in the workplace. You could read a book, plan a weekend getaway, or even just turn your smartphone off for a few hours.
It can be difficult to admit or acknowledge that you are stressed at work, but not doing anything about it can make the situation worse, especially if it’s ongoing and you’re unsure about what to do. Remember – stress is NOT a sign of weakness.
Your manager has a duty of care, so know that they will not be disrespectful or disregarding of the situation. Have an open conversation with them and discuss how you’re feeling, alongside your ideas, if any, on how your stress could be reduced or avoided if the above methods have not been successful.
Getting things out in the open and explaining how you’ve been feeling will not only make your manager more knowledgeable about how you work and what support you need, but it will make them more aware of the actions they can take to prevent you feeling stressed within the future.
There’s absolutely no denying that work can be a stressful place at times, but, understanding when it’s becoming damaging to your health is vital.
By following the above steps and learning about what personally causes you stress, the more likely you will be to avoid it in the future, with the potential of helping others to avoid stress too.