Yesterday marked National Stress Awareness Day and as the name suggests, it’s about reflecting on stress and how it effects you and those around you.
Mental Health Charity MIND is asking people to ‘do something different’ around mental health in their work or home, so we decided to look up 5 top tips to help you beat stress in the workplace.
Now, there have been many different psychological studies on stress. You always see the same advice; eat healthily, sleep more, get outdoors… The list is endless! There is no limit to the individual stress responses of people in the UK, just as there is no real definition of stress itself. It is ultimately different for every individual and throwing labels onto your feelings can often be detrimental.
The workplace is a unique social sphere in which we are forced to spend the majority of our waking hours with people who we wouldn’t ordinarily come across. You can rarely choose who you work with, or shut Rob up when he consistently moans about his wife! It is this meshing of personality types that can be one of the main stressors in the workplace.
The American Institute of Stress’ President, Dr Kirsch argues that becoming aware of the stressors that affect your job performance, and in turn your daily life, is the first step of managing stress. This will hopefully help you to become a more productive person both at work and at home.
For most people struggling with workplace stress, the main problem is that they do not feel in control. Being able to empower yourself, self evaluate your personal stressors and take positive action in learning to either eliminate or manage your stressors is key in reducing the weight on your shoulders.
Below are Dr Kirsch’s recommendations to help you to take back control and manage your stress in the workplace:
Set a “Stress-less” Schedule. Build “Gap Time” into your day. Dr. Kirsch recommends building in five “gaps” a day. One upon waking, one at 10am, 2pm, 4pm and again at bed time. Each gap is a short two minute (or less) self assessment where you take stock of yourself. Ask yourself, “How am I doing?” Take a deep breath, focus on how your body feels—are there any tense spots? Most people hold tension in their forehead, jaw and shoulders. Relax. Breathe. Simply scheduling a very short “gap” into the stream of information flowing into your consciousness, will allow you to plug into your “self” and interrupt any stress reactions that are building and make adjustments, which will gradually build your resiliency to stress.
Be Assertive- Learn to say “No” or “Maybe”. If your boss or co-worker is constantly dropping work into your already overflowing “inbox” — try this assertive statement: “ I appreciate your confidence in my work. I can try to get to this project completed in a timely manner, but as you can see I am already swamped.” This statement will bring awareness to your overworked situation while also maintaining a positive, team oriented tone.
Take time off. Use your vacation and personal days each year. Even if you don’t travel to an exotic location- just time spent relaxing at home away from your typical workplace stressors will relax you and build your resilience.
Find the “Off” button. Turn off your phones and gadgets after 6pm or 8pm each day. This will allow your body to fully “unplug” from the day’s stressors too. This also means that while at lunch—just focus on eating lunch or chatting with your friends—don’t spend lunch texting or checking emails.
Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk. Ok, this is really two tips in one—but they really work together as a stress busting power house! The best stress management techniques are two-fold including both a psychological and physiological intervention—talking and walking are simple and cheap. Talk to someone about what you are dealing with at work. It does not have to be a professional, a like-minded co-worker, friend or loved one will do. Just the act of venting your frustrations makes them easier to cope with on a daily basis. Walk. Get out and break a sweat. Physical activity is far and away the best stress buster out there. Our bodies have a fight or flight response built in to either fight off an attacking tiger or run away from it to safety. When under acute stress our bodies are flooded with adrenaline and other chemicals to help us escape the “tiger”. In the workplace, you can’t run away from the “tiger” of workplace stress but you can take a brisk walk during your lunch hour or a jog after work to blow off steam and greatly reduce your body’s stress response
If you are feeling like stress is getting on top of you, it’s important to seek medical advice. If you are unable to consult your GP, charities like MIND are always on the other end of the phone.
Call 0300 123 3393
Or text – 86463
Hannah Ryle – Employer Brand Consultant