Stress is one of the biggest causes of health problems in the workplace and one of the main causes of long-term work absence for workers in the UK, yet it can sometimes be difficult to attribute stress as the cause of these challenges.
By embracing this opportunity to start new conversations and develop our understanding of stress, we can better equip ourselves to understand our own feelings and better support others through stressful periods.
Knowing how to manage stress is a crucial element of living a healthy lifestyle and can lead to improvements in your physical wellbeing, your mental wellbeing and reduce the likelihood of longer-term physical health problems.
What actually is Stress?
The World Health Organisation defines stress as ‘a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation’.
It’s important to recognise that stress is something which is experienced by everyone to some degree and is a natural response to facing challenges. Although we all experience it to some degree, experiencing too much stress can have a negative impact on how we perform and feel at work.
Recognising the symptoms of stress at work
It can be a challenge to recognise symptoms of stress in the workplace as you may not automatically attribute these experiences to stress. Some of the key signs of stress may include feeling:
For many of us, we will also experience physical symptoms of stress such as:
rashes or itchy skin
changes to the menstrual cycle
weight gain or weight loss
If we experience stress for a long period of time these effects can significantly worsen and potentially cause more severe or long-term health problems.
Four things you can do for stress management at work:
1. Starting conversations
It can be difficult to open up to others when we are really struggling. By starting a conversation with those around you, you can help normalise and reduce the stigma around stress, making it easier for you to reach out in the future and letting others know that it is safe to reach out too.
2. Exploring healthy coping mechanisms
How do you deal with stress? It can be easy for us to rely on reactive strategies for coping with stress and find ourselves treating ourselves to that extra chocolate bar or glass of wine after a stressful day. However, it is best to be proactive and have a few healthy habits which help reduce feelings of stress and the likelihood of these crises. Take the time now to learn what works for you, whether that’s a regular evening run, a self-care routine or learning a new breathing technique.
3. Prioritise Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important bodily functions and ensuring you get enough can significantly reduce cortisol levels, one of the body’s stress hormones. 40% of adults in the UK report feeling more stressed as a result of poor sleep - trying to stick to a regular sleep schedule and creating a restful sleep environment for yourself can have a huge impact on reducing stress levels.
4. Taking a break
Make sure to still make time for the things that you enjoy and make you feel relaxed. Down time can really help you to take a step back and gain a new perspective on those stressful situations and help restore your energy so you can perform better and enjoy your work.
The way wellbeing is viewed in the workplace has changed dramatically over the past few years. Organisations now have the ability to closely monitor measures of employee wellbeing, such as employee turnover, absence or feedback from employee surveys.
Employers have embraced a range of wellbeing initiatives such as workshops, flexible working or wellbeing days which has allowed them to retain top talent, boost productivity and employee satisfaction.
There is no doubt that workplace wellbeing is a top priority which is why it is so important to be aware of how we can combat stress.
Stress Management and Wellbeing: Support from D4S
If you’d like to find out how we can support you and your organisation with stress management and wellbeing within the workplace at a leadership team or individual level, get in touch with a member of our team at:
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