Stress at Work
Stress in itself is not necessarily harmful. Everyone needs goals and challenges to keep motivated, but too much can be damaging. In today’s 24 hour work culture and ever increasing targets, stress and stress related health issues are on the increase. Here are our thoughts and tips on how to cope with stress.
The symptoms of stress
Stress is a well know trigger for depression and it can also affect your physical health.So, it is important to identify the causes of stress in your life and try to minimise them. In work, worrying about deadlines or about not being up to the challenge of a particular task can cause stress.
But what are the symptoms of stress:
- Increased irritability
- Signs of tension such as nail biting
- Difficulty getting to sleep and early morning waking
- Drinking and smoking more
- Loss of concentration
- Heightened sensitivity to criticism
- Indigestion problems
- It is important to act to relieve damaging stress before it affects your physical or mental health.
How to deal with stress
The secret of managing stress is to look after yourself and where possible to remove some of the causes of stress. If you start to feel things are getting on top of you give yourself some breathing space.
Organise a day off work or away from what is causing the stress or putting pressure on you. Spend the day doing only relaxing things that will make you feel good. It really will make all the difference, reducing the threat to your wellbeing
Other ways to cope with stress include:
- Accept offers of help
- Do one thing at a time (avoid piling stresses upon yourself)
- Know your limits (don’t try to overdo the competitiveness)
- Talk to someone you trust about your worries
- Let off steam through exercise (gentle or vigorous)
- Surround yourself with positive people who are non judgemental
- Practice breathing techniques and relaxation techniques
- What causes stress?
Stress caused by work is the second biggest occupational health problem in the UK – back being the first. There is still some stigma attached to mental health problems, employees are often reluctant to seek help in case they are seen as unable to cope. Stress at work can be the result of:
- Poor relationships with colleagues
- Lack of control
- Poor working conditions
- Being in the wrong job
- Feeling undervalued
- An unsupportive boss
- Lack of communication
- Unrealistic work loads
- Demanding workload or work which is not demanding enough
When people feel under pressure at work, they tend to work harder and harder to try to close the gap between what they are achieving and what they think they should be achieving. They sometimes stop taking breaks and lose touch with their own needs.
Coping with stress
Here are a few ideas to help you cope with stress at work:
- Talk to someone you trust (career counselling can help here as it is totally unbiased and focuses on your specific needs)
- Work regular hours and take all the breaks and the holidays you are entitled to
- Book a day off or a long weekend
- Avail of flexible working practices if available
- Look after yourself (e.g exercise 3 times per week and eat properly)
- Cut down on alcohol and cigarette consumption (they will only add to your stress levels long-term)
- Make your work environment comfortable and suited to your needs
- Discuss your problems with your manager/HR department (it is their responsibility to help you cope with this stress at work)
- Treat your colleagues with the respect they deserve or as you would like to be treated yourself
- If you are being bullied at work seek help either through your superior/HR or from outside advisors (citizens advice bureau etc)