Work Related Stress

Stress is not an illness, however if stress related symptoms are not managed and pressure exceeds our ability to cope, then mental health issues can occur. According to the Health & Safety Executive, as much as 40% of workplace sickness in the UK can be attributed to stress.  

Are any of the following triggers for work related stress familiar to you and causing you angst at the moment?  Read on for some helpful hints,  information and ideas on how to cope with these challenges...

Typical Triggers for Work Related Stress

  • Lack of control over work
  • Time pressures / excessive or inflexible working hours
  • Too much or too little work / responsibility
  • Confusion about duties or responsibilities
  • Lack of job satisfaction
  • Little development opportunities
  • Inadequate training
  • Poor work/life balance
  • Difficult relationships at work / bullying / harassment
  • Lack of support and/or lack of contact with colleagues
  • Organisational issues - restructuring, job changes

What you can do...

Acceptance of those things you cannot control - Channel your energy into what you can change.  All too often we worry about things that may not ever happen and think too far ahead.  Try to live in the present as much as possible and think about what you can do today.

Relationships: There are times when relationships at work can become strained for various reasons - working conditions and environmental factors, inequality of workload, bullying/harassment, personality clashes, people not 'pulling their weight', any issue affecting dynamics.  

  • Communicate effectively and with respect...lead by example.  
  • Deal with problems as they arise...dwelling on them will contribute to your stress levels and affect your concentration.
  • Try to build a 'good enough' working relationship with your manager/supervisor so that when and if you have personal issues that are affecting your performance or time at work in some way, they can be aware and perhaps look at what short term measures and support can be put in place for you.
  • Reflect on your behaviour in the workplace.  You don't have to like everyone but you need to be professional.

Time Management:

  • Get organised and keep your to-do list up to date. 
  • Prioritise your workload - if you are struggling to do this due to your workload then consider asking your supervisor to assist with the prioritising.
  • Having not enough to do can be just as stressful as too much - is there anything more you can do to be proactive and create work that could be more fulfilling whilst you are going through a quiet time at work?
  • Plan your annual leave/holiday entitlement in advance where possible to ensure you always have a break to look forward to and that you don't miss out on the dates you want because someone else has got in first!
  • Take your breaks - fresh air and a change of scenery at lunch time can do wonders to recharge the batteries.

What are your goals?  Work out what your priorities in life are so that you can keep on track with where you want to be without putting too much pressure on yourself.

Do you want promotion or working towards a different role?  Quite satisfied with what you are doing but maybe there is that course you wanted to do?  Hold the bigger picture just in focus so that you don't lose sight of your goals.

Organisational issues such as restructuring, budget cuts, changes to role can all bring on an extremely challenging time, particularly if you have other stressors in your life.  Change can be a difficult concept to get our heads around sometimes, however remember what I wrote about acceptance above - try to 'let go' of what is already out of your reach and focus on what you can do something about.  Always try to give change a little while to settle.  We often perceive things to be worse than they actually are.

Learn to say "No" more often - firmer boundaries manage other people's expectations of you more reasonably and prevent resentment from creeping in as a result of overload on your part.  By all means, work hard, be passionate about what you do but know your limits to prevent others taking advantage or assuming that you are coping.  

Support Services:

  • Does your place of work have an Occupational Health Department?  Have an awareness of the referral procedure for this if you have been unwell due to mental health issues or physical problems.  Usually a Line Manager would be able to refer you and gain access to advice on how to support you better in the workplace. 
  • Perhaps your place of work has a Welfare or Counselling Department where you can gain support and help in dealing with your stress levels.  Taking time to look at your coping structure with a professional can be extremely beneficial.
  • Consider contacting your HR or Personnel Dept (if you have one) for advice around problems at work.
  • Are you a member of a Union?  Sometimes advice from a Union can assist if you think you have not been treated fairly in the workplace.

Take good care of yourself

  • Sleep is so important for our mental wellbeing and is often the first thing to be affected when we are stressed.  Having a regular sleep cycle is beneficial. Consistency in the time you go to bed and get up in the morning helps the body to develop a routine. If you are a shift-worker, a good wind-down routine before bed can be helpful - the brain needs to process events of the day before sleep.
  • Exercise by doing something you enjoy.  If you are in a job which prompts a build up of adrenaline (emergency services etc), then it is important that you dispel any unused adrenaline to prevent stress overload in the body.  Exercise can also help to release those positive endorphins that make us feel happy.
  • Relaxation is just as important as exercise in maintaining good mental wellbeing.  Reading, listening to music, yoga, pilates, a gentle walk in the countryside...whatever works for you.  Perhaps try some Mindfulness or meditative techniques.  Hypnosis Downloads are a good source for relaxation scripts.

Are you someone who works in a job where you are exposed to potentially traumatic events? E.g. emergency services, the military, foreign correspondents etc.  Click here for information on TRiM - Trauma Risk Management.

Get a free download from Hypnosis on the Uncommon Knowledge Facebook Group

Remember: A healthy balance between work and play is down to you to maintain to ensure you are getting the most out of life.

Please do see your doctor if you are worried your stress levels are no longer within your control as you may be developing longer term mental health issues.

Sometimes laughter really is the best medicine - this video clip certainly made me chuckle and I think we can all identify with how stress can creep up on us as Ellen DeGeneres describes...

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