While some stress in the workplace is normal, excessive stress can interfere with your productivity and performance, impact your physical and emotional health, and affect your relationships and home life.
Many employees are reluctant to talk about stress at work but it can affect anyone, at any level of an organisation.Emma Langton
There is still a stigma attached to stress and people still think they will be seen as weak if they admit they are struggling.
It’s important that an employer takes steps to tackle the work-related causes of stress in its organisation and encourage staff to seek help at the earliest opportunity if they begin to experience stress in the workplace.
Whatever your ambitions or work demands, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from the damaging effects of stress, improve your job satisfaction, and boost your well-being in and out of the workplace.
Stress is a huge contributor to people needing time off work. Surveys suggest that over 10 million people in the UK are taking time off due to stress and stress related illness. Mental health issues, including stress and anxiety are the reason for one in five visits to a GP.
“Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure”. (NHS)
The people that I see regularly, whether that’s in coaching or workplace training tell me they still don’t want to go to their GP AND they don’t want to take time off or alert their employer that they are feeling under pressure.
We are all different. What one person finds stressful may be normal or even exciting for another. What one person notices is happening with them (with physical or emotional symptoms) might be different for another person. The trick is to know how to identify it in ourselves and learn what we can do about it. What works well with one person may not work well with you, so it’s important that you find out what works for you.
1. Raise Awareness about Stress in the Workplace
Recognising the things that cause more stress or pressure will help you identify the causes. Whether that’s for you or your workplace. It might feel like it’s your whole job, but it probably isn’t really. I know that it sounds like this is adding more to your to-do list (and I really don’t advocate that) but this is one thing that will pay off. Once you know what works well for you and what causes the stress in the workplace, talk to your employer or employees about this. They may be able to make some changes to help you.
2. Learn Tools and Strategies
Different things work for different people. Sometimes it’s just a simple breathing technique, learning how to relax your body so that you don’t store the tension in your neck, shoulders or jaw. Maybe you take a walk at lunchtime even if it’s just to grab the sandwich. Learn different coping techniques to use as soon as you start to feel the stress in the workplace building. It may take time to find a method that works for you. Having tools and strategies to catch things before the stress gets out of hand means you can get back on track and back to performing at your best.
3. Prioritise Your To-Do List
Writing down all the things you have to do can be very helpful at getting clear on your tasks and priorities. Score their importance between 1 and 10. Look at what you NEED to do, what’s nice to do, what can be left or what can you ask someone else to do? What’s on the list that only you care about? Sort into importance and see what you can leave or delegate.
Tackle the highest / most difficult / most important task first. Doing this when you’ve got most of your energy and brain power helps to reduce stress in the workplace. That often means leaving your email until later in the day.
4. Disconnect from Email and Social Media
I know, you might be quietly dying inside about this, but it’s hugely important and VERY effective at reducing stress in the workplace. Disconnect when you take that walk for your sandwich, leave your phone downstairs at night, switch off when in the car and just listen to the radio, get a separate phone for work so you can switch it off at weekends or during family time. It enables you to properly calm down your brain and create space.
5. Have a Support Network
You might have a manager or co-workers that you can talk to about how you’re feeling. Any opportunity to talk and be heard will help lower their stress and yours, even if you’re unable to change the situation. Sayings things like “I understand this is difficult for you” helps them know that you’ve been listening.
You’re not always there to fix and provide solutions, something people just need to offload. Finding people who will listen and provide the support can balance the negativity.
6. Be Realistic
If you have to give deadlines or make commitments, be realistic about what you can achieve. I often talk to clients and in workshops about creating a buffer between what you can do uninterrupted and without issue and what you can do if emergencies hit. When you’re setting deadlines, allow that buffer. Then you won’t get frustrated, stressed or annoyed at yourself if you need more time than first anticipated.
I hope that’s helpful in going some way to reducing stress in the workplace. My workplace training and workshops cover these things in an interactive way to help your team and workforce be able to help themselves and stay productive. If you’d like to know how I can help you, individually or in workshops, then book a call or contact me
This article was previously published on LinkedIn