Are you tired? Do you feel irritable? Do you suffer from headaches, muscle tension, and struggle to concentrate at work? If so, you may be one of the millions of people across the country who are feeling the effects of occupational stress. So how can we manage stress in the workplace?
Occupational stress has many emotional symptoms such as feeling overwhelmed, feeling depressed, feeling anxious about going to work, lacking confidence, and experiencing mood swings. Alongside this, many people report physical symptoms such as general aches and pains, feeling nauseous, losing or gaining weight, and pain or tightness in the chest.
According to a 2019 report by Qualtrics, more than a quarter (29%) of UK workers reported that they felt stressed or emotional because of work, either ‘always’ or ‘most of the time’. Work-related stress, anxiety or depression accounts for around 44% of all cases of ill health and is estimated to cost the UK £34 billion per year. Worst of all, however, chronic stress has been shown to exacerbate many serious health problems such as mental health disorders, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes.
It’s very clear that stress is not something that should be brushed away by employers and employees alike, but rather has to be recognised and managed for the benefit of both the individual and the business.
Occupational stress can be caused by a lot of things. Excessive workloads or unrealistic deadlines are some of the most common, along with difficult relationships with colleagues, disagreements with the management style, being micro-managed, being unclear about what it is that you are meant to be doing, and feeling as though your skills and abilities are being wasted. Stress can be caused by one of them, all of them, or it may be something different. Every person is unique. The important thing is to take some time and think about what is it that is specifically causing these feelings of stress at work.
The approach to managing stress
As many of these causes are due to difficulties imposed upon the employee by the employer and, aside from raising concerns, there is little that the employee to change these causes. What can be changed, is the approach that we take to manage stress in our day to day lives. Try to take a walk during lunch hours to clear your mind for half an hour, work regular hours and take the time off that you are entitled too, make an effort to manage your time both in and outside of work, reflect on your thoughts and feelings often, try to develop relationships in work, and accept that there are some things that you do not have control over.
One of the best treatments for work-related stress is exercise. Aerobic exercises such as running, swimming, dancing, and walking increases the production of endorphins in the brain improving your mood. Exercise also offers the perfect opportunity to reflect on the things that have been causing you stress. Many people report that engaging in exercise allows them to think more clearly and find solutions to their problems that they previously could not work through. Naturally, this can have great benefits to both mental health and performance at work.
Finally, finding time to unwind with people in a friendly and sociable environment is essential to keeping on top of stress. Human beings are inherently social beings. Socialisation, whether that be by talking with friends, going for a coffee with a co-worker, or going for some food after work, has been shown to decrease stress-related anxiety, make us feel more confident, and promote a sense of attachment to those we are close to. This is one of the reasons that we love to host events that bring together people from across different industries to enjoy time together in a friendly environment.
Want to talk more about stress at work or interested in coming to one of our events? You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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