Stretched….or Stressed? 9 tips to tackle workplace stress

by | Mar 28, 2018 | Anxiety, Depression, Featured

We all need to be stretched in life in order to give our lives meaning and help us thrive. Ideally, our daily lives, whether at work or not, would include tasks that use our brains, challenge us and stretch us. This gives our lives a sense of meaning and purpose. But there is a point where being stretched becomes being stressed. Workplace stress causes anxiety and depression and has ongoing negative effects on our health. Are you stretched or stressed? Find out what the signs are and find out how to help reduce stress.

Signs that you are being stretched and not stressed

  • You enjoy your job even though your day is extremely busy. You don’t usually dread going to work. You may feel a little anxious sometimes when presented with a task that is out of your comfort zone. But you cope with it and enjoy the reward your brain gives you when you learn and succeed at something new.
  • Your day is full of tasks, but you feel like you’re on top of them most of the time.
  • You can look back most days and feel like you have accomplished something.
  • Despite your busy days, you find time for yourself – to exercise, participate in a hobby, read, meditate, etc.
  • Even though your day can be long, you are not feeling permanently exhausted.
  • You sleep well and wake up feeling as though you have slept!

Signs that you are suffering from stress instead of being stretched

  • You dread going to work. You often find that even though you’re really busy, you don’t feel very productive, flitting from one thing to the other without finishing anything.
  • You constantly find that jobs are backing up and you’re always chasing your tail.
  • You look back on your day and can’t think of anything that you’ve managed to achieve.
  • You been reading the same book for over 2 months.
  • You can’t find the time or the energy to exercise.
  • You turn down invitations because you are too tired or simply can’t be bothered to do anything extra.
  • You don’t enjoy things that you used to like doing.
  • You feel tired all of the time.
  • You sleep badly, suffering from insomnia, or you sleep all night but wake up exhausted!

Companies doing ‘more with less’ and their contribution to workplace stress

Many companies have struggled through the recession and reduced staff to stay in business. New multi-roles have been created, meaning that one person is now often doing two or more people’s jobs. And they may continue to do so even though often the company has now reached a more stable financial position.

International recruitment agency Frazer Jones say that “HR leaders have become used to being asked to ‘do more with less’ in the last decade. As companies struggled to survive during the economic downturn, this was the go-to maxim to rally the troops. But with business services now on the up, will there still be the same level of expectation on HR departments to operate in such a lean manner?’ The trend appears to be that it is.

There is no doubt that this trend for doing more with less, is contributing to workplace stress. Employees are often doing the work of two or more people’s roles. Pressure on employees mean that the working day has increased on average by 4%.

What is the impact of workplace stress?

The NHS state in a publication on stress management: “Across all sectors, around a third of new incidences of ill health at work are due to work-related stress. An average of 31 working days is lost for each case of stress – several times the average time taken off for sickness per employee per year. Across all employers the HSE reports that stress, anxiety and depression are estimated to account for 12.8m self-reported working days lost each year.”

9 tips to reduce workplace stress and it’s symptoms?

Here are some useful tips to help your stress levels. Try some of these to improve or safeguard your mental health.

  1. Prioritise tasks – Make a list of today’s jobs and concentrate on the ones that will make the most difference. Leave the least important ones to the end. Accept the fact that you are unlikely to clear all of your work by the end of the day.
  2. Look for the positives – try writing down three things that went well or you’re grateful at the end of each day.
  3. Find a way to take some control – The feeling of control is a crucial emotional need and the loss of it is a major contributor to stress. If you think, ‘I can’t do anything about this problem’, your stress will simply get worse. Examine the problem for ways that you can influence the outcome, from talking to someone at work to address working conditions or even updating your CV and seeing what else is out there. But…
  4. Accept what you can’t change – You can’t always change a difficult situation. Look for the things you can change and accept what you can’t.
  5. Set goals – Setting yourself a goal or a challenge, at work or in your personal life, such as learning a new language or a new hobby or sport, will make you more confident. This will help you deal with stress. Our brains reward us when we learn new things and this makes you stronger emotionally and less passive.
  6. Spend time with your friends and family – Friends and family can help to ease work troubles, even though it’s really tempting to shut yourself away when you are feeling stressed. Our friends help us relax and make us laugh, and don’t forget laughter is a huge stress buster!
  7. Be a bit more active – exercising won’t get rid of your stress, but it will lower emotions surrounding it and help you to make clearer decisions. It doesn’t have to be a massive workout, even a walk at lunchtime can lower emotions and give you a new perspective. 
  8. Schedule downtime – Set aside a couple of nights in the week for to socialise, exercise or to just simply relax. Be strict with yourself so on those days you don’t stay on at work.
  9. Avoid traditional stress relievers – Be careful if you rely on caffeine, alcohol or smoking to cope. Long term, these won’t solve your problems. It might provide temporary relief, but your problems will still be there and you may be storing up future trouble.

By taking control where you can, and building in time for yourself, you are much more likely to avoid your stress levels tipping you over into anxiety or depression.

For more information visit our website or get in touch now for a free 15 minute telephone consultation on how we can help you tackle your anxiety, and any related issues.

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