It can seem that the word stress is everywhere and in this fast paced world, is commonly used. Just think of asking ‘How are you feeling?’ to someone you know at work and it wouldn't be too surprising if the answer was ‘I’m stressed out!’, ‘It’s stressful!’ or ‘I’m under so much stress!’.
Ask someone why they were off last week and you may hear ‘I was suffering from stress!’
Statistics show that almost three quarters of the population in the UK have felt so much stress that they have felt overwhelmed and unable to cope and it seems to affect women more than men.
Around 45% of all illnesses that result in time off work can be linked to stress. A survey showed that the main work-related stress factors are described as being too much pressure being placed upon an individual, too much responsibility and lack of support from managerial staff. With the estimated cost of work related stress within the UK costing a staggering £28 billion pounds per annum due to staff being absent from their jobs, it is definitely an issue that needs highlighting and companies, who have a duty of care towards their employees, must do everything they can to implement adequate support and thus minimise stress within the workplace.
Employees who are under stress may have reduced ability to make decisions which can lead to errors and mistakes being made. Therefore it is imperative that stress is managed effectively and identified early on so the workplace can become a healthy and balanced place to be and where you are comfortable in asking for help, safe in the knowledge that both managers and colleagues are there to support you and one another.
Identifying and recognising areas of stress, especially in yourself, can be difficult but common indications that can be experienced are increased irritability, difficulty in concentrating or remembering things, fatigue, headaches, anxiety symptoms and wanting to isolate yourself from others.
Setting time aside to prioritise self care, even at work, is very important. Taking regular breaks from busy work schedules, eating and drinking well, fresh air and relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises can all be implemented at work and can be of huge benefit.
Break large tasks into smaller more manageable steps where possible which will make it more manageable. Explore time management and try not to focus on unnecessary tasks, delegating where appropriate. Set yourself realistic goals and do not expect too much of yourself. Communicate clearly with colleagues and ask for help if needed.
Give yourself clear boundaries that you adhere to, regarding yourself and your colleagues. Define your working hours and refuse to have to negotiate if you feel you are taking on more responsibilities than you should be.. Limit work related communications once you have finished work and be clear about what you are and are not prepared to do that may jeopardise a healthy work - life balance.
Having supportive relationships in the workplace is imperative. Have honest and open communication with an emphasis on collaboration and sharing workloads equally. Say when you feel overwhelmed and seek support from mentors, trusted colleagues and managerial staff. Discuss how stress affects you and be open to identifying stress in others.