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Let’s talk about stress

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5 helpful tips to help manage stress at work.

In today’s society, where technology has a 24/7 influence and the pressures of modern work life are high, stress has become more prevalent than ever.

The Health and Safety Executive reported that in 2018 15.4 million working days were lost in the UK due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety, with an average of 25.8 days lost per case. This trend is further supported by General Secretary for The Trade Union Congress, Frances O'Grady, who said, “work-related stress is a growing epidemic”.

Stress can manifest itself in many different ways with some common symptoms including feeling:

  • irritable, aggressive, or impatient
  • over-burdened
  • anxious, nervous or afraid
  • like your thoughts are racing and you can't switch off
  • unable to enjoy yourself
  • worried about your health

In most cases, it may not be possible to directly control the factors impacting stress at work (and that’s probably one of the reasons it’s there in the first place), but by viewing stress through a more positive lens and taking some constructive steps to help yourself, it is possible to manage it.

1. Don’t forget to breathe

There are many breathing techniques out there to help relax and control the physical symptoms of stress and the good news is you already have the skill to attempt any one of them.

A simple “breathe in, breathe out” exercise for a few minutes each day or during an episode of stress can have significant calming effects if practiced regularly.

2. Connect with people

Under stress, it can be tempting to keep your head down and become isolated from interacting with others, perhaps for fear of being judged negatively for sharing how you feel. You might find engaging with others a welcome distraction and in fact human connection can have a significantly positive impact on relieving the symptoms of stress.

3. A healthy body drives a healthy mind

It is widely reported that an increase in physical activity can positively impact stress levels. Try to set aside some time each week, to build in some form of exercise into your schedule.

Higher levels of activity can release endorphins that boost your mood and help to cope with stress. Maybe even let your team know your intended plans to mitigate the guilt or apprehension faced by leaving the office to go for a run or to a gym class.

4. Rewrite the negativity script

If you can, try to keep a journal or a note of the negative thoughts or stories your mind is telling you when you are feeling under pressure. You are the author of these stories and if you don’t like the narrative or how it makes you feel – you can change it!

For example, if you are worrying about how badly your boss will view you if you fail to complete a project on time, try telling yourself how well you will be viewed and how good you will feel when you do complete the project.

5. Organisation to create headspace

When work is stressful it is common to feel out of control. So, focus only on what you can control and punctuate your day with some structure. You can do this by:

  • Creating a daily “to do list”;
  • Taking regular breaks;
  • Eating lunch; and
  • Having time away from your desk to recharge.

Like most things in life, these tips take focus and practice and to be truly impactful, they should be embedded into your routine. Try linking just two or three of these tips the next time you feel stressed and notice the positive impact on your mood.

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