A heavy workload, a looming deadline or an important event are all causes of pressure in the workplace. A degree of pressure from time to time is actually good for us because it drives us to do our best. But when pressure becomes continuous then it can lead to stress and be the start of a health problem that will impact on our personal and working lives in very negative ways. Here are five ideas for tackling work-related stress, before it takes hold:
- Try not to bottle things up and brood about work. Take time out to talk to someone with an empathetic ear and get their perspective on things. It could be a friend, a family member or a colleague. Get it off your chest. Talking is good for you. If you can talk to your manager about how you feel, they may be able to support you.
Avoid unhealthy habits
- We mean those things that seem like a good idea at the time but can end up making us feel worse. No surprise that alcohol is at the top of that list. Try not to use alcohol, cigarettes or unhealthy foods as the immediate ‘go to’ when you are feeling stressed. Going for a walk would be a better idea.
- See above….we are not talking about full-on sessions at the gym, although they will certainly take your mind off work, but things like walking, cycling or leaving the car at home more often. The thing about exercise is that it releases endorphins, our body’s natural way of relieving stress. There is plenty of evidence to show that being active alleviates stress and depression thanks to those endorphins. Use them.
Eat well-balanced meals
- The trouble with long working hours and heavy workloads is that they can create a ‘vicious circle’ of not eating properly, skipping meals and feeling sluggish and low. Eating well balanced meals will help you to keep healthy and maintain your energy for busy days at work.
5 signs to look out for
Here’s a quick checklist. Recognise any of these? They are all signs of work-related stress:
- Performance has taken a dip?
- More random sick days and consistently late for work?
- Low mood – irritable and restless?
- Withdrawing from the team dynamic?
- Drinking too much and not eating properly?
For information and support on dealing with stress, visit fitforwork.org, or phone 0800 032 6235. Additional information on dealing with stress can also be found on Health and Safety Executive website, and via Mind, the mental health charity, website. Employees in Scotland can visit fitforworkscotland.scot or phone 0800 019 2211.