Stress at work is more common than you may think and you’re not alone. It is reported that over 440,000 people in the UK alone reported work-related stress at a level they believed was making them ill, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2014/ 15. That’s 40% of all work-related illness. For most of us some stress at work is totally normal. The trick is to monitor excessive stress that can negatively impact on your health, both physically and mentally. Although you can’t control everything at work it doesn’t mean you’re powerless. Use the following strategies to help you reduce your work stress and take control before it takes control of you.
Take A Deep BreathSuch a simple one yet something which isn’t always at the top of our list when we’re feeling stressed. We all feel from time to time that our head is filling up and struggle to think straight and focus. If you feel this starting to come on, then simply take a few moments. Simply inhale for 5 seconds, hold and exhale through the nose. Continue this until you start to feel more relaxed.
Remove Yourself From The Situation
Again, a common one but not always in our thoughts. Give yourself some time during work. You will be more effective if you take 5 minutes away from your desk, preferably outside with some fresh air and clear your mind. You will be more effective with a clear head than one that is struggling to think clearly.
A common reason for work-place stress we hear is ‘I’ve got too much work to do’. Something I’m sure we have all been exposed to at some point or other, even if it isn’t at work. If this is you, then use lists. Getting everything out of your head and onto a list can really help you clear your mind and become focused on the task at hand. It will also help you to prioritise your work. Once you have completed that task tick it off your list. This leads nicely onto my next tip.
Speak To Others
If it’s work-place stress then speak to your manager about it. Especially if it’s due to workload. Be honest with them and ask for some support. Your manager will respect you more for having the confidence and respect for them to bring this to their attention.
Whilst at work most of us have access to emails and a smart phone. Emails, pop ins, calls, instant messaging, social media, all shouting for our attention. In addition to urgent deadlines they all conspire to make today’s workers more distracted than ever before. Granted not all of these interruptions can be controlled. You can however limit a lot of them. Turn off all non-emergency notifications from your smart phone; this will cut out a lot of distraction. The interruptions which are a little harder to control like pop ins from your manager can also be controlled, just in a different way. Accept the interruption and make a note of what your manager has told you. Diagnosis its importance and add it your list. Then forget about it and re focus your attention on the task at hand. Doing this will reduce your distractions and teach you how to be more productive at work.
Sleep Well And Eat Right
It is becoming more and more common for people to skip key meals during the day or to eat fast food due to time limitations. It is so important to keep your body well fed, rested and hydrated. Sleeping is a critical part of your body’s daily recovery, charging you ready for the next. Food and water help keep up your energy and feeling well. If you’re struggling in the day to eat well, prepare your food the night before with some fluid, packed ready for the morning.
Physical activity releases feel-good stress-relieving chemicals into our bodies. Every time you find your stress level on the rise, get up and move. You can stretch, run on the spot, dance or walk around the office. This gets your blood and endorphins flowing, making you feel happy and helps fight stress. Remember, stress can influence your body and emotions.
We hear more and more of people taking their work home with them. It’s so important to keep your work life separate from your home life. Taking work home, even in our thoughts gives us little separation. Meaning we start to feel like we are always at work and never switched off. When you get home try and switch of all work related devices. If anything comes into your head relating to work, note it down and forget about it until the morning. You need to get a good balance between work and life.
And Finally, Speak To Professionals
There can sometimes be a stigma attached to mental health and counselling. Stress, anxiety and depression are all very common illnesses and can contribute to mental health. If you feel you can’t cope then speak to your doctor about it. There is a wealth of information out there and people who are waiting to help you. Also, don’t be afraid to speak to your friends and family members. No one will want you to go through this alone. You may also be surprised as to how many of your friends come forward saying they also feel or have felt the same.
I know some of these may seem obvious, but ask yourself this “How often do I stick to these?” Make time for yourself and don’t suffer in silence.
Chris has a passion for helping others through the use of tech. When not designing great new products, you can find Chris spending time with his son and family.