8 things you can do to minimise work stress

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A few years ago, a mass study found that half of Brits consider themselves to be stressed.

The study by Bupa revealed 27 per cent of these people said they were “close to breaking point” and that those aged between 45 and 54 were more likely to be suffering from stress.

It found that money was the biggest cause of stress followed by work and life.

Work is a big factor when it comes to stress and a recent survey by CIPD Absence management found that nearly a third of organisations reported an increase in stress-related absence in 2016. Louisa Valvano from The Stress Management Society told the Standard: “According to the HSE, last year 11.7 million working days were lost due to stress, anxiety and depression. Stress, including work related stress, can often be the cause of illness and is known to be linked with high levels of sickness absence.

“A recent Axa survey revealed that 83 per cent of Britons feel stressed at least some of the time during a typical weeks and almost 10 per cent feel stressed all of the time. According to the Index, stress in the workplace is strongly linked to the ‘always on’ culture, with almost three in every five Brits (59 per cent) admitting to taking calls outside of working hours, while more than half (55 per cent) check their emails.”
work stress
What can you do to reduce stress in the workplace?

1. Prioritise

Write lists of things you need to do and prioritise them into ‘must dos’ and ‘to dos’. Put anything that’s not essential to the bottom of your list, or see if someone else can take it on. Perhaps you could even drop it altogether?

2. Start saying ‘no’

You only have 24 hours in a day, so use them wisely. Turn down things that you don’t have the time for or can’t justify doing.

3. Go step by step

Break large projects into small stages and take it one simple step at a time. This is a great way to start those huge projects that you keep putting off.

4. Communicate

If you start to feel stressed on an existing job, tackle it early in a very matter of fact way. Say to the relevant person, “Given the work that’s needed, I need another week” rather than rush in with a frantic “I can’t cope!!!”.

5. Create a good work/life balance

All work and no play is a recipe for stress. So make sure you have a mixture of work and home activities in every week.

What are things you can do to reduce stress in general?

1. Exercise

Endorphins released during physical exercise help burn off the hormones released when you are stressed like adrenaline or cortisol. Even a brisk walk round the block at lunch time will help, but try to get a total of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise (where you are working hard enough to increase your heart beat or raise a sweat) every day, even if you split that into two or three chunks of activity.

2. Take care of your body

Eat quality meals at regular intervals to ensure a steady blood sugar supply. Keep well hydrated with water. Avoid stimulants like nicotine or caffeine (in coffee and chocolate). Get enough sleep to give your body time to repair and regenerate.

3. Find a way to relax

Don’t just watch TV or play on the computer. Find an active way to relax. Try yoga, massage, aromatherapy or just sitting in a quiet room and listening to meditation music.

How can you approach your boss if your workload is too heavy?

Louisa explained: “Prepare for the conversation by writing a list. This way you will be sure that everything you want to discuss is covered and that you won’t lose your train of thought as the conversation progresses. It also means that everything should be covered in one conversation. When you are speaking to your boss focus on the facts and try to remove any emotion from the conversation.

“The conversation may require you to negotiate a compromise in order to come away with a solution but the compromise doesn’t have to be permanent so set a time frame to re-evaluate. You may also need to understand that it could take more than one conversation to resolve your stresses.”

What can an employer do to reduce employee stress?

There are five things an employer can do to help reduce stress in the workplace.

1. Take it seriously

Tackling stress is part of your Health and Safety responsibilities and you are legally obliged to take action if you have such a problem at work.

2. Communicate well

Keep employees informed about changes and finances. Be extra clear about job roles and targets, and be sensitive in the way you communicate.

3. Give feedback

When you see someone doing something right, jump in with generous praise.

4. Remember the team

Stressed people tend to zone out others. So focus on creating good team spirit and get everyone involved. Organise company events out, even if it’s a trip to the pub once a week at lunchtime. Being valued and involved like this is a major factor in happiness at work.

5. Ask for opinions

People often feel stress when they are powerless over their job content. So if change is required, consult those involved so they can have a say in work-related decisions.

What can you do if a co-worker is making you stressed?

Louisa advised: “If a co-worker is making you stressed than we would advise that you talk to them about how you feel. Use ‘I’ statements rather than ‘You’ statements. If someone has upset you, don’t start with ‘You upset me…’ it is better to approach it with ‘I feel upset because….’ . This way you will remove any blame which will mean there is less chance of the conversation turning to confrontation.

“If the conversation feels like it is not heading in a positive direction then we suggest resuming the conversation on another occasion or try a different avenue.”

The Stress Management Society is the UK’s leading authority on stress in the workplace. It is a non-profit organisation that offers practical help and advice on managing stress both for individuals and organisations. Recognised nationally and internationally as a leader in this field, it counts Allianz, the NHS, Mars and Crown Commercial Services amongst its many clients.

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