Since 1992, April has been stress awareness month, during this time health care professionals across the country join forces to help increase awareness about the causes and cures for stress. Of course, one of the main reasons people are stressed is work. We spend so much of our lives at work, that it’s only natural that it can be one of the main sources of stress in our lives.
Whilst a certain level of workplace stress is normal, when it starts to impact your physical and emotional health, then it’s time to act.
There are several things you can do to try and reduce your stress levels.
Talk to Someone
- Whether it’s a colleague or someone at home, explain how you’re feeling. The other person might not be able to “fix” your problems, but by sharing your issues, it will help.
- If you feel able to share with your boss, it might be that steps can be taken to help decrease your workload, if it’s that, that’s causing you issues.
- If you feel isolated at work, then take small steps to start to engage with your colleagues, get to know them.
Look After your Physical Health
- We had a chat in our office about how we dealt with stressful situations and most of us said we used exercise, whether it was going for a run, walking the dog or a Zumba class.
- It doesn’t have to be something as energetic as a lunchtime run, maybe just a 20-minute stroll near where you work, or going to the gym before or after work.
- Whatever form of exercise you choose make sure it’s something you enjoy! By choosing something you enjoy, you’ll look forward to it and won’t become yet another chore.
Look After your Mental Health
- Someone once told me that I should make a list of 10 things I enjoyed doing, some small things (e.g. reading) some larger things (going on holiday) They then asked me how many of those things I made time to do either every day or every week. The results were shocking, I was barely making any time for the things I enjoyed doing! My life had become one massive list of things I wasn’t enjoying.
- It can be tough if you’re looking after a family or have other responsibilities, but try and schedule at least an hour a day where you can do something for you. That might be an exercise class, or 20 minutes reading, or even a soak in the bath, but give yourself sometime for you!
A Good Night’s Sleep
- A good night’s sleep can really help your state of mind, so try and make sure you’re getting enough.
- If sleep is something you struggle with, then try and get yourself into a routine. Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time (even at weekends!)
- Ban your laptop / phone / tablet from the bedroom, the last thing you need is to read an e-mail before you go to sleep that’s going to worry you. So, don’t check!
- Most phones have an airplane mode, so put yours into this.
- Try reading before you go to sleep or listening to peaceful music.
- You could maybe download a sleep or meditation app.
- Blackout blinds / curtains can also help you get a good night’s sleep.
- Your food choices can help with your general well-being too, try and minimize sugary snacks and fizzy drinks, whilst they might give you a quick boost, ultimately, they’ll make your blood sugar dip and that will increase your anxiety levels.
- Try and reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol.
- Sometimes when your stressed it can be because you feel like your drowning under a pile of work and have no idea where to start.
- Take some time to put together a “To Do” list, what are the tasks that need your immediate attention, what can be put off for a few days and is there anything you can delegate?
- Try and organize appointments sensibly. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get from one to another without feeling rushed.
- Be realistic about what you can achieve in a day!
- It really is OK to say No! If someone tries to pass on a task that really isn’t yours, then say no!
- If your boss tries to put too much work on you, it’s OK to point out that you’re at your limit.
- Try and get away from your desk at some points during the day, whether that’s to make a cup of tea, or a walk at lunchtime, time away from your desk will help you refocus.
- Also make sure you take all the holidays your entitled to. SO, few of us take all our holiday days because we are worried that we have so much to do, that it turns out to be counterproductive. Days off and holidays are good for you!
These are just a few things that you can do to try and combat stress in the workplace, but if you feel that your health is really being affected then please contact a healthcare professional.