Stress is something that we have all experienced from time to time, whether it be in the shops, driving around or even making food at home. However, one of the most common areas we face stress in is at our work, with most people experiencing some form of stress daily.
Did you know there were 0.6 million cases of work induced stress, depression or anxiety in 2017/18 alone? With numbers like this, it’s clear that we need to be tackling work-related stress.
In this month’s article, we’ve focused on the common causes of stress in the workplace and how to counter being stressed out.
What Is Stress?
Stress is an emotional feeling that is usually brought on by feeling overwhelmed by something and not feeling like you can control the situation, this can cause both a physical and mental response.
The feeling that comes from being stressed out will often hinder what you are doing, and will cause you to lose focus and become frustrated with the current situation. Tense shoulders, back pain and headaches are often associated with the feeling of stress, and can cause the situation to get even worse.
According to the HSE, as many as 15.4 million working days were lost because of work-related stress during 2017/18. 15.4 million days is a shocking figure, and businesses will have surely suffered thanks to the amount of valuable time lost.
Common Causes Of Work-Related Stress
We can experience moments of stress in the workplace due to many different things, ranging from strict deadlines to lack of support from the managerial team.
Some of the more common causes of stress include excessive amounts of work, lack of opportunities for growth or promotions, long working hours and low salaries. With pressure to get worked completed on such as tight schedule and to a high standard, stress is usually treated as an everyday thing in most workplaces.
Numbers from the same study from the HSE showed that workload was by far the most common cause of work-related stress, being responsible for 44% of all cases. Taking that number in consideration, it’s really important that employees are not subjecting themselves to an unfair amount of work and managers are not expecting too much from their teams.
Is there anything we can do to counter balance the effects of stress?
Remove Yourself From The Situation
One of the first steps to take when experiencing any signs of stress is to try and remove yourself from the situation (where possible).
Taking a walk and getting some fresh air will allow you to collect your thoughts and calm down slightly. Without taking yourself away from the thing that is causing your stress, you are unable to distant yourself from it and it will continue to irate you and make you feel worse.
Something as simple as going outside on your lunch break will give you some separation from the working environment, and you’ll come back feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the work.
Talk To Someone
If you feel yourself struggling with stress, it’s important that you talk to somebody about it.
Talking to your managers or colleagues is a very effective way of relieving some of the stress, and simply letting someone else know you are having a hard time will help in a big way. By talking to other members of staff or a HR manager, you might find that others can help with the workload and take some of the weight off your shoulders.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and ask someone if they need help if you can see they are stressed out themselves.
Take One Step At A Time
We’ve all been faced with a seemingly impossible mountain of work before, and the thought of trying to get through it all is enough to cause a fair amount of stress.
In times like these, it’s crucial to take one step at a time and try to work through it in parts or sections. Splitting off and trying to do lots of different bits will get you nowhere (and cause a lot of stress in the process), so focus on specific sections and work through it that way.
Multi-tasking may seem like a good idea, but will often lead to a drop in quality and may require you to do it all over again, wasting time in the long run.
Creating checklists and schedules is the most effective way of getting through big tasks, and we recommend finding a way that best suits you. Organisation is absolutely essential when trying to prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed.
Prepare For Stressful Situations
If you have a big project coming up that will likely cause some tension, you need to prepare yourself. Trying to prepare and practise techniques that will allow you to get through the work stress-free is advised.
Make sure that everyone involved with the project is sharing the responsibilities and tasks, and that no one is taking on too much work. If you’ve mentally prepared for a large task, you’ve already taken major steps in preventing any feelings of stress.
Don’t Be Afraid To Disconnect
Taking work home with you is not usually a good idea, and allowing your work life to mix into your personal life could make it hard to separate the two.
No matter how much you may love your job, it’s still important to define a clear separation between work and home life. Everybody needs to unwind after a long day, and a home needs to be a work-free space.
If you’ve fallen behind or have a lot on, we suggest staying later once in a while as opposed to bringing the work home with you.
Make Sure You Rest
Something as simple as getting enough rest each night can help to counter balance the physical and mental effects of stress, and make you a lot more productive in the process.
You might enjoy a coffee or two in the morning, but getting a good amount of sleep will massively increase your productivity and make you feel healthier in general. Sleep deprivation can cause you to have a shorter fuse than usual, opening you up to the possibility of being stressed a lot easier.
Going to bed at a sensible time and getting a good night’s sleep will allow you to be productive the next, instead of feeling tired and potentially annoyed.
Other Ways To Relieve Stress
While removing yourself from the situation and not overworking yourself are the main ways to prevent further stress, there are other smaller ways that will help when trying to deal with everyday stress.
If you’re feeling particularly stressed out, making a cup of tea or listening to some relaxing music could be enough to get you out of that head space. These methods work really well if you’re experiencing small waves of stress, so don’t knock them until you try them.
Stress is something that we all have to face from time to time, but as you can see there are definitely ways to reduce the effects and not let it affect your work.
With so many people suffering from work-related stress each and every day, it’s important that everyone is made aware and an effective support system is put in place.
If you’d like to learn more about spotting the signs of stress in your workplace and how you can help manage stress of your colleagues or loved ones, contact us to find out more and how our HR team could help.
As a Managing Director at Wurkplace since May 2010, Karen has extensive HR, employment law and health and Safety experience from working within the private sector.
She also boasts experience of working in the public sector including local authority, fire service, police, schools, colleges, charities, NHS.