Stress in the workplace is a well known phenomenon. The detrimental affect our jobs can have on our mental health is common knowledge. Anyone who has ever had a job in their life will have experienced some form of stress deriving from the work they do. Be it due to a tight deadline, or the need to carry out a challenging task. High levels of stress in the workplace can lead to burnout or mental health problems.
A study by the UK mental health charity Mind has defined work as one of the biggest causes of stress in people’s lives. With 34% saying their work life was either very or quite stressful, ranked higher than financial problems or debt (30%) and health problems (17%). Additionally, the stress of work has led employees to drink. With 57% saying they drink after work and 14% drinking during the working day to cope with the constant pressure.
Now although these grim statistics may be alarming, you can combat work related stress with the right team and the right managers in place there to support their employees. Along with that comes the importance of having a few techniques in mind that can help manage the inevitable stresses of work. This article will guide you through some techniques in dealing with stressful situations in the healthiest and most productive way possible.
- Common causes of stress in the workplace
- The negative effects of stress in the workplace
- Steps to manage stress in the workplace
- Factorial’s holiday and absence software
- ✅Try out Factorial’s Time-Off software by registering for free!
Common causes of stress in the workplace
- Low salary
- Unsociable hours
- Bad management
- High performance expectations
- Excessive workloads
- Work that is not engaging or challenging
- Lack of social and emotional support
- A bad relationship with colleagues
The negative effects of stress in the workplace
Stress in the workplace is harmful to not only your mental, but also your physical health. Additionally, the side effects of stress in the workplace can transgress through headaches, difficulty concentrating, problems sleeping, a short temper, among other things. Chronic stress occurs when your stress hormone that was designed to be released by your body during emergencies, is sent out on a constant basis, which puts your health at significant risk. Some of the symptoms of chronic stress include insomnia, migraines, anxiety, depression and irritability. Chronic stress also causes behavioural issues such as overeating, excessive drinking or drug use.
Steps to manage stress in the workplace
Analyse your stressors
Keep a notebook and write down situations that make you feel stressed and how you reacted to them. By analysing your behaviour and reactions you will learn to better know what triggers you and how you automatically react. By understanding your reaction, you can work to improve it for future stressful situations. For example after a stressful conversation with your boss, what is the first thing you do? Do you go to the vending machine to get a snack, or do you begin anxiously biting your nails. By understanding your body’s automatic reaction to a stressful situation you can attempt to train yourself out of that unhealthy reaction, to having a more healthy response. It will also aid you in finding patterns behind your stressors. Which will help you manage your stress levels.
Additionally, writing about your thoughts and feelings, also has a positive influence on stress. It acts as a cathartic process which helps you let go of stressful and anxious thoughts. It is recommended to keep a diary with all your thoughts to record how you feel and why. This will help you let go of your stresses and anxieties.
Create healthy responses to your workplace stresses
When you feel yourself getting stressed or worked up, take a minute to breathe and count to 10. This will help prevent you entering a vicious stress cycle. It is important to develop ways to manage your stress in a healthy way. Instead of drinking alcohol or overeating try exercising. When exercising your brain releases endorphins that act as painkillers and help significantly reduce stress. However, not only exercise does this. Other physical activities such as walking also releases these endorphins, and therefore works to help mitigate your stress. Another healthy way to deal with stress is by filling your time with activities that make you happy. This could include hobbies or spending time with loved ones. This is a much more productive and beneficial way of dealing with stress symptoms.
Eating clean is another healthy response to stress. Although it may be tempting to reach for the sugary snacks and refined carbs, this actually leads you to a crash in energy and can also affect your mood; which aggravates your symptoms of stress. Eating foods heavy in Omega-3 such as salmon, flax seeds and walnuts, are proven to boost your mood and help relieve symptoms of stress.
Have a regular sleeping pattern
Sleeping is an incredibly powerful stress reducer. Aim to sleep 8 hours every night; which is the ideal amount of sleep an adult needs to operate at their optimal level. It is also important to create a sleeping routine, involving going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning. When you have slept well, you will be much better at coping and dealing with stress in the workplace. It also regulates your mood, improves your concentration levels and betters your decision-making processes.
Give yourself time-off
It is vital to work your allocated 8 hours and then log off. As overworking is not good for your productivity levels or your mental health. It is important to establish boundaries, and once you have finished work you completely disconnect from all work related topics.
However, sometimes even after your shift it may be hard to disconnect. In this ever connected world, it is hard to simply switch off from what is going on around us. Although being constantly connected to each other has its perks, it can also be very detrimental in achieving inner peace and tranquility. It is important to learn to switch off and make time for yourself. This is especially paramount during this new era of remote working. As before, when people worked in the office there was a clear distinction between their work life and home life, however now that both have merged into one, the lines have become a lot more blurred. To really disconnect from your workplace stresses, you should create a clear boundary. So that once you have left work, you turn off the work notifications on your phone and you switch off and relax.
This can not only be achieved by turning off your work notifications. You also need to switch off your work related thoughts. If you aren’t getting any work emails on your time off, but are still stressing about your demanding boss then it will not help you combat your work related stress and anxiety. You need to train your mind to switch off. Now this is easier said than done. However, yoga and meditation have been proven to help calm and focus your mind, helping you achieve that mental tranquility.
Try to have positive thoughts instead of always thinking of things in a negative light. This can be very difficult as it is hard to change the way your mind works. However, little exercises can help such as writing 3 positive things about your day everyday. This will help remind you about the good that exists in your life. As it can be very easy to solely focus on the bad sometimes.
Talk to your supervisor or manager
It is well known that employees’ productivity levels increase when they are happy. Therefore, it is in your managers interest to make sure you feel happy and content in your job, and if you have any issues it is important to address these with your manager. Be open and transparent with them and explain what is causing you stress in your workplace. They should then try and develop a plan to help you manage these stresses in a productive way. This could involve training to help you manage your tasks, or even changing up the tasks to be more stimulating or challenging. By making your manager aware that you are struggling, it means in future situations they will be more aware of the things that cause you stress and they can then help you better combat them.
Your employer may also be able to offer you resources to better deal with stress, through the form of an employee assistance program (EAP). This could include online information, counselling, or getting you in contact with mental health professionals.
Open up to someone close to you
Expressing yourself and being open regarding your stresses and worries is scientifically proven to help combat stress. However, this is not always easy for some people, but talking to someone close to you who you trust, it can help relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety. Just having someone to listen to you and offer advice goes a long way in relieving the pressure, so you don’t feel like you have to fight it alone.
Factorial’s Holiday and Absence software
Having time-off is also very important in managing stress. Taking a break from the grind of everyday life can help you better deal with stress in the workplace. This could come in the form of a weekend away, or taking a few days off to explore somewhere new. When you come back, you will feel rested and rejuvenated and ready to take on any challenge your job throws at you. This is where Factorial comes in. Factorial can provide you with the best and easiest way to manage holidays and absences. By managing your holidays and absences with our time-off software, you simply have to request time-off on the system, which then only needs to be approved by your manager and you’re good to go. By automating your holiday requests it makes the process of booking time off a lot simpler and plain sailing. Meaning less stress for you.