How we manage stress in the workplace clearly affects how we react to it and the subsequent impact that it has on us personally. Chronic stress can have a damaging physiological and mental impact, leading to long term sickness, substandard role performance, poor decision making and even role attrition.
Fortunately, an increased focus on mental health and the recognition of the impact of stress on the financial bottom line, means that stress is being taken seriously.
For people living and working in the South West, stress in the workplace can be doubly compounded by money worries as per the research carried out by ‘Forth with Life’ which shows that people in the South West of England are more likely to be troubled by money worries.
Whilst we recommend that businesses commission formal stress management training in an effort to drive internal cultural stress management changes, where this is not possible, there are many great online resources available.
In this vein, the Training South West team have produced 10 stress-busting tips to help people minimise the stress they might be facing:
It may sound cliché but taking deep breathes really helps. Deep breathing is a fundamental part of activities such as meditation and resilience building for a reason – as you take deep breaths, your body releases calming endorphins. These endorphins, in turn, alleviate stress and anxiety.
The act of refocusing your attention on your breathing is, in itself, a good way of diverting your attention away from the source of your stress.
When you’re stressed, there’s sometimes a tendency to ‘keep going’, in an effort to get things done. However, continuous cycles of stressful activity are shown to make you less productive, less efficient and to cloud your judgment.
Manage your day so that you include regular stress-busting activities. For example, (role allowing) punctuate each 45 minute working period with five minutes ‘time out’ deep breathing, take a short walk, do some stretches, or offer to make a coffee round. It’s not what you do that’s important, it’s the fact that you are breaking your day up into manageable chunks, giving yourself a little headspace, and relieving your body.
It takes a great deal of self-reflection but start to identify the cues in your environment which trigger stress and then try to unpick why it is that they are stressing you out. Reflect upon whether it’s in your power to change any of these cues; if it’s not within your power, then spend time thinking about whether your response is rationale. If you determine it’s not a healthy response, then think about how you might be able to change the way you react. If you feel your response is rationale then consider whether you can get outside support to help you limit the cause.
Unless you spend time unpicking the causes of your stress, then it will be difficult to address and alleviate those things which might otherwise be within your control.
Don’t add to your workload by doing things that you don’t really need to do. If you have the power to delegate – then delegate, and if you don’t have the power to delegate, then consider saying ‘no’. If it’s requested that you add more work to an already hectic workload, then an honest conversation might be in order.
Take a look at your existing workload and identify the high-impact, high-value goals. If any of your tasks don’t fit into this category, then consider culling them, de-prioritizing them for a rainy day, or delegating them.
Limit the stress caused by unnecessary interruptions. Turning off your emails when you’re trying to be productive can go a long way to giving you some headspace. Campaign Monitor suggests that the average office worker receives an average of 121 emails a day. That’s a lot of emails – many of which you will just be cc’d into for information only. Manage your emails in assigned timeslots in your day so that you’re not constantly harassed by them.
It’s often the case that we work with people who behave in a stressful way. When this happens, we have the tendency to absorb their stress like a sponge. It may be uncomfortable but tell this person how they make you (and others) feel and discuss whether they could behave differently. The conversation needn’t be uncomfortable if you approach the subject tactfully and diplomatically.
Addressing Stress through workplace stress training programmes can pay huge dividends. Working environments with a positive approach to stress management, are more productive, have higher staff retention, lower levels of long-term sickness and better performing teams. If you are feeling stressed in the workplace then it’s essential you address it at the earliest opportunity and stop it from spiralling.
Training South West deliver Stress-related training programmes to businesses across the South West of England. Whether you're in Dorset, Somerset, Devon or Cornwall, if your staff would benefit from training to help them manage stress positively, then contact us to discuss how we can help.