March 15th, 2016
We are all aware of the need to make changes to our lives in order to be healthier. We know we need to lose weight, take more exercise and stop smoking but what about reducing the stress in our lives? Stress management is particularly important if you feel stressed at work because this can make you ill. In the period 2011/12 the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) reported that 428,000 people felt work related stress was making them ill. That is 40% of all work related illnesses and is probably an underestimate as many people either don’t recognise it or don’t report it. Stress management is a vital tool in dealing with the stress of work. we need to be able to recognise stress and put a plan in place to help manage the stress in our lives.
Stress is defined as the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures and demands placed on them. The main reasons for people feeling stressed at work are work pressure, lack of support from managers and work related violence and bullying.
If you are not sure whether you are suffering from stress the usual symptoms are pounding heart, dry mouth, odd aches and pains and loss of appetite for food and sex. If you have these symptoms you need to pinpoint the cause.
One of the main ways to relieve stress at work is to learn to say “no” when you know you haven’t got time to do whatever is being asked of you. Outline your reasons in a specific measurable way, but always offer a solution.
Physical activity can get you in the right state of mind to identify the cause of your stress and find a solution. There is a solution for every problem but if you remain passive, thinking there is nothing you can do, your stress will get worse. The feling of loss of control is one of the main causes of stress so taking control is a crucial part of finding a solution that satisfies you and not someone else.
You need to look at ways to manage your time, like making a to-do list at the end of each day and listing what you have to do in order of importance.
A good support network can also ease your work troubles and helps you see things in a different way. The activities we do with friends give us a chance to relax and having a laugh with them is an excellent stress reliever.
Try to ensure that you do not work more hours than you are contracted for. The UK workforce works the longest hours in Europs and so they don’t spend enough time doing things hey really enjoy. Aim to set aside a couple of nights a week for some quality ‘me time.’
By setting yourself challenges, in work or outside, you can help build your confidence as you are being proactive and taking charge of your life, which in turn will help you deal with stress.
It’s important that you don’t rely on alcohol, smoking and caffeine as your ways of coping. Over the long term they will not solve your problem. Men are more likely to do this than women as they are less likely to seek support from their social circle. Giving up any dependencies you have could be one of the challenges you set yourself.
Volunteering has been shown to help relieve stress as it makes you feel good to help others and also shows you that many others have worse problems than you do. Even just doing somebody a favour each day can be enough to make you feel better.
In all aspects of your life work smarter rather than harder. Become more organised. Time management helps stress management. For example, when you go shopping run 2-3 errands at the same time, keep telephone conversations short and to the point, only look at emails once a day, etc. Concentrate on the tasks that will make a real difference and leave the least important jobs till last, or when you are tired.
Look for the positives in life and things for which you are grateful. Write down 3 things at the end of each day which went well for you. By making a conscious effort each day you can train yourself to be positive about life.
Accept things that you can’t change and concentrate on everything you do have control over. For example, if your company is going under and you are going to be made redundant there is nothing you can do about it so concentrate on getting a new job.
Learn to relax. Use deep breathing exercises and take up Yoga or Tai-Chi. You could also talk to your employers as they have a duty of care to their staff and must run stress risk assessments on a regular basis.