Stress has become a byword for modern life but it doesn't mean that life should be plagued by feelings of instability and uncertainty.
We know that stress can affect physical well-being as well as work and home life. Combating and recognising the factors causing stress at work can help to reduce the risk of more significant mental health issues in the future, as well as give a greater day to say satisfaction.
What is stress?
Stress isn't a big word: we need not be shy to discuss it.
Although there's no definitive medical definition for stress, experts1 have divided it into two categories.
The first defines stress being caused from situations and events that put pressure on us, such as moving house or starting a new job.
The second defines stress as our reaction to pressure and being put in the spotlight with demands placed upon us. This could be a deadline that we have to meet or an intimidating appointment that we have to attend.
Stress can be the cause of the problem, but equally the problem can cause stress so it's very easy to be sucked into a vicious circle. Although stress isn't classed as a mental health problem, it can be caused due to mental health issues and can lead to more severe mental health problems such as anxiety or depression.
What can you do to combat stress?
- Identify what's making you stressed.
Either too much change or too little change in your life can cause stress. Are you stressing over paying bills, moving house, exams, work load, not having a partner or family life? Try and pinpoint the causes of your stress and you'll find combating it more feasible.
- Organise your time.
Identify what time of day you perform best at and try to schedule all of your challenging tasks for that time of day. Make a manageable and coherent list of what you need to do each day. Vary your activities and do not be afraid to try something new! Don't spread yourself too thinly and don't be afraid to say no! Remember to take regular breaks and don't be afraid to come back to something later on.
- Be assertive.
Don't be afraid to talk to those who are overburdening you with work and tell them it's too much. Communication is key to making sure that you don't suffer.
- Your tea round, how much caffeine are you consuming?
Caffeine is a proven stimulant and can exacerbate feelings of stress and hinder sleep patterns, so if you like coffee then calculate how much caffeine you are taking in each day and substitute it with fruit juice or waters.
It's easy to forget the importance of exercise when stressed or over-worked. Even during the work day, you should be making time for yourself, and trying to incorporate exercise when you can. Why not have a walking one to one? Or take ten minutes to walk around the block? It's easy to fall into the 'I have too much work to have a break' trap, research proves that employees who take regular breaks perform better than those who don't.
Although work is an important aspect of everyone's lives, try to find a healthy work life balance. Reducing stress levels in the office enables employees to perform well.
For more information on reducing stress and managing mental well-being download the work-related stress and mental health extract from The CIPD/Simplyhealth Health & Well-being at Work Report April 2019