National Stress Awareness Day - Dealing with work related stress...

Work related stress affects up to 20% of the working population. It is one of the biggest causes of sickness and results in over 100 million lost days per year. That’s a big headache for employers and, potentially, a very serious health issue for the sufferer.  

Whilst some pressure at work can be a motivational factor, too much can lead to stress and even illness. It may be the result of too large a workload, striving to reach ever higher targets, lack of support from colleagues and managers or even workplace bullying. 
Whatever the reason, it’s important you recognise the signs and take the necessary action to put things right. The following is a list of symptoms which, whilst not exhaustive, are commonly associated with work related stress:  
  • palpitations 
  • headaches 
  • random aches and pains
  • loss of appetite 
  • difficulty sleeping 
  • difficulty concentrating 
  • short temper or feeling highly emotional 
  • loss of libido
If you recognise any of the signs of stress, try to deal with it before it affects other areas of your life. Learning how to manage your workplace stress is important for maintaining your general health.  

Don’t be a doormat!
Try to identify the root cause. Speak to your manager or someone you feel comfortable talking to. If that’s not possible, seek help from outside your organisation. Employers have a duty to safeguard the health and safety of their employees under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and should therefore take your concerns very seriously.  
Don’t be a doormat. If you are being asked or expected to do more than is realistically possible, learn to say ‘no’. If you take on too much then cannot deliver, you may end up in a worse place than you would have been had you just said no, with good reasons why, at the outset.  

Keep a diary
Being bullied? Then confront the bully directly. Tell him or her that their behaviour is unacceptable and could constitute harassment. Remain calm but give specific examples of the problem. Try to respond immediately to incidents - they may not even be aware of the impact of their actions and you pointing it out may be enough to stop it.  
Keep a diary of any incidents and details of witnesses in case you need to take it further, and be sure to establish what the company policy is for reporting such issues. Most importantly, don’t bury your head in the sand - deal with it quickly before things get out of hand.  

Face workplace stress head on!
If you are feeling stressed, take some action to combat it. Why not try getting active? Exercise will help reduce stress hormones, make you feel physically stronger and improve your general sense of wellbeing. This, in turn, will boost your confidence in being able to tackle your stressors.  
Avoid alcohol and smoking as ways of coping. They will only increase long-term health problems whilst failing to address the root cause of the problem. Instead, set yourself some new challenges outside of work to help build overall confidence. Remember to be kind to yourself and ensure you have some ‘me-time’ doing things you enjoy. Furthermore, why not try some simple meditation? It can prove amazingly beneficial for your mind and body.  

Face workplace stress head on - accept what you can’t change and...
Be positive about the things you can!

Dr Hilary Jones