Eight sim­ple steps to tackle work­place stress

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - CLASSIFIED -

While a bit of pres­sure is part and par­cel of work life, and can even be a good mo­ti­va­tor for achiev­ing goals, living with the con­stant strain of an ex­ces­sive work­load, un­re­al­is­tic dead­lines and high ex­pec­ta­tions can be ex­tremely detri­men­tal to your men­tal and phys­i­cal wellbeing.

More than 12.5 mil­lion UK work­ing days are lost each year to work-re­lated stress, de­pres­sion or anx­i­ety, so it’s a real problem – and im­por­tant that ev­ery­body, em­ploy­ees and em­ployer alike, ac­knowl­edges it and takes nec­es­sary steps to help man­age it.

Know­ing where to start, how­ever, can be dif­fi­cult, es­pe­cially when you’re al­ready over­whelmed, but small changes can make a big dif­fer­ence. Here, Liz Walker, HR direc­tor at Unum, out­lines eight sim­ple steps to help your work-re­lated wellbeing year-round.

1. Be ‘SMART’

“If you’re feel­ing a lit­tle down at work, set your­self some goals to boost mo­ti­va­tion. They need to be re­al­is­tic to achieve,” says Walker. She sug­gests us­ing the ‘SMART’ acro­nym, which stands for: Spe­cific, Mea­sur­able, At­tain­able, Re­al­is­tic, and Time-spe­cific. So rather than just vaguely vow­ing to be bet­ter at manag­ing your time, set out a named task, that’s not im­pos­si­ble to com­plete, with a re­al­is­tic dead­line.

2. Take time out

Sav­ing all your hol­i­day up for a long getaway might be a nice thought, but it’s prob­a­bly not ben­e­fit­ing you in the long-run. Walker sug­gests that by giv­ing your­self more three-day week­ends through­out the year, par­tic­u­larly af­ter a more stress­ful pe­riod at work, you are less at risk of wear­ing your­self too thin. Tak­ing time away from your desk is an im­por­tant step to­wards stay­ing present and en­gaged with those around you, whether that’s pick­ing up the kids from school or com­plet­ing a DIY project you’ve been putting off for months.

3. Max­imise your work perks

“Lots of peo­ple use the ear­lier months as a chance to do a lit­tle ‘spring cleaning’, which should also in­clude re­view­ing your cur­rent work of­fer­ings,” Walker says. By fully as­sess­ing what ben­e­fits are on of­fer from your em­ployer, you can en­sure you’re get­ting the most out of your job. Make use of dis­count vouch­ers for week­end trips and evening meals, take some classes at the work gym or sign your­self up for a train­ing course to learn a new skill.

4. Let there be light

There’s a lot to be said for the power of light and the pos­i­tive im­pact it can have on our work­ing day. “Nat­u­ral light helps sta­bilise sero­tonin and trig­gers en­dor­phins, both mood­boost­ing hor­mones, leav­ing you calmer and hap­pier,” says Walker. Re­sist the temp­ta­tion to snack at your desk by us­ing your lunch break to get out of the of­fice, even if it’s just for a short walk around the block, to re­fresh and re­lax.

5. Ask about em­ployee recognition schemes

“Ask your em­ployer if they might con­sider in­tro­duc­ing an em­ployee recognition scheme to high­light great work done by your teams,” sug­gests Walker. “Whether the recognition is made pub­licly or pri­vately, it will boost morale and cre­ate a more pos­i­tive work en­vi­ron­ment”. Feel­ing val­ued can be ex­tremely re­ward­ing, and even help al­le­vi­ate a cer­tain amount of stress.

6. Know your lim­its

One of the main causes of work-re­lated stress is an ex­ces­sive work­load. “If you feel over­whelmed at a par­tic­u­larly busy or stress­ful time at work or in your per­sonal life, talk­ing to your line man­ager or HR about how you are feel­ing will give them a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of your ca­pac­ity,” says Walker.

7. Talk about it

While open­ing up a dis­cus­sion on men­tal health isn’t al­ways easy, speaking to a trusted col­league may put you at ease. Work-re­lated stress, de­pres­sion or anx­i­ety ac­counts for 40% of work-re­lated ill-health, ac­cord­ing to HSE, so it’s likely that another close col­league has been feel­ing the same way. If you’re ner­vous about ini­ti­at­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with your boss, try send­ing an email voic­ing your feel­ings and ask them to get back to you af­ter read­ing it.

8. Take con­trol of your fi­nances

Walker high­lights that fi­nan­cial health is vi­tal to feel­ing happy and healthy at work. Bud­get­ing doesn’t have to be boring either; mon­i­tor your fi­nances us­ing mo­bile bud­get­ing apps or take ad­van­tage of the num­ber of fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance schemes that may be on of­fer to you in your work­place.

Work-re­lated stress, de­pres­sion or anx­i­ety ac­counts for 40% of work-re­lated ill-health, ac­cord­ing to HSE. Pic­ture: Getty Images/ is­tockphoto.

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