Experiencing some stress at work is fairly common and in most cases perfectly normal. However, it can quickly become too much and pose some serious risks. In the UK, one in four adults experience mental health issues every year, including anxiety or depression.
Dealing with stress early on is essential and there are some simple ways you can ensure your mental well-being at work. We’ve put together 10 simple top-tips on how to deal with workplace stress.
Why managing stress is important for businesses
Before we get into the ways to deal with stress, it is important to understand why it can be harmful for businesses as well as people.
Stress affects human beings in an extremely negative way. It doesn’t just affect your mental wellbeing – it can also bring physical health issues. These include lowered immune system, heart diseases, high blood pressure, digestive issues and even fertility problems.
Stress also undoubtedly affects the way we work – it decreases our productivity levels and motivation. According to research, 12.8 million working days are lost every year due to stress. So, not only can stress be extremely harmful to people but it also can damage businesses.
How to recognise stress
The negative effects of stress are not always obvious and people often go months or even years not realising what is causing them to feel the way they do. There are certain symptoms of mental health issues that you could look out for in yourself or your employees. Some of these include:
- Increased heartbeat rate
- Mood swings and being irritable
- Moments of confusion and difficulty concentrating
- Unnecessary fear and worry
- Changes in appetite or sleeping patterns
- Easily forgetting things
- Upset stomach
- Headaches or dizziness
- Painful or tense muscles
10 Ways to manage stress at work
Here are our 10 top-tips to help you reduce workplace stress.
1. Talk about it
It may be difficult or uncomfortable to talk about your mental wellbeing, however, remember that a problem shared is a problem halved. This is especially true in this case and it can help you immensely. Whenever you feel stressed, talk about it with your friends and family or even colleagues at work.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know, there are always other places to get help. You can contact helplines like Samaritans to have a chat anonymously.
2. Start your day right
The way you start your mornings before getting to work is much more important than you may think. Many people tend to start work already stressed and continue feeling that way throughout the day. This is especially common for those working from home during the Coronavirus pandemic – since you don’t have to commute to work, it may feel like your work starts from the moment you wake up.
That shouldn’t be the case, however. Having a nice morning routine before work is extremely beneficial. Even if you are currently working from home, you should try to wake up at your usual times and have a “virtual commute” routine before you open your laptop. It may be a good idea to adapt new habits that make you feel good and happy – this could be a morning run, 30 minutes of an inspiring podcast or as simple as cooking yourself a healthy breakfast.
Creating a to-do list every morning can also be helpful to many people – it allows you to break your day into tasks and the times you will be doing them. This can help you concentrate on just one thing rather than worry about all the little things you need to do at once..
You should also try not to think about work until you actually start working, unless it’s absolutely urgent. It is essential to separate your professional and personal life, as worrying about work-related matters before or after your work hours only increases your stress levels.
3. One step at the time
Most people tend to get stressed when they are facing a big chunk of work – it feels impossible to do and the finish line is nowhere to be seen. If you have a large project or just many different tasks at once, it can be helpful to break these down into smaller, more manageable tasks. This way you will add a bit of structure to your work and you will know exactly where to start.
4. Ask for help if you need to
There is no prize out there for people who do everything on their own. Asking for help when you need it is crucial and you should never be afraid of that. Getting help doesn’t make you less smart or capable, as no one expects you to be good at everything.
If you find yourself struggling with something and you could benefit from any advice or support, don’t hesitate to seek it. Many business owners get financial and business advice from professional accountants in order to reassure themselves and make better-informed business decisions.
5. Take regular breaks
If you feel like you are getting a bit overwhelmed with your work, make sure you take regular breaks. These don’t have to be long – you can just go for a 3 minute walk or simply get some fresh air. You can also try meditating at your table for a few minutes to calm yourself down. Simply close your eyes and breath in and out deeply, trying not to think of work.
A short break from work will help you relax, decrease your stress and get back to it more concentrated.
6. Work smarter, not harder
Working smarter means prioritising your work and concentrating only on the tasks that will make a real difference. Many business owners tend to put too much pressure on themselves and take on too many different tasks (with most being completely out of their specialisation).
You should always try to find ways to automate certain businesses processes and decrease your workload. You could also outsource certain business tasks, such as accountancy or payroll, and leave it to the professionals. This will take lots of pressure off your shoulders and allow you to focus on what you do best.
7. Stay active
Exercise is extremely important for mental wellbeing as it gets your endorphins flowing and boosts your mood. So if you feel stressed, get your body moving! You may struggle to find motivation at first but, once you get started, you will feel a hundred times better. It’s also a little achievement that you can be proud of everyday.
You don’t have to go hardcore with gym memberships or expensive equipment. Just do whatever you feel comfortable with – this could be yoga or other body weight exercises that you can do from home. Alternatively, you could also go for a morning run to kick start your day.. The options are endless so you will easily find the type of exercise that suits you.
8. Avoid unhealthy habits
A lot of people tend to rely on alcohol, smoking or caffeine to cope with daily stress. However, while these can make you feel better short-time, they are never the long-term answer. Becoming addicted to unhealthy habits will not only be harmful to you but also make your stress levels worse.
So, while a glass of wine is not harmful once in a while, it shouldn’t become the main way to deal with your stress. On the contrary, leading a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and a balanced nutrition can do wonders for your mental health.
9. Connect to other people
People that are already suffering from anxiety or depression tend to distance themselves from other people. However, social interactions are beneficial for our mental wellbeing. Although you might not feel like talking to anyone because you’re stressed and tired, staying in touch with other people can help relieve stress.
Connecting with people is also important when working from home due to Coronavirus. Those coffee break catch ups with your colleagues or the small talk with a stranger on the bus were a lot more important than you may have realised. As you don’t have those at the moment, try to find other ways to maintain your social connections..
Regularly calling your family or friends is a good start. Also, try to say yes to any invites to socialising and networking opportunities. Having a social circle and connecting with people can boost your mood and help you forget about stressful situations at work.
10. Stay positive
Easier said than done, right? However, there are easy ways in which you could try and be positive even on the worst days.
If you are feeling stressed about work, just try and remember all the positives in your life and all the things to be grateful for. We sometimes forget to appreciate what we already have and get too distracted with the negatives. At the end of the day, the important things in life are what really matters.
If you struggle with this, try writing down three of the things that went well and that you are grateful for at the end of every day. This will help you realise that things aren’t always that bad and appreciate the positives a bit more.
Mental health is also a part of health and you need to look after it just as much as you would look after a bad back or an achy tooth. While stress is normal in most cases it can also quickly become extremely harmful and cause other health problems. So, don’t let it negatively affect you by dealing with it early on and safeguarding your mental wellbeing.