Managing Stress In The Workplace

25.10.2021

Have you been struggling with stress in the workplace? While it might still seem like a taboo topic to talk about, you’re really not alone in feeling like this. According to the 2019/20 Labour Force Survey, 17.9 million working days are lost every year due to work-related stress, depression and anxiety. The same study shows that 828,000 workers suffer from work-related stress, depression or anxiety. 

There are many reasons you might be struggling with stress at work. It might be the environment you work in, an especially busy time at work, or it might be a mix of work and personal issues. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what causes stress at work because it depends on the individual. While some people thrive in the office, others find the commute and constant social interaction stifling. Equally, while some love working from home and enjoy the lack of commute and ability to dictate their own day, others find it very isolating. 

Sometimes, a stressful period at work is just that, a period of time that will pass. Other times though, the stress can become long-term and begin to take over your life. While you might think this is something you need to just ‘power through’, medical advice says otherwise. 

Untreated workplace stress can lead to burnout. Burnout can lead to depression and physical symptoms such as exhaustion. That’s why it’s so important to learn to recognise the signs of stress at work so you can get help as soon as possible. 

Signs of Stress In the Workplace

Before you can seek help for job stress, you need to be able to recognise the signs. Because workplace stress can take over our lives, it’s easy for it to become our new baseline. This can stop us from realising how much it’s truly impacting our lives. 

Work-related stress symptoms can include: 

  • Do you struggle with mood swings? 
  • Are you finding it hard to motivate yourself at work?
  • Do you find you’ve lost confidence in yourself? Especially in areas this previously wasn’t an issue?
  • Are you quicker to emotional responses than usual? This could mean you find yourself feeling increasingly sensitive to comments, or quicker to heightened responses like anger or crying. 
  • Have you felt the need to take more sick days than in previous years?
  • Do you find you’re twitchy or nervous but not sure why? 

These can all be signs that you’re dealing with stress at work. Stress in the workplace can be caused by a number of things. You might be dealing with stress outside of work and your office life is just exacerbating this. You could be struggling with an especially busy period and not getting enough support and resources. It can also be a lot of small incidents over a large period. 

You don’t need to feel like there hasn’t been a big enough event for you to be struggling. The important thing is to recognise the signs so you can take positive steps to get your mental health back on track. 

Strategies to deal with stress in the workplace

Depending on how long you’ve been dealing with workplace stress, you might find that some small changes can make a big difference. 

Split up big tasks into smaller tasks 

One of the most common symptoms of stress at work is feeling overwhelmed. Often, if we can take ten minutes to break our tasks down into smaller chunks, they can feel much more manageable. Make sure you congratulate yourself after completing each sub-task. Before you know it, you’ll have ticked off big, overwhelming tasks. 

Plan Ahead

When we’re wrapped up in stress, and especially when we’ve lost motivation, we can become more reactive. This means we deal with tasks as they become a problem, rather than proactively taking tasks on. This can lead us to feel more overwhelmed. 

Planning ahead allows us to give ourselves a structure we can work through. This gives us a sense of control and a solid plan of action when we feel helpless or unsure what to do next. If you find when planning ahead, there’s simply more work than time, this can be a good tool to speak to your manager or boss. 

If you’ve been dealing with stress for a long time, professional workplace stress support might be more beneficial. 

Be More Active

It’s not just changes within the workplace that can help improve your stress levels. Fitting more physical activity into your day can help burn off nervous energy. It can also help release endorphins which trigger a positive feeling, helping improve your mood. 

Learn More About Stress

Sometimes, understanding the problem you’re dealing with can go a long way. Learning more about stress can help you better identify it and take steps to overcome it.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is about being present in the moment. Stress can often lead us to worry about potential outcomes and problems, long before they even happen. This can cause us to miss out on the moment and make our work suffer due to procrastination, which just gives us more to stress about! 

How You Can Support Your Employees Dealing With Stress and Burnout

The first step is knowing how to identify which members of your team may be struggling with workplace stress. Some common symptoms include:

  • Are they suddenly working longer hours? If you’ve noticed an employee is suddenly staying late a lot, or coming in much earlier than usual, they may be struggling with their workload. 
  • Has their mood changed dramatically? Look out for changes in behaviour. Like if a chatty team member now rarely engages in conversation, or a quiet, friendly team member is now very irritable. These can be signs something isn’t right and they need additional support. 
  • Has there been a noticeable change in the time they take off? This can be presented as a sudden increase in sick days and annual leave, or if they have stopped taking annual leave. Both can point to difficulties at work. They may be trying to avoid the workplace or feel too overwhelmed by their work and feel they can’t take time away. 
  • A change in their work quality. If a very detail-orientated employee suddenly keeps making mistakes, they may be struggling to focus. You might also find decisive employees struggle with decisions and seem to doubt themselves a lot. 

If employees struggling with workplace support don’t get the right support, it can have a huge impact on your business. It can lead to less productivity, more absences at work, a difficult work environment, and higher staff turnover. 

Employer support can go a long way in helping an employee overcome stress in the workplace. That’s why we offer comprehensive corporate health and wellbeing support for employers. This can cover everything from GP visits to mental health support. 

If you think you’d benefit from professional support for workplace stress, get in touch. We offer support in both Canary Wharf & Orpington at convenient times to suit you. 

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