For the last few weeks we’ve been talking about how to spot the signs of stress, as well as offering a number of top tips for how to manage stress. However, to date we’ve only been talking about stress in general terms – what happens when you are suffering from work-based, or occupational stress? Having a massage or going for a jog may not be the sole answer to all your problems.
The reality is that most of us are likely to experience some form of stress, often as a result of work, at some point during our careers. It may be an ongoing situation, or it may be as a result of a specific event. The key thing is being able to recognise it, and knowing how to best handle it as and when it occurs.
Stress can be caused for a variety of reasons, but here we look at some of the most common situations.
Feeling like you are not able to manage your workload can be a very stressful situation to find yourself in. Again, the reasons for this occurring can vary – perhaps other members of staff are off (either through illness or holiday) and you are having to juggle your own workload as well as someone else’s. Perhaps there has been an increase in work as a result of seasonal changes (many businesses will have peak periods where everyone has more on their plate), or it may be that staff have left, or there is a current freeze on recruitment.
Whatever the reason, it is important to recognise how you feel and speak to your supervisor or manager about the situation. Everyone needs help from time to time, and there is no shame in asking for it – no matter what the reason is. Speaking out about your concerns can help ensure that positive plans are put in place to support you through this particularly busy or difficult patch, which will ultimately benefit both you, your colleagues and the business as a whole.
Whilst it may be tempting to put in some extra hours, either coming in early, working through your lunch break, staying late or taking work home with you, it is vital to remember that you do need to rest. Concentrating solely on getting the job done is going to have a longer-term detrimental effect on your mental and physical health. Do not simply decide to work extra hours – speak to your supervisor and discuss ways in which you can be compensated for this. Perhaps you can come in early and work whilst the phones/emails are quiet, but leave work early so you are not doing more in terms of hours each day.
Poor work-life balance
When you feel there is a lot to be done it can be tempting to simply work harder, and for longer. However, this leads to a situation where you have no real opportunity to unwind and are simply living to work. For short periods of time, and for specific situations, this may not be such a big deal; however, when it becomes a standard part of your working life problems are likely to occur.
Make sure you are taking regular breaks throughout the day. Do not be tempted to sit and eat your lunch at your desk – instead, get up, go for a walk outside, get some fresh air. You are legally allowed to take breaks for a reason. The same applies for holidays – make sure you are taking your full entitlement. Consider making the most of such leave allowance by booking some long weekends to give you extra time to recharge.
It is also worth considering starting an end of day routine to help you decompress from work, and mark the end of the working day. It may be as simple as cleaning and organising your desk, in preparation for the next day. Alternatively, writing a to do list to ensure that you are not going home with a head full of the things that you still need to achieve.
Your employers have a duty of care to you and your colleagues, but if you do not speak to them about how you are feeling it is near impossible for them to support you in any meaningful way. It is therefore vital that you approach them when you are feeling that situations at work are getting out of hand, and causing you any form of concern, stress or upset.
If once you have raised issues, you still feel that you are not being supported then it is important that you raise this as a separate issue. Speak to your HR department or manager, or your Trade Union Rep if you have one.
Developing good relationships with your colleagues can also be a fantastic way to ensure that you feel more supported within the workplace. Knowing that other people may be feeling the strain, and finding out how they manage their time or the issues is a great way to help you feel more in control. Equally, good relationships with others can ensure that you feel more able to reach out and ask for help when things do feel they are piling up on you.
Remember, if you are an employer and you have concerns over how best to address your staff’s physical and emotional health needs, speak to us today.
We are People Matters, because YOUR people matter.