It’s normal to feel a little pressure at work. A certain amount is healthy and helps us to be more productive.
But when the pressure becomes too much, you may begin to feel overwhelmed and stressed. This is when it becomes a problem.
This is despite changes in working patterns such as hybrid working. Although remote working was previously seen as a silver bullet by many, it’s not a solution that works for all employees. Employees can feel stressed by a variety of factors.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. By understanding stress and learning how to manage your body’s response, you can learn to deal with it more effectively.
Stress can affect anyone, in any workplace and at any time. And if it isn’t dealt with, it can have catastrophic effects on health, wellbeing and business productivity.
The heath risks of workplace stress
Stress is the human reaction to being overwhelmed or under threat. It’s an important natural reflex and is part of what’s called the ‘fight or flight’ response.
A small amount helps make us more efficient and can make us feel more energised.
But when we suffer repeated stress over an extended period of time, it affects our health.
- A lowered immune system – you might find you’re always fighting colds or infections
- Heart disease – experts believe stress is as damaging to the heart as smoking
- Poor mental health – repeated stress can lead to anxiety and depression
- High blood pressure – increasing your risk of stroke and heart attacks
- Digestive issues – stress affects our digestion causing indigestion and worsening IBS and stomach ulcers
- Fertility problems – stress can disrupt the menstrual cycle and reduce sperm quality and count
Symptoms of workplace stress
It might not be obvious that you’re suffering with the symptoms of stress. But it readily presents itself with a range of symptoms which can include:
- A racing heart
- Indigestion, bloating, diarrhoea or constipation
- Headaches or dizziness
- Tense or painful muscles
- Back and shoulder pain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Finding it difficult to make decisions
- Forgetting things
- Worrying and overthinking
- Change in appetite
- Turning to coping behaviours such as drinking, smoking or binge-eating
Stress has a powerful impact on our bodies, which is why it’s so important for us to recognise it and try to reduce those feelings.
10 ways to reduce workplace stress
There are a variety of steps you can take to manage workplace stress. Here are 10 changes you can start putting into action today.
- Talk About It: They say that a problem shared is a problem halved, and it’s true. Talking about the way we feel can have a powerful impact on our stress levels. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, it’s time to talk about it.
- Take Regular Breaks: Research has found that taking regular breaks from your work actually makes you more productive than if you power through your day. Sitting at your desk all day can be counterproductive and damaging to your health.
- Create a List: If you’ve got lots of ‘to-dos’ in your head, an easy way to take the pressure off is to write everything down. This helps you reflect on the work you have to do and start to prioritise things more effectively.
- Need Help? Ask for It: You’re only human and can only do so much. So, it’s important to identify when you’ve got too much on your plate and begin to feel stressed.
- Break it Down: A big project can easily seem daunting, and it’s easy to let it stress you out. Take some time to break your projects down into small, bitesize tasks. This will help you to approach at the work in a different way and see it as doable, rather than challenging.
- Get Moving: It’s a known fact that exercise gets endorphins flowing, helps boost your mood and looks after your mental health.
- Pay Attention to Your Diet: The food we eat has an enormous impact on our mental and physical health. In fact, there is an increasing body of evidence demonstrating the link between gut health and mental health. Reducing processed food and upping your fruit and veg intake helps improve your gut microbiome, which in turn can support your brain health.
- Schedule Some Downtime: Make sure you plan in some ‘me-time’ to practice some self-care. The human body can only take on so much, which is why taking some time to rest and re-charge is essential for managing stress.
- Automate: Eliminating manual admin-tasks can do wonders for your stress levels. Why should you spend more time than you need to on tedious tasks?
- Maintain a Work Life Balance: Establishing the line between your work and personal life is crucial for minimising stress and preventing burnout. And you’ll actually find you’re more productive if you stick to your contracted hours.
Workplace stress is incredibly common which is why you should nip it in the bud before it gets serious.
The good news is that by following these steps and working with your line manager, you’ll take control of workplace stress and start minimising it.
The result? You’ll feel more relaxed, happier and more productive at work.