Stress can have a huge impact on your health and wellbeing, which can affect your mindset, productivity and performance at work. Over 10 years ago whilst studying for my postgraduate diploma we started to study stress and its impact in the workplace.
But what I found over the years was many unsympathetic managers and leaders who could not understand the reasons why a team member would be stressed and would compare their own ability to handle stress against the team member. It was also labelled as "the new bad back" due to the scepticism of those who had previously reported back pain. The fundamental issue with this is everyone has a different ability to handle stress. You cannot compare what one person finds stressful to another and stress should not be seen as a weakness.
In order to combat stress, I believe HR teams, managers and leaders should be offering a safe space for people to talk about how they feel and to put the appropriate support in place but in the first instance I believe it is down to individuals to be responsible for recognising stress levels and taking the first steps to deal with it before it gets out of control. So here I want to share with you some strategies to help you do that.
1. Identify what is really causing you to feel stressed
Stress is an outcome so it is important to find what is the root cause. Take some time to sit down and ask yourself, what is really causing this? It can be a whole range of factors that are unique to you - could it be an unmanageable workload, is it down to unrealistic deadlines? do you feel out of your depth, is it down to difficult relationships, is it down to poor systems and processes? This is just a few ideas but it is really helpful to get super clear on the root causes as you then have some clarity on what you need to tackle to combat the cause of your stress.
2. Take time out
With the continued blurred line between work and life and the increase of technology, never before has an employee been contactable 24/7. You may feel like you don't have time to switch off and you must be online at all hours but you need to be the one to set some boundaries. So perhaps decide the time that you will switch off from technology, to do lists, etc and allow your mind and body to rest. Some ways that I have found work really well for me is writing it out, getting out in nature or getting lost in a good fiction book.
3. Seek support
I work with a number of people who don't feel like they can speak to their employers about how they are feeling, so if you work in a company that you don't feel safe or supported to have that conversation, find someone who you can speak to. You may need to review the way that you do things, prioritising workload, being able to say no, build up your resilience, cultivating a work/life balance. Trying to do this on your own when already feeling stressed can be difficult so working with an external person allows them to help you look at this objectively as they do not have any vested interest for the company.
4. Take action
Once you have identified what is causing you to feel stressed, then it is important that you take steps to tackle the issue whatever it may be. It is highly unlikely that these issues will be solved without some level of action from yourself. You may need to review the way that you do things, prioritising workload, being able to say no
5. Be kind to yourself
How you handle stress has nothing to do with you as a person. So check in with yourself and notice how you are being with yourself. Are you talking negatively about yourself, in your mind and out loud? If you catch yourself doing it, stop yourself and ask how useful is this right now? If you met someone else who was stressed you would support them and speak nicely to them, so do the same to yourself.
Stress left over a prolonged period of time can have significant effects on both mental and physical health, so the key thing to do is recognising the signs and start to take those steps to help you combat this.
If you want any help around this subject then you may like to explore working with me on a 1:1 basis. If so, then click here to book a non salesy, no obligation discovery call with me and see whether we could be the right fit to work together.