According to reports, more than 15 million days are lost every year because of employees suffering from work-related stress. On top of that, over 500,000 workers in the UK feel unwell due to stress levels at work.
The Cartridge People commissioned a study, the “Workplace Stress Study 2019”, to find out what issues were causing such high levels of stress amongst employed and self-employed workers.
Key findings of the study included:
Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational health expert at the University of Lancaster, says: “In life, there’s always a solution to a problem. Not taking control of the situation and doing nothing will only make your problems worse.”
So, what can you do to relieve stress within the workplace? Here are five top stress-busting tips to help you beat workplace stress.
1. Get active – taking exercise isn’t going to make your stress go away but it will reduce any high levels of emotion you may be feeling. Exercise helps to clear your mind and allows you to think more calmly about your situation, how to deal with it and improves your mental health and wellbeing. It might be a walk in the park or going shopping at lunchtime, going for a run before work, or going to the gym.
2. Take control – workloads are the biggest causes of stress. Take control of your workload by breaking it down into smaller, manageable tasks. Establish a timeline for each task and set a SMART (Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely) target. If you are struggling, ask for help from your manager and work at resolving any issues. Yes, there may be times when you will need to work overtime but avoid making it a habit. Oh and reward yourself for your achievements!
3. Have a break – in the UK, we work the longest hours and that means increased stress levels. Scientists at the University College London found that people who drank black tea four times a day had reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their bodies, and they could destress twice as quickly as those who didn’t have a cuppa. Taking a break gives you breathing space, give yourself time to take your mind away from your workload for 5 minutes, improving your mental health and wellbeing, and lowering your stress levels.
4. Stay positive – negative thinking is a slippery slope downwards when you are under stress; even the smallest of problems can appear to be huge, increasing anxiety levels. Aim to think as a ‘glass half full’ person, says Professor Cary Cooper. At the end of the day, write down all the positive and enjoyable aspects of your day and focus on those.
5. Work smarter – learning how to prioritise your workload will alleviate one of the biggest causes of stress in the workplace. Focus on the more complicated and important tasks earlier in the day – the less important and easier tasks can be left until later. Don’t try and empty your inbox in one day, that’s almost impossible. With the advent of technology, we’re receiving ten times the level of information on our desks than in the past. Graham Allcott, author of How to Be a Productivity Ninja and founder of the training company, Think Productive, says you don’t have to work longer to be a star employee, you just need to be clever at managing your workload.
Why not try a self-improvement app to help you deal with stress at work. Stress relief apps will help you to stay positive, focused, organised, and productive. A simple lifestyle adjustment or change of thinking can be the difference between a healthy work life and the road to a stressful life.
In the UK, every April is Stress Awareness Month. We all need support to help us deal with stress at times.