According to HSE (Health and Safety Executive) from 2014/2015, 440,000 people in the UK reported work-related stress at a level they believed was making them ill. That’s 40% of all work-related illness assigned to too much stress at work. While some workplace stress is normal, too much stress at work can interfere with your productivity and performance — and impact your physical and emotional health. Often, your ability to deal with stress can mean the difference between success and failure at work. You can’t control everything in your work environment, but that doesn’t mean you’re powerless — even when you’re stuck in a difficult situation. Whatever your work demands or ambitions, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from the damaging effects of too much stress at work and improve your job satisfaction.
Track your stressors
Keep a journal for a week or two to identify which situations create too much stress at work and how you respond to them. Record your thoughts, feelings and information about the environment, including the people and circumstances involved, the physical setting and how you reacted. Did you raise your voice? Get a snack from the vending machine? Go for a walk? Taking notes can help you find patterns among your stressors and your reactions to them.
Speak to colleagues
Social contact is nature’s antidote to stress. Simply sharing your thoughts and feelings with another work colleague can help reduce stress. Talking over a problem with someone who is both supportive and empathetic can be a great way to let off steam and help you become calm and focused.
Are you an employer? Read our Guide to Employee Relations in SME.
Prioritise and Organise
Create a balanced schedule. All work and no play is a recipe for burnout. Try to find a balance between work and family life, social activities and solitary pursuits, daily responsibilities and downtime. Prioritize tasks. Tackle high-priority tasks first. If you have something particularly unpleasant to do, get it over with early. The rest of your day will be more pleasant as a result.
Learn how to relax
Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises and mindfulness can help make too much stress at work a thing of the past. Start by taking a few minutes each day to focus on a simple activity like breathing, walking or enjoying a meal. The skill of being able to focus purposefully on a single activity without distraction will get stronger with practice and you’ll find that you can apply it to many different aspects of your life.
Stress, in the right context, can be a strong driver for productive working. Focusing on these simple steps may be the key to your ability to cope with and utilise stress in the workplace.
If we can help your organisation deal with too much stress at work or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610.