How to tackle your workplace stress
Workplace stress continues to be one of the biggest problems facing employees across the UK. A previous Priory survey revealed that over half of those surveyed found it hard to relax after a day at work.
Uncertainty about the future, regular interruptions and an increasingly high workload are just some examples of what can cause significant stress at work and lead physical symptoms such as headaches, low energy, chest pains, tense muscles and an upset stomach.
If you are struggling to manage your stress levels, we have listed ways you can reduce the impact work is having on your mental health.
Be pro-active rather than reactive
If you regularly find yourself managing several tasks at once during your workday, you may feel overwhelmed and as though the situation is beyond your control.
Your stress hormones will become activated, which will stop you from concentrating, affect your self-confidence and prevent you from carrying out your role effectively.
Break down projects into more manageable tasks each day to help you prioritise what you can realistically get done and what you can’t.
Maintaining control over your workload and not getting too distracted by aspects of the project outside of your control can help reduce an unhealthy build-up of stress.
Keep interruptions to a minimum
You may be thinking ‘that is easier said than done’, particularly with the number of distractions you face daily. From responding to an e-mail checking up on your progress with a deadline, or answering a phone call to discuss a new piece of work, it can be difficult not to get distracted from completing your intended workload.
But there are ways to alter how you respond to interruptions. While it is impossible to control when people contact you, responding to requests at designated times during the day, closing your office door when you need to concentrate, and arranging face-to-face meetings as opposed to having lengthy e-mail discussions can all help save time and reduce stress.
Schedule your day for productivity
Many people working today confuse time spent completing tasks with the ability to get through the required workload. Focusing on achieving goals and completing tasks to the required standard – and not expecting it to be perfect - can help relieve a lot of unnecessary stress.
Instead, spend 10-15 minutes each morning to plan out what you intend to work through before you start, you will find that you complete tasks more efficiently, and won’t feel the need to work long hours.
If you regularly find yourself having to work overtime, your body’s stress levels will likely rise, leaving you with little energy or motivation for spending time with family or doing activities you enjoy when you get home. You may need to discuss how to have more manageable work hours with your employer.
Diet and sleep
You may not think about eating well and getting plenty of sleep when you are feeling stressed at work. Making time to eat small but frequent healthy meals that are low in sugar content and high in protein will give you the energy levels and nutrition to help you remain focused throughout the day.
Equally, if you are struggling to get to sleep and are dwelling on events that have happened in work during the day, then you will feel increasingly tired and restless the following day, thereby reducing your productivity and raising your stress levels.
Deborah Myhill (MSc, MBACP, UKCP) Therapy Services Manager at Priory Hospital Woking says "Make sure your bedroom is free from stimulating distractions and disengage from digital devices (including television) for an hour before you go to bed.
"If you are troubled by work-related thoughts or other problems, try writing them down as a list prior to going to bed and then make a conscious choice to leave them there, and instead focus on your breathing and more pleasant thoughts just before you go to sleep. Learning Mindfulness skills can help greatly in this regard."
Getting professional support
If you are having trouble with stress at work and it hasn’t been resolved through your organisation or by talking to family members, then Priory’s nationwide network of sites can provide support on a day or inpatient basis as part of a tailored treatment package that suits your individual needs.
Whether you are still at work or are looking to return, an initial assessment with an experienced consultant or therapist, after which you will have the option of both group and individual based treatment programmes at times suitable to you.