How to prevent work- related stress
You could say that it’s normal to feel a little pressure at work from time to time. In fact, some people would argue that the urgency to get things done has quite a motivating effect on them. The majority of us will experience some form of work-related stress during our careers, but when does it get to a point where it becomes unhealthy? Can work-related stress become intolerable, or even debilitating?
Did you know that 1 in 6 people working in the UK suffers from depression, anxiety or problems relating to stress? In fact, depression is the single most common cause of workplace absenteeism in the UK. Further to this, statistics from the Labour Force Survey 2014/2015*, have revealed that 40% of people in the UK described their stress levels at work to be so high that it was making them physically or mentally ill. As a result of this, many people struggle to maintain a happy and healthy work/life balance.
It’s no secret that companies have an overall better performance when their staff are motivated and happy in their job. Good employers will support their employees who experience stressful situations at work and will look to offer assistance. The support people receive from their employers is vital in shaping how well they are able to cope with any pressure at work.
A recent study by office suppliers, Viking, has revealed that 1 in 3 people have no one to talk to about work related stress. Furthermore, 46% of people have negative thoughts about their job at least several times a week and 42% feel like they’re under an unpleasant amount of pressure to succeed. Studies, such as this one, highlight just how important communication and relationships at work are, as well as beckoning the need for more vigilance and better understanding from employers to their staff.
Whilst various factors that could affect employees’ stress levels may be completely out of your control, there are a few things you can suggest to help them (which are also useful to govern your own well-being, too):
- Get enough sleep – people often underestimate the impact that sleep can have on our mental and physical health, which is why it’s recommended that an adult should try to get at least 7–9 hours of shut-eye a night. This enables our brain to maintain its functionality and allows our bodies to recover and heal overnight. Going long periods of time without adequate sleep or proper rest puts you at risk of becoming clinically exhausted, which has been linked with poor health issues, high-stress levels, and feelings of depression.
- Meditate – it’s been scientifically proven to help improve creativity levels, reduce stress, and strengthen your ability to concentrate. Ultimately, this can lead to better concentration and overall performance at work. Meditation, which has a prehistoric origin, is promoted by countless influential people, such as the Dalai Lama, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, and Paul McCartney, for its powerful effect.
- Try a breathing technique – a good method, to begin with, is the ‘4–7–8 relaxing breath’. What’s great about this is you can do it wherever you are and it can provide instant relief from any tension or anxiety you may be feeling. Inhale steadily through your nose with your mouth closed, whilst counting to four in your head. Hold your breath for seven seconds, then, exhale through your mouth to a count of eight and allow your stomach muscles to relax. Repeat the cycle at least four times.
- Listen to relaxing music – this affects the psychobiological stress system in our brains, which can help to reduce symptoms of tension and worry. Music has a uniquely emotional link with our feelings, which means that listening to certain genres, or even songs, can have a temporary impact on how we feel. Classical compositions, in particular, have beneficial effects on physiological functions, such as slowing down the heart rate and lowering blood pressure.
- Workout – you’ll be surprised at how much this can affect your mental well-being. Exercising regularly is a well-known tactic for boosting our immune systems and improving mood. In fact, exercise is a recommended treatment for mild to moderate stress or depression. This is because endorphins are released in the brain when a person endures physical activity, these act as sedatives, as well as analgesics, which help to diminish the perception of pain.