Article provided by Lucie Ironman, Psychological Wellbeing Facilitator, Vita Health Group
Not only is this increased stress impacting our mental health, but it is also impacting our physical health too. So much so, in fact, that stress has been linked to heart disease, immune system issues, insomnia and even digestive problems. All of which are not only physically debilitating but can have a serious implications on workplace productivity too.
That being said, stress is actually completely normal and not always a bad thing. More than likely, you will have heard of the flight or fight response, this is actually stress.
Fight or flight is how the body protect itself and gets ready for harmful situation. When we feel threatened, a chemical reaction occurs in our body that allows us to act in a way to prevent injury. Many physiological changes happen during a stress response, your heart rate increases, breathing rate quickens, muscles tighten, and blood pressure rises. This is your body’s natural way of getting ready to protect itself and prepare you to either fight or escape the threat.
But remember, not all stress is bad. Stress could be the one thing that saves you, for instance, allowing you to slam the brakes on a car to avoid a fatal collision. We can cope well the small bursts of stress however long-term stress can have a negative impact on our health and well-being.
One of the best ways to control stress is to recognise the signs and symptoms. But detecting the symptoms may be more challenging than most of us think. Many of us are so used to being stressed in our daily lives we often don’t realise how stressed we are until reach a breaking point. And, of course, by this stage it’s often too late.
When it comes to our workplaces, stress is said to be one of the biggest problems employees admit to suffering from. The main causes of stress are usually due to workload, lack of job security or personal problems. Mental health in the workplace has an impact on the quality of work delivered, the number of sick days employees take and the general working atmosphere.
And corporate health is not just a buzzword. Its implementation is integral and necessary for mental health in the workplace. As such, it’s important to ensure your colleagues or team are working in a stress-free environment and have access to resources that can help alleviate stress.
Encouraging your team or colleagues to exercise and eat healthily are two of the best stressbusters around.
If we do spot the signs of stress in our colleagues, it’s important that we don’t ignore them.
1. Help them to spot the signs. It’s always easier to spot signs of stress in other people than it is for them to see it themselves. If you’ve noticed changes in someone’s behaviour that suggests they’re feeling stressed, don’t let them bury their head in the sand over it. Try to reach out to them.
2. Listen. Often just knowing that somebody is there to listen can make a huge difference. You don’t always need to offer advice to your friend or loved one, just take the time to listen to them and remind them that you care.
3. Offer reassurance. Try to remind your friend or loved one that this feeling won’t last forever. Reassure them that there are people they can talk to, and you are there for them no matter what.
4. Offer practical support. If there’s a specific issue that’s causing someone to feel stressed such as money worries, job loss or relationship problems, you may be able to help them find practical solutions that make the situation easier.
Remember no one should suffer alone. We have included some support services below that you could share with your colleague if you are worried about them.