Unmanageable stress – the epidemic that continues to sweep the UK’s workforce

2018 saw the UK rank 5th worst in the world for unmanageable stress, behind United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Korea. 

Furthermore, one in five of the UKs workforces say that they frequently experience ‘unmanageable stress’ whilst 53 per cent of millennials prioritise an employer with a workplace health and wellbeing programme.

5th – 9th November is National Stress Awareness Week in the UK.  As a study from Glassdoor reveals that the average UK employee knowingly loses 6.5 days of annual leave through fear of being out of the office, healthcare and education recruitment specialists Athona present their top five tips on how to manage stress in the workplace and achieve that all important work-life balance.

Keep a stress journal

Let National Stress Awareness Week be the start of your journal.  Being able to identify which situations at work are making you stressed is one of the easiest ways to begin to manage it. Keep a journal and identify what has happened that has made you feel stressed and how you responded to these situations. Note down your feelings, thoughts and any information about the situation, including who else was involved, the physical setting and the circumstances. Keep track of your own reaction as well; did you get angry and raise your voice? Retreat from the situation and go for a walk? Head to the canteen for a quick snack? By keeping a journal of what makes you stressed in the workplace, and how you dealt with it, can help you to identify patterns. Once you know exactly what your individual stress triggers are, you will be able to work to avoid or manage them more effectively.

Set boundaries

Our digital world makes it possible to be available for work 24/7, and it is easy to feel pressured into logging on to work at the weekend, evenings or even on holiday. In order to establish a healthy work-life balance, you will need to set yourself boundaries. This could be a rule to not answer the phone during dinner or when out with friends, or not allowing yourself to check emails on the weekend. Everyone will have different opinions when it comes to blending work and home life but setting clear boundaries will prevent work-life conflict and the stresses that come with it.

It is also wise to remember that there are no boundaries around colleagues and managers.  Joanne Waggerman, Talent & Development Manager at Athona says, ‘it’s important to remember stress is not a sign of not being able to do a good job and therefore something to be hidden. If you’re feeling stressed speak with a line manager or colleague, it may be that you just need someone to help you to refocus, re-prioritise and feel in control again. Letting others know is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.”

Create end of day habits

Develop some habits for the end of each working day. This could be tidying your workspace and putting everything away or writing a list of what you are going to get done tomorrow. Creating a set habit that you complete at the end of every working day can help you to switch off from work and prevent you from feeling the need to carry on working once you are home in the evening.

Recharge and disconnect

In the UK, we work the longest hours in Europe, which means we often don’t get much time to switch off and replenish our stress levels. In order to avoid stress and burnout, it is important to take the time to recharge, recover and return to your pre-stress level of functioning. Occasionally you need to disconnect from all work-related activities and not think about work at all. This isn’t always easy but try to use some of your holiday days to take time off to relax and unwind. If you can’t take full days off, set aside a couple of evenings a week to focus on yourself.

Seek out support

Trying to deal with all your stress alone often makes things worse; accept help from friends, family and colleagues in order to relieve some of your stress. If you are feeling really overwhelmed in the workplace, speak to your supervisor for support. As employee health has a big impact on productivity at work your boss has their own incentive to help create a work environment that promotes employee well-being. There may also be stress management resources available from an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). This could include counselling, mental health support and various resources designed to help manage stress in the workplace.

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