Posted on: 28 October 2019

How you can manage stress

Research from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that almost 20% of workers in the UK have said that they have experienced very high or extremely high stress levels at their workplace.

People deal with stress in different ways, but being exposed to high levels of stress regularly is detrimental for both your physical and mental wellbeing. Take a look at some of our tips below on how to recognise the signs of stress and how you can treat stress accordingly.

Why do we experience stress at work?

Heavy workloads

In a piece of research from The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), they found that there was a 37% rise in stress related absences in the last 12 months, with many of these being attributed to heavy workloads.

Whilst your work is important, it is also important to look after your health, so find ways that you can spread your workload into manageable chunks so that you can continue to work effectively but not at the cost of your health.   

Performance pressures

Many of us will have targets to meet in our working lives, and sometimes, no matter how hard you work, you may not always meet these targets, or if you’re self-employed, you may have targets that you set yourself that you might not be meeting.

Have a look at the SMART model of setting targets below.

S – Specific. This means that your target should be clearly outlined and understandable for anyone involved in helping you achieve this target.

M – Measurable. You should be able to measure the goals that you have been set so that you can see how long you have to complete your target, and how successful you have been upon completion.

A – Agreed. Targets should be agreed by all parties included in the undertaking of the project.

R – Realistic – You should never be set up to fail. Setting a realistic target will help keep up motivation but should be challenging enough to help development.

T – Time based. There needs to be a good balance between getting the targets finished on time, but allowing enough time for the target to be completed.

Long work hours

Particularly a problem for the self-employed. If you run your own business, you know that you work when the work is available, which can lead to long working hours, and in turn, lead to stress.

Similar to dealing with heavy workloads, make sure that you have enough time to finish the tasks that you have, even delegating tasks if need be. Try not to bite off more than you can chew for the sake of an additional income, as this could be detrimental to your health in the long run.

Travelling

Travelling for work can be stressful. If you are travelling by train, you need to make sure you leave enough time to catch your train and always have a contingency plan in case of delays or cancellations. Travelling by car also comes with problems for instance you may have to deal with difficult driving conditions leading to extra time travelling. All of this can take you away from your family and friends.

Being away from your home comforts can lead to feeling isolated, which of course can be damaging to your mental health. If you are relying on public transport for travel, you may experience high levels of stress because you aren’t in control of your travel, especially if you experience delays that cause you to run late.

Office politics

Again, because of a lack of control, some people may start experiencing symptoms of stress when having to deal with office politics. Onrec found that a third of office workers dread coming into work because of office politics and the way that it makes them feel.

Avoid problems with office politics by keeping on the right side of your colleagues, make friends and document the work that you do.

Conflicts

Workplace conflict is also a cause of workplace stress. Personnel Today have produced a case study on the correlation between workplace conflict and stress.

Whilst the case study states that some conflicts can have a positive effect on workplace culture because of the differences in opinions that make a company diverse, conflicts can also arise from a lack of courtesy or behaviour that could be seen as disrespectful.

There needs to be a work culture that celebrates a range of opinions, but does so in a respectful way, as similarly to office politics, people at your business can start to feel unhappy in their job, leading to stress.

What are the warning signs?

Recognising the red flags of a problem is the first step in preventing stress developing into a serious mental illness. Take a look at these symptoms so that you can see if you are starting to experience signs of stress.

Insomnia

Insomnia is where you have difficulty with your sleep, whether this is falling asleep, staying asleep or other sleep related symptoms.

Anxiety or depression

Serious workplace stress can lead to anxiety or depression. Anxiety is a general feeling of unease, worry or fear that can result in panic attacks and general withdrawal. Low mood or depression can cause feelings of sadness, worry, tiredness, low self-esteem or anger.

Bad temper or low morale

If you notice that you have become more irritable or are unmotivated, it may be that you are experiencing signs of stress.

Stomach or back aches

Stress has also been known to cause stomach aches because of how it slows down digestion, and can lead to stomach pain and further stomach complications. If you notice butterflies in your stomach or that sinking sensation, this could be a sign of stress. Stress also creates tension in your neck and back muscles, which can cause back problems if not treated.

What to do if you have the symptoms

Everyone will experience stress at some point in their lives, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be a permanent part of life. Follow these tips to help you manage stress better.

Make a plan and set priorities

By not making a plan and setting out what your priorities are, you increase the chances that you will make a serious mistake or have you rushing to complete a task which could cause you more stress.

Take the time to think what your priorities are and make sure that you give yourself enough time to complete these projects.

Keep things under control

Something that we outlined earlier is that it can be very stressful when you aren’t in control, or lose control, of your workload.

Having control is all about being prepared, so, as above, make sure that you have a plan that you can stick to, or have priorities in case your plans have to change. Break down your larger tasks into more bite-size pieces. This will help you keep more control over your projects.

Take time

In running your own business, it can be easy to get caught up in the fast paced work environment. However, it is this fast pace that may cause you stress and to burn out. It can also be easy to make mistakes when working at a fast pace, so slow down and make sure that your work is of the best quality.

Take breaks, get away or delegate tasks, anything to make sure that you have a bit of down time for a bit of mental health recovery. Use some time to meet with friends or industry peers who may be able to help you out with a new perspective on your work.

Find a new approach

If your usual working methods are making you stressed, why not explore different ways of working. If your work allows why not try working from home so that you can minus the travel time and work in the comfort of your own home.

Use resources

There is no shame in admitting you can’t handle a task. However, if you still need to work on and complete your project, see if you can delegate or quickly learn a new skill so that you can still perform to the best of your ability.

Charity partnership with Mind

Earlier this year, Premierline’s parent company, Allianz, announced a three year partnership deal with mental health charity, Mind. Allianz set the target of raising £1m for the charity for the three years. This was also the target set by Allianz in the last charity partnership with Association of Air Ambulances, which was successful in passing the £1m milestone.

The partnership signifies Allianz, and Premierline’s, dedication to supporting positive mental health, both in the work place and in our personal lives. Since the charity partnership started in February, Premierline has already raised almost £3,000, with many more charity events to come this year.

Business insurance with Premierline

Finding the perfect business insurance cover that fully protects your business can be difficult if you don’t know what you need. Premierline is a business insurance broker who will assess your business’ needs to find insurance covers that give you the protection that you need.

Get in touch to speak to one of our insurance professionals who will work with some of the UK’s most well-known insurance providers to compare insurance quotes.

Source: Zywave Inc – Playing it safe: Managing workplace stress

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