Did you know that over 11 million days are lost at work a year in the UK, because of stress at work?
Did you know that employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it?
Work-related stress and how to tackle it:
What is stress?
HSE (The UK’s Health and Safety executive Government based dept.) defines stress as…..
‘the adverse reaction people have…. to excessive pressures or other types of demands….. placed upon them’.
Stress affects people differently – what stresses out one person may not affect another. And vice a versa.
Stressful situations may arise from events or at times when we are feeling low or feeling bad about ourselves, or our energy is low.
Other factors that impact on stress are our skills and experiences, what is going on in our lives at present, our age, health or disability may all affect whether we can cope. These can all affect our resilience to cope.
What are the 6 main areas that can affect stress levels at work?
The Demands on us, our time and our abilities. Are we able to manage these demands? Are they realistic?
The Control that we have – do we have it? or do we feel out of control?
The Support that we have – do we have good enough support around us?
The Relationships we have – within the workplace, what type of relationships are there in our work life? Do we trust others? Who can we trust to speak with? Do we take time to make meaningful relationships?
Our Role at work – what is our role? do we understand our role? do others understand our role?
Change – how is change managed? Do we have any fear factors of change? Are changes communicated to us?
Stress is not an illness…… but it can make you ill.
Recognising the signs of stress will help employers (and ourselves) to take steps to stop, lower and manage stress in our workplace.
What are the signs of stress?
For starters: If employees start acting differently, it can be a sign they are stressed.
Managers should look out for signs of stress in teams and employees.
Think about whether stress could be linked to work pressures.
For managers to consider…..there may be signs of stress in a team such as:
- Arguments… backbiting, bullying behaviours, anger, disconnect within relationships.
- Higher staff turnover…people leaving for no reason, staff turnover turning over quicker.
- More reports of stress…staff saying they feel stressed in their supervision or in conversations.
- More sickness absence…have you noticed that your sickness records in the team have increased? This indicates something is happening. Something needs to be recognised and addressed.
- Decreased performance… People seem sluggish at work, consistently not meeting deadlines.
- More complaints and grievances… others coming to you and saying that staff members are acting differently and not reacting to work in the usual way. Their performance at work is being challenged.
Us as Individuals……A change in the way someone acts can be a sign of stress, for example, they may:
- take more time off
- arrive for work later
- be more twitchy or nervous
A change in the way someone thinks or feels… can also be a sign of stress, for example:
- mood swings, up and down in easy to see emotional reactions.
- being withdrawn from others and the team.
- loss of motivation, commitment and confidence.
- increased emotional reactions – being more tearful, sensitive or aggressive
Employees can also help look after their own stress levels at work – if we think we have a problem talk we must talk to someone, for example to our manager, a colleague or our GP.
I have had many stressful periods working in health and social care. Busy workloads, managing large teams, budgets, expectations, deadlines, presentations all add to a stressful job.
Most of the time we cope, we progress and deal with it and take on more reasonability as we move forward in our careers.
Sometimes because life gets in the way, our stress takes over and becomes an issue. Maybe we aren’t sleeping as well, or looking after ourselves as we should be.
Recently I had a stressful 2 month period at work.
It became an issue as I got nearer to a deadline, where I was affecting and changing a whole system. I had done everything well, I felt.
I had consulted about the changes, I had communicated them and involved people and designed what I thought was a great product.
I believed in it but as the go-live date became nearer… I started to panic.
This panic became a spiralling stress tornado.
I couldn’t sleep; having bad dreams when I did, I experienced anxiety, panic attacks and memory blanks. I was not able to switch off, relax and often took all weekend just to recover from the week.
I was getting that dreaded Sunday afternoon feeling before I had to go back to work on Monday morning. My brain kept switching off, shutting down. I had a foggy mind. I felt Nervous.
I realised I was driving to work and not remembering how I got there.
Conclusion…Then I realised I had a problem.
What did I do? I spoke to a few trusted colleagues, they understood and put things into perspective, I also spoke to a great manager who was able to put support around me to then feel secure in the work I was doing and I felt people had my back.
This reduced my stress and helped me start to realise the stress I was putting myself under. I was able to heal.
However I was almost ready to go to my GP about it, but I felt that course of action might lead to being signed off, I didn’t want this, but at times this might be the only answer.. if you don’t get a solution at work.
But the one thing we need to realise is…things need to change, both within ourselves and within our work.
Talking to others is the answer, communication and seeking support.
Many workplaces have employee support programmes that are confidential and free.
They can help.
Don’t suffer, recognise the symptoms.
Get help and be kind to yourself.
If you want to read more of my musings and articles have a look here on my blog on the Axe your 9 to 5 website.
Or if you want to see what education I am getting that is changing my life around and getting out of the 9 to 5 by building my own online business, there are 7 free videos that will blow your mind.
They will show you that there are alternatives out there that any person can achieve if they want to. Act here for the videos.
So, what do you do to keep your stress under control? Have you got some great hints and hacks for this type of thing?
Leave a comment below and let us know.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Take back control.