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  • Claire Grainger

How to deal with work related stress

If stress is affecting your life, there are things you can try that may help.

  • Recognise the symptoms of stress

  • Identify the causes of stress

  • Look at how to combat stress - in particular Coronavirus related stress & Work-related stress

  • Find out what support is available for you and how you can help yourself

Stress can cause many different symptoms. It might affect how you feel physically or mentally. It's not always easy to recognise when stress is the reason you're feeling or acting differently. The physical symptoms of stress include:

  • Headaches or dizziness​

  • Muscle tension or pain​

  • Stomach problems​

  • Chest pain or a faster heartbeat​

  • Sexual problems​

  • Mental Symptoms of Stress include:

  • Difficulty concentrating​

  • Struggling to make decisions​

  • Feeling overwhelmed​

  • Constantly worrying​

  • Being forgetful

Stress can also affect how you behave. Everyone is different and there are many ways in which your behavior can change. Whether it’s:

  • Being irritable and snappy

  • Sleeping too much or too little

  • Eating too much or too little

  • Avoiding certain places or people

  • Drinking or smoking more

Stress is usually a reaction to mental or emotional pressure. It's often related to feeling like you're losing control over something, but sometimes there's no obvious cause. When you're feeling anxious or scared, your body releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. This can be helpful for some people and stress might help you get things done or feel more motivated. But it might also cause physical symptoms such as a faster heartbeat or sweating. If you're stressed all the time it can become a problem.

If you know what's causing your stress it might be easier to find ways to manage it. Some examples of things that may cause stress include:

  • Coronavirus related stress – you might feel anxiety, loneliness or you might be missing friends & family

  • Work related stress – you might be feeling pressure at work, unemployed or retired

  • Family – there might be relationship difficulties, divorce or you might be caring for someone

  • Financial problems – there might be unexpected bills, or you might be borrowing money

  • Health – could include illness, injury or losing someone

Even significant life events such as buying a house, having a baby or planning a wedding could lead to feelings of stress. You might find it hard to explain to people why you feel this way but talking to someone could help you find a solution.

If you are working from an office or a working environment, you may experience high stress levels in various forms. Some are unavoidable, however there are some things you can do:

  • Get outside for a walk during your break – even if it’s just for a short time, the break will help you re energise

  • Try not to take work home with you

  • Prepare a healthy lunch to take into work with you

  • Limit the amount of caffeine or sugar fuelled drinks and make sure you drink enough water to keep you hydrated

  • Walk or cycle into work if feasible

  • Get involved in any organised lunchtime or evening activity, if you would like to see something set up from Active Workforce in your workplace, just get in touch with the team to discuss

  • Always discuss work related problems with a colleague or manager, don’t keep things bottled up

There has been a huge increase in staff working from home of late, and it takes time to adapt to your new surroundings. Some situations may be out of your control; however, it is important to remember to follow the things you can control:

  • Maintain regular working hours and If you can, try to wake up and go to bed at regular times each day

  • Choose a dedicated workspace

  • Set rules with the people in your space - If you live with other people, it might help to create a household routine, especially if several of you will be at home most of the time. But try to also respect each other's privacy and give each other space.

  • Schedule in breaks

  • Communicate with colleagues (Zoom & Team Microsoft)

  • Make to do lists - If you're working, your plan can include how you’ll spend your free time as well as working hours.

  • Exercise and stretch regularly

  • Eat healthy lunch and snacks

If you are experiencing stress in your personal life, aim to take time out to look after yourself and always share your worries with someone.

  • Do Talk to someone

  • Do Exercise

  • Manage your time

  • Try Breathing techniques

  • Plan ahead

  • Find Peer support

  • Try some Mindfulness - this seminar includes a short 2-minute mindfulness exercise which you can use again at any time

  • Do not try to do everything at once

  • Do not focus on the things you cannot change

  • Try not to tell yourself that you're alone

  • Try not to use alcohol, cigarettes, gambling or drugs to relieve stress

If you are looking to find out what help is available to you, take a look at Mind's website.

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