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How to deal with work-related stress

According to the Health & Safety Executive 2013/14, in the UK 40% of workforce reported work-related stress. 1 in 5 visits to GPs are related to stress.

Everyone who has ever held a job has, at some point, felt the pressure of work-related stress. Any job can have stressful elements, even if you love what you do. In the short-term, you may experience pressure to meet a deadline or to fulfill a challenging obligation. But when work stress becomes chronic, it can be overwhelming — and harmful to both physical and emotional health.

Common Sources of Work Stress

What causes this stress, I hear you ask? From research, heavy demand, lack of control over work, low level of support from colleagues and management, bullying and harassment, constant change, are the culprits. You know you are stressed when you start worrying about work at home, dread going to work, lose sleep, and become increasingly short tempered.

Certain factors tend to go hand-in-hand with work-related stress. Some common workplace stressors are:

  • Low salaries.
  • Excessive workloads.
  • Few opportunities for growth or advancement.
  • Work that isn’t engaging or challenging.
  • Lack of social support.
  • Not having enough control over job-related decisions.
  • Conflicting demands or unclear performance expectations.

Tips To Manage Stress

Here are some recognised Stress Busters to help you combat the strains of work-related stress:

  • Recognise signs early
  • Don’t bring work home
  • Learn to say no.
  • Always take breaks.
  • A few minutes of exercise every day goes a long way.
  • Speak to your supervisor; employers have a duty of care.
  • Create a network of support: family, friends & colleagues
  • Get involved in activities you enjoy outside work, ex: hobbies, voluntary work, learning new skills, something positive to cherish.
  • Avoid smoking/drinking excessively to cope. Alcohol worsens low mood.
  • Use time management strategies to work efficiently.
  • Accept things you cannot change, like a full ‘in tray’, irrespective of how hard you work.
  • Learn Relaxation Techniques. Meditation & Yoga can help.
  • Contact your occupational health department, they may be able to access professional counseling for you.
  • Attack the root cause. Ask questions like: Do I like my job? Could I be better somewhere else?

If all above fails then seek professional mental health advice. Depression and anxiety disorders can come in the guise of stress. These are treatable disorders, requiring assessment, treatment and support.

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