Seven key ways to avoid office stress
Sometimes there can be no escaping office stress. Even a dream job can throw up tough days and challenge your capacity to cope.
With stress accounting for 35 per cent of work-related ill health in 2014/15, learning to cope with office stress is more important than ever.
Firstly, it’s important to recognise the symptoms, these can include:
- Loss of interest in work, hobbies and social activities.
- Trouble concentrating.
- Tiredness and trouble sleeping.
- Headaches, muscle tension, aches and pains.
- Stomach pains and digestive complaints.
- Feeling anxious, irritable or depressed.
The good news is that if you do find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, you needn’t suffer in silence. Here are seven key ways to avoiding office stress.
It can be easy to neglect self-care in the busy, modern world, but taking care of yourself can do wonders for your wellbeing. When we’re stressed and trying to hit crazy deadlines, it can be easy to fall back on caffeine, junk food and late nights. However, making a conscious effort to get a good night’s sleep, eat wholesome meals and cut down on coffee can make you healthier in both body and mind. When you’re feeling energised, you may find it much easier to cope with what the working day throws at you.
Breathing exercises aren’t a new phenomenon, but it’s hard to deny how effective they can be in making us feel more grounded. During a period of intense stress, it may be helpful to find a quiet spot and take five minutes to calm your mind. One of the most effective, as recommended by the NHS, is to begin breathing in, deeply but gently, through your nose, filling up your belly before breathing out through your mouth. It can help to count from one to five as you breathe in and out.
Unwinding during a stressful working day and when you leave the office can be incredibly important. Heading out for a run or to a yoga class at lunch is a great way to fit exercise into your day, as well as an outlet for tension. But unwinding isn’t all about burning off negativity. It can be just as much about spending time with your loved ones, indulging in a hobby or booking yourself in for a spa treatment.
Office stress can stem from a disordered mind: being tasked with too many jobs while at the same time, emails are flying in and the phone keeps ringing. Sometimes, eliminating interruptions so you can focus on the task at hand is the best remedy. You could try something as simple as closing down your emails for an hour, or working in a break-out space for a morning.
When you’re working to the wire, it can be tempting to stay chained to your desk for as much of the day as possible. On the contrary, this could only serve to make you feel even more stressed and exhausted. Taking breaks is an important part of the working day, whether they be your lunch break or a tea break. Time away from your desk gives you time to breathe, and besides, you’re entitled to a lunch break!
‘Prevention is better than cure’ is a mantra we commonly associate with seasonal illnesses, but it can be just as true when it comes to office stress. In this case, ‘prevention’ is preparation and planning: things like preparing lunches the night before work to open up more time in the morning, and making a to-do list before you leave the office helps get your working day in order. Once your mind is organised and you have a plan to stick to, it can be easier to filter out distractions.
One of the most important things to remember about stress is that everybody feels it; being stressed doesn’t make you weak or bad at your job. It can be easy to internalise how you’re feeling around the office, but opening up to somebody you trust could lift a huge weight off your shoulders. Having a support network can mean the difference between being able to cope and sacrificing your mental health.
And find out more about Benenden Business Healthcare, which includes a comprehensive 24/7 psychological wellbeing service to provide employees and their families with treatment for a range of mental health issues including stress, anxiety and depression. Support ranges from telephone counselling to face-to-face therapy sessions
This article was first published on 25th April 2016.
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