Managing workplace stress
As we head into the end of the year people get tired and need a holiday. Stress levels can also start to rise with some people even heading towards, or already experiencing, burn out. How do we manage our stress during the festive season or at any other time of the year?
Tips for dealing with stress
When we get stressed, it can have a huge impact on our mental and physical wellbeing - so how do we help mitigate our tension, look after ourselves and tackle work related stress?
Work life balance – are you having difficulty setting boundaries between work and your personal life? Since COVID-19 many of us now work at home so it is easy for the separation between work and home to become a bit blurred. To prevent burnout and stress you need to set clear boundaries between home and the office. Decide on times where you will stop answering emails after hours, such as the evenings after a certain time and weekends. Put your working hours on your email signature (especially if you work part-time) so people know when you are unavailable. Only take calls if outside of office hours if you think they may be urgent.
Take time out – having regular breaks during your working day can help prevent burnout and reduce your stress levels. If you find yourself getting wound up, take a pause, walk away from your desk and go and get a hot drink or a glass of water. If possible, go for a walk at lunchtime – even if it is just around your building.
Look after yourself – taking care of your physical and mental wellbeing at all times is essential – even more so to deal with the effects of work-related stress. Ensure you book out time to exercise or take part in activities you enjoy such as sport or socialising with friends. Yoga or meditation are also great ways to wind down. You need to make sure you eat well and don’t use alcohol to help deal with any stress.
Seek help – we always feel better when talk to someone about what is going on rather than bottling things up internally. Talking to a trusted friend in the office may help or speak with friends or family. Many organisations have access to EAP (Employee Assistance Programmes) which provide access to confidential counselling if you need more professional advice. If things have really elevated with your stress and anxiety symptoms chat to your GP. They can refer you to mental health support if needed and/or provide treatment to help deal with the physical symptoms of stress.
Take annual leave – make sure you take regular holidays throughout the year – especially if you are going through a difficult time. Some employers in New Zealand and Australia even often ‘mental health days’ in addition to annual leave. Some people may use the excuse that they are too busy to take a holiday, but the reality is that everyone needs one and you will perform much better if you do.
Understand your stressors – to help you deal with stress you need to understand what the triggers are that are causing it. Issues such as long working hours, unreasonable deadlines or a lack of workplace support need to be addressed with your manager or HR. If you don’t believe that these can or are being addressed, then you may need to consider moving to another employer.