By Kayleigh Frost, Head of Clinical Support at Health Assured
With lockdown easing, things are beginning to look much better. But, the added pressure of returning to the workplace may well be causing stress and anxiety in many employees. Luckily, there are lots of ways to reduce stress at work, in yourself and others:
- Get moving: physical exercise can help relieve tension and relax your mind. Engaging in physical activity every day—whether it’s by a brisk walk or an online fitness class at home—will benefit your mind as well as your body.
- Stay connected: for a while now, we’ve all been necessarily distanced from friends and colleagues. This is changing, but it’s essential to make sure you’ve adjusted to the new, distanced methods of communication. Getting the hang of a Zoom meeting is positive, especially if colleagues are likely to remain working remotely. Figuring out these new, strange ways of working is stressful, but it’s completely worth it in the end.
- Be kind to others: supporting and helping others allows us to take a break from our hectic schedules. This can help us gain some perspective and better equip us to handle stressful situations. By carrying out acts of kindness will boost endorphins, resulting in you receiving a ‘helpers high’ – the uplifting feeling you feel after helping someone.
- Self-care: when we feel stressed, the things that bring us happiness often get side-lined. Make sure that you schedule some time for you to relax and partake in your favourite hobbies, for instance, reading a good book, a countryside walk or an online pub quiz with your friends. As a result, if you feel stressed or overwhelmed, you have something to look forward to and help you shift to a more positive mindset.
- Relax your mind: mindfulness practices and breathing techniques can help you stop worrying about the future and allow you to focus on the present. There are a variety of wellbeing apps, online videos and tutorials that can help you deal with difficult emotions and relax your mind.
- Talk to others: by discussing stress and our feelings about it, we open the door for conversations that break the stigma. These conversations will help everyone involved—you could be doing someone a power of good purely by asking how they are.
- Focus on what helps you: it can be helpful to talk about what helps you—your own personal coping mechanisms. These may even help and provide support to those around you. This doesn’t mean share every single little detail—but if you start a conversation with someone about how they and you are both doing, and it flowers into something that helps you both, that’s a very positive thing indeed.
- Be supportive: supportive and compassionate relationships start with ourselves and radiates out towards others. Approach your own feelings and experience with compassion and care. It is natural to experience stress. It is part of being human.
- Learn to say ‘no’: although it can be tempting, saying ‘yes’ to everything can leave you feeling overwhelmed and, ultimately, exhausted. If you do feel that you may have taken on too much, speak with a colleague, manager, partner or friend about what can be set aside or create a plan to tackle the commitments which you currently have. Generally, people like to help and will be there to support you with your workload or tasks. After all, not everything is a priority, and some things can (and will) have to wait.
- Take care of yourself: during stressful times, it can be all too easy to forget to prioritise self-care when it is more important than ever. If you do not have time or cannot schedule in self-care, start with your diet by eating more fruit and veg, drinking more water, and going for a daily walk.
- Give yourself a break: breathing techniques can help support you when worrying about the future and help to focus on the present. And if that doesn’t quite seem like enough, how about a literal, actual break? Many people fail to take the annual leave that’s owed to them, and if they do, they continue to work through it. That’s called presenteeism. And it’s a major cause of stress, anxiety and burnout. Taking time off to relax, and using it properly, is key in creating a stress-free workforce.