Dealing with Stress at Work
Why dealing with stress at work is important
If you are suffering from stress your health is at risk and your well-being can be affected. This in itself is a good reason for taking action. The negative effects of your stress can also impact on colleagues. People suffering from stress show negative changes, for example to their behaviour. These negative changes that you experience will have ripple affects, and these can be serious. Other people benefit if you look after yourself.
While your reactions influence your personal stress risk, it also influences the stress risk of those you work with. Being on a short fuse, and being very reactive can be indicative of ‘Type A behaviour’. This increases your risk from stress-related conditions and increases your risk of heart disease. In addition, just one very negative reaction can have a long-lasting and damaging effect on working relationships, especially with those you manage. So managing your reactions is critically important in reducing your own stress and that of your colleagues!
Stress at Work: Online resources
- Stress Prevention
If you can enable increased perception of control, reduce uncertainty and the associated anxiety and insecurity, provide support especially in highly pressurised or stressful situations, tackle sources of pressure in your work area, then you will minimise the risk of stress related illness and increase well-being and performance at work.
- CUSP: A Stress Management Framework for Managers
- Listen to a Podcast explaining the CUSP Stress Management framework here
- Information about the Health & Safety Executive Stress Management Standards
- Relaxation Podcast
It isn’t just about relaxation, but this is something we do encourage. Try this simple relaxation exercise podcast, it only takes 2 minutes and notice if you feel any different afterwards.
Of course there is a limit to the improvement that can be felt after doing something new for 2 minutes but given some practice this really could become a skill you can easily tap into…
- Stress Management Tips
- Stress Policy Whitepaper
A whitepaper about creating your own stress policy
Some basic stress management hints and tips
- Become aware of your own signs and symptoms, and of what causes your stress. We all tend to have one or two particular warning signs. What are your WARNING SIGNS?
- Go through a process of listing all your potential sources of pressure. Divide them into things you have ‘some control’ over and things you have ‘no control’ over. Challenge each item in your ‘no control’ list – do you really have no control over those things? If you change your mind shift that source into the ‘some control’ list. ACCEPT the sources you really cannot control – LET GO. Look now at your ‘some control’ list. Pick a ‘top five’ sources in terms of YOUR STRESS LEVELS. Write these into a simple table then do some Action Planning. What can you do right now to reduce the stress associated with that source, what can you do over the next week, and what can you do over the longer term? Finally, when it comes to implementing your plans don’t be too ambitious and try to do everything all at once. It is better to give yourself the goal of addressing the top one or two and have the feeling of success, than trying to do all of them at once and have the feeling of failure.
- Bear in mind that your perspective can greatly influence stress levels. Take every opportunity to put things in perspective. Think about the feel-good things in your life. Don’t only focus on what causes stress. Give consideration to what provides you with joy, happiness and contentment. Be thankful for those things and when you can, indulge in joy-giving activities.
- Try to have a good work-life balance. Think carefully about what’s really important for you, and make sure you give some priority to important things. It can be very easy to neglect the important things, like ‘people’ things (family and friends), and also neglect our own needs. Never forget that we all need to take responsibility for and care for our own health and well-being. If we don’t care for ourselves, others will also suffer.
- Become aware of, and take control of, your breathing. Remember that either you control your breathing or your breathing controls you. Slow down and deepen your breathing whenever you feel stressed.
- Give yourself and others the benefit of the doubt.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously, and try not to be a perfectionist. Expecting perfection (in yourself, others, and in human systems) will inevitably lead to disappointment.
- We are all social animals. We all need support. So don’t be afraid to ask for support, and don’t be afraid to offer it either. You need a social life. Invest in relationships (including at work), and particularly in friendships. Such investment will pay great dividends!
- Any regular activity that provides good exercise (especially activities like dancing which are also social) is a great mood enhancer and improves your physical well-being too
Suggestions specifically about managing your reactions
- Be very careful about the assumptions you make about others, because your assumptions will influence your reaction, which could then negatively influence their behaviour. This can easily become a vicious circle and a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Beware, and try to prevent, highly emotional reactions, especially those involving anger. Angry, ‘red-mist’ reactions are almost always very damaging (you’ll regret them for a long time!).
- Use your breathing to calm yourself down.
- Listen and observe (ask what’s going on?). This helps you detach yourself somewhat.
- Think before you speak. Give yourself time even if it’s only two or three seconds.
- Don’t take things personally even if you appear to be ‘the target’. Ask yourself what might be the underlying causes of this behaviour.
- Swallow your pride, and apologise. OK, it might not be your fault, but the word ‘sorry’ can help diffuse the situation. This is for your benefit rather than the person you are apologising to.
- If the underlying cause of the conflict has anything to do with you, take responsibility and action.
- Ask what you can do to help. This enables a focus on practical solutions and takes attention away from things which are out of control (focus on negative things which are not within someone’s sphere of control can engender feelings of helplessness or hopelessness)
- Don’t fight fire with fire, it will only make things worse. If you need to, be assertive, never aggressive.
- If the situation is really bad (and you worry that you may not be able to control your emotions), it is often better to temporarily get out of the situation than to blow up.
- Always take into account that you cannot control someone else’s behaviour, but you can control your response to their behaviour.
At In Equilibrium, we provide in-house training specifically to deal with stress at work. We provide training for managers and training for all employees.
Our training can help the line manager see that there are ways to confidently discuss stress related issues and incorporate this into day to day management.
The manager has responsibilities in dealing with stress at work. Training about the manager’s role in relation to stress can clarify what can be a confusing issue.
Stress Management Training for Managers (1-day course)
This course has been specifically developed to meet the needs of organisations that have recognised the crucial role managers and supervisors play in the reduction and prevention of work-related stress. The course is very practical and uses a number of specially developed diagnostic and proactive tools to minimise the effect of stressful situations on both people and the organisation. The course is regularly updated to take account of changes in stress related legislation and recent HSE initiatives.
Managers Managing Wellbeing (1-day course)
This course focuses on how line managers can improve the well-being of the individuals in their teams. A practical framework, looking at work pressures, employee behaviour, management skills and circumstances is used to generate strategies to enhance well-being. This interactive course contains a variety of group and individual exercises, including case studies, scenarios, questionnaires, group discussion, personal reflection, and action planning.
Stress Management Techniques (Half-day course)
The purpose of this course is for the participants to understand the meaning of stress and how to differentiate it from pressure. A toolkit of stress management techniques and exercises is provided for them to use in the work environment and in their own time. The principle of the course is that because stress is subjective people need a variety of strategies to observe and understand in order to enable them to select those that will work best for them.
Practical Approaches to Handling Pressure (1-day course)
This course is suitable for managers and employees at all levels in the organisation who want to increase their understanding of how different levels of pressure affect health and performance. It also looks at how to develop strategies to cope with stress related issues. The topics covered include personal well-being, the work-life balance and individual factors such as perception, which affect how we cope with excessive pressure.
Work-Life Balance and Health (1-day course)
The Work-Life Balance and Health course focuses on what worklife balance is and why it is important in any workplace. Healthy individuals who feel they have their priorities right are more productive, creative and resilient, valuable qualities in today’s challenging and competitive environment. Course participants are reminded of the things they can do to improve the quality of their day to day lives both at work and outside of work.
Mindfulness Training (1-day course)
The mindfulness course introduces participants to the practice of mindfulness, provide teaching in the core mindfulness practices and support the cultivation of a more mindful approach to life and work. Past delegates have noticed improvements in their ability to manage stress and stressful situations, think creatively and find new solutions as well as a positive impact on their productivity and efficiency, energy and enthusiasm for life.
Personal Well-being Training (1-day course)
An empowering training course which combines traditional medical science with state of the art positive psychology techniques. The result is a powerful blend of information on health and motivation which individuals at all levels of the organisation can use to enhance their personal well-being and performance. Participants will learn how to identify factors conducive to personal well-being including optimism, meaningful activities, diet and social relationships. A key aspect of the course is the understanding of how positive and negative emotions affect us and how participants can use this knowledge to reduce the risk of stress both for themselves and those they work with.
We are also able to provide customised training in any aspect of stress management. Please contact us to discuss your needs or to talk to us about speaking to other past clients about their experience of working with In Equilibrium.