Today marks National Stress Awareness Day here in the UK. Established by the International Stress Management Association (ISMA), the event provides individuals and businesses with information on stress awareness and strategies on how to minimise the risk of stress in the workplace.
In 2014/15, 9.9 million days were lost due to stress-related ill health. Increased working hours and heavy workloads leave people vulnerable to mental health problems such as stress and depression as well as greatly impacting personal relationships.
It's important to look out for the signs of mental health in our friends, family and colleagues. Although these issues may be unfamiliar to talk about, by recognising these signs early on we can do something to help.
Take the mood test below to find out if you could be struggling with work-related stress.
ISMA’s 10 key steps to stress free living
ISMA has produced 10 key steps to help employees reduce their levels of stress in the workplace.
- Start to put yourself first - If you eat and drink healthily, schedule regular physical activity that you enjoy and manage your time effectively and you’ll be in a better position to help others.
- Start to prioritise tasks - There are only so many things we can do well during each day, so choose your top 3 most urgent tasks each morning and make them your priority. Reschedule, renegotiate your commitments or delegate – you can make it happen!
- Start to make time to relax and mentally unwind - Relaxation, breathing and meditation exercises have been proven to be effective in reducing stress and anxiety; they are ideal ways to switch off AND they boost your immune system. Just a few minutes a day will pay huge dividends.
- Start to empathise with others - There are many different behaviour styles that affect how we communicate with each other. Be aware that different people can perceive your words and actions in a way you didn’t always intend. Take time to listen to others and look for solutions.
- Start to live life to the full - Bring some fun into your life and spend a few minutes each day appreciating the good things you have in your life. This will help you to see opportunities for growth and learning, even from the most challenging situations.
- Stop ignoring your needs - Know what is expected of you and what is reasonable. Take short breaks throughout the day and know when and how to say ‘No’ both at work and home.
- Stop getting distracted - If you’re experiencing too much pressure or just have a lot going on in your life, staying focused isn’t easy. It may help to ask for support from colleagues or friends and prioritise urgent, important and non-urgent tasks.
- Stop allowing others make you feel inferior - The key to stress-free living is to accept yourself for exactly who you are today, including past mistakes and things you might not be so proud of. Work on your self-belief and confidence and just go for it!
- Stop being judgemental - Try to adopt a more flexible thinking style which will improve your mental well-being, whilst reducing unnecessary pressure for both you and those around you. Practice being objective and understanding.
- Stop avoiding the things you least want to do - We often put off tasks that can become a recipe for worry. Take control and promise yourself a reward when you get it done.
Find out more about identifying and managing stress on the ISMA website