STRESS LESS AT WORK
The focus of World Mental Health Day 2017 is to promote mental health in the workplace. Depression and anxiety disorders are common mental health issues that have an impact on our ability to work, and to be productive in our roles. Work is good for mental health, however, a negative environment can inmpact your wellbeing significantly. This could have a big impact on you as an individual. The estimated cost to the global economy is US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity.
Stress is key to your survival and can be beneficial in helping you to get things done. Yet too much can be detrimental - severely decreasing the quality of your health, relationships, work, and negatively impacting your overall well-being.
Stress commonly arises in the workplace when the demands upon you are greater than your capacity to cope with them. Main causes of stress at work include long hours, job demands, conflicting roles and boundaries, organisational change, job insecurity, boredom, bullying, discrimination and lack of autonomy.
How mentally healthy is your workplace? Work-related stress can quickly take a toll if you don't have effective stress reduction strategies in place to support you. As workplace wellness specialists, we promote mental health in organisations.
Below, we're sharing our top tips and easy, effective, evidence-based ways you can look after your mental health at work.
Ready to work on your wellbeing? Check out our Top 10 Strategies to reduce stress at work:
#1. Talk about it
Share your feelings with someone you trust.
It's important to talk about stress by sharing your feelings with someone you trust. Having an open and honest conversation about what's stressing you out can help to diffuse your tension, put things in perspective and present different ways to deal with the matter most effectively.
Talking it through is a much healthier coping mechanism to reduce your stress than bottling it all up. Whether it's you, or a colleague that's struggling to cope, reach out to give and receive support when it's needed.
Take the time to look after your physical health with regular exercise, a balanced diet and routine health checks.
It's not always easy to remember to look after yourself, but making your wellbeing a priority is time well spent. Self-care is an essential strategy if you want to proactively maintain good health. Practices that focus on your physical health can also reduce the risk of stress-related issues such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Avoid putting yourself under unnecessary pressure.
It's important to keep your expectations in check to avoid overwhelm. Work on creating a healthy perspective of what's realistic, and relinquish what's not.
Make a list of what you've got to do and assess what's feasible. If you have too many commitments and lack the time or resources to complete them all, consider which ones can be re-prioritised, delegated or eliminated altogether. Take control by committing to tackling the most important and necessary demands first, ensuring it's more satisfying than it is stressful.
#4. Have Some Fun
Save time for the things you enjoy most. De-stress by doing more of what makes you happy!
Laughter is the best medicine - it relaxes you, helps you to feel more optimistic and reduces your levels of stress hormones - so have some fun as you reduce your stress! Get involved with workplace campaigns such as Lifeline's Stress Down Day and have a laugh with your colleagues. Join a group or social team, plan something to look forward to out of working hours, or explore a new hobby, sport or passion project you'll enjoy.
#5. Chill out
Practice regular relaxation techniques.
Explore different relaxation techniques to discover what effectively relieves the stress and tension in your mind and body and helps you to recover from stressful experiences.
Mindfulness meditation is a great place to start - linked to lowering heart rate and blood pressure, and even improving thinking and performance. Breathing exercises are another effective way ease your mental stress and activate your relaxation response in just a minute or two.
If you're looking for more calm, why not incorporate mindfulness and movement with a yoga or tai chi class? Exercise can boost your endorphins and reduce your stress levels in as little as 20 minutes each day.
Make time for friends and family alongside your other priorities.
Socialising is a great way to boost your mood and spending time with others can have a positive impact on your overall wellbeing. Nurture close relationships or reach out to meet new people and create new connections. Remember to regularly reserve some time in your busy schedule to relax in the company of the people you love and care about the most.
Relationships can be one of the greatest sources of joy, support and meaning in your life, playing a key role in enhancing your overall mental wellbeing.
#7. Take your time
Take time out when you need to, if you feel your stress levels are rising.
Naming and observing your stress is a powerful tactic to help you regain control and diffuse a stressful situation before it escalates.
With a sense of awareness that your stress levels are increasing comes the choice to do something about it. Taking a break or actively stepping away from a situation can quickly help to reduce your stress, increase your energy and can provide you with new insights and perspectives too. Even a short time out can be a sanity-saving act of self-care, allowing you to regain your sense of calm and return to the situation feeling refreshed, re-energised and ready to go.
#8. Make a plan
Plan ahead to manage situations you anticipate could be stressful for you.
Use planning to maintain a sense of control and reduce or eliminate the things that cause you stress ahead of time. The less stress in your life, the happier you'll feel.
Planning is a time-tested tactic to identify and mitigate stressful triggers in your life. What's a likely stress source for you? For example, reduce the stress of public speaking by scheduling in adequate time to rehearse and prepare yourself. Bypass deadline panic by comprehensively breaking down the actual time a project will take without being over optimistic. Creating a realistic estimate, supported by a clear breakdown of the tasks involved, will help you to assess the feasibility and whether you need to negotiate an extension.
#9. Cut it out
Limit your intake of alcohol, caffeine and other substances.
Stress is a common trigger for every type of addiction; including caffeine, sugar and alcohol. Many people turn to substances as an escape from the stress they are experiencing - this escape can quickly become an addiction. Listen to your body to become aware of the signs of stress and how you're dealing with them.
If you catch yourself self-medicating, take positive action by seeking out healthier ways to deal with your tension. Swap coffee for a green tea, processed sugars for natural ones and look for the non-alcoholic options when it's time for a drink.
Spend time focussing on the good! Celebrate accomplishments and take note of what's going well.
Many people focus on what's going wrong, what's difficult, what's missing, the issue or problem without acknowledging or celebrating the positives that also exist. A constantly negative perspective can contribute to overwhelming levels of stress.
Take time to recognise and celebrate the positives by reflecting on your achievements, big and small, as well as considering who and what you appreciate and are grateful for.