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How to beat stress at work

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Stress at work is a serious issue and one that needs to be given a lot of consideration.

Recent research by Unison found that 87 per cent of local government workers are suffering with stress. Over 14,000 staff members were questioned and the three main reasons for the situation are declining staff numbers (70 per cent), increasing expectations from the public (61 per cent) and heightened expectations from employers (82 per cent).

While nearly three-quarters admitted it is affecting how well they are performing in their jobs, 70 per cent said workplace stress is also affecting their personal life.

This demonstrates how important an issue this is for both employers and employees, as productivity and wellbeing will be badly damaged if people do not feel like they are able to manage the workload they have in an effective manner.

What causes stress?

ACAS points out there are a number of causes of stress:
Demands – People feel like they have too much work on
Control – Employees may feel disillusioned if they do not have any say in their duties
Support – Uncooperative managers may lead to higher levels of sickness
Relationships – People can very easily become stressed if they do get on with workmates
Role – Individuals will be anxious if they do not know what is expected of them
Change – Uncertainty and insecurity can develop if change is handled poorly

What can be done about stress?

Employees should make sure the meet their training needs, consider whether flexible working hours would improve their situation and speak up as soon as possible. The one thing they should avoid doing is burying their head in the sand, as this will only make the problem worse.

Employers have a big role to play when it comes to managing stress. Whether it is being sympathetic and supportive, or having clear policies in place whenever someone mentions a stress-related issue, they have to be on-hand.

As stress is one of the most important reasons behind long-term sickness absence from work, businesses will find their operations run much smoother if they are able to boost staff wellbeing and keep employees happy.

Good stress busting techniques

The BBC points out there are a number of techniques that people can use to tackle stress and these include:
Taking a nap – 30 to 40 minutes will recharge a person’s batteries for the rest of the day
Have a massage – A professional massage may help people to relax
Express yourself artistically – Indulging in creative activities such as acting, playing an instrument or writing poetry can help people unwind
Do not be too hard on yourself – People should not be too critical of themselves if they make a mistake in their working life
Have a laugh – Not only will it make you feel better, it will make you look better too
Check out meditation, contemplation and relaxation techniques

Don’t be afraid to speak out

The good news for people is that there is plenty of help available to them. According to the NHS, the most important thing is to speak out. If workers do not make it clear that they are struggling with stress, then colleagues and bosses may not necessarily notice there is an issue.

Life coach Suzy Greaves thinks it is essential that employees understand it is okay to say no when asked to do something.

“Have confidence in your ‘no’ when you think it’s the right decision, even though it may not be the most popular one. In the long term, your ability to say no will be one of your most valuable attributes. Outline your reasons in a specific, measurable way, but always offer a solution,” she added.

Whatever the source of the stress is, speaking to a manager will at the very least get the issue out in the open and this should offer people an emotional release.

Further information

There are numerous resources that can help employees suffering with stress. The Health and Safety Executive has its own section, while the NHS and ACAS also has advice on how to beat stress.