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How to manage stress at work

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Work is the most stressful aspect of a person”s life, more so than debt worries or health problems.

That is according to research by mental health charity Mind, which surveyed more than 2,000 working adults and found that 34 per cent of respondents said that their job was the most stressful thing in their life.

This is in comparison to 30 per cent of those questioned, who said that debt and financial problems were the main causes of their worry, and 17 per cent who attributed health concerns as the factor in their life to contribute the most to feelings of anxiety.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “Our research shows that employees are still experiencing high levels of stress at work, which is negatively impacting their physical and mental health.”

What causes stress?

When you feel overwhelmed at work, you may lose confidence and become irritable or withdrawn. This can make you less productive and less effective at your job, furthermore, it may make your work seem less rewarding than before.

Some feelings of stress are natural reactions which can be positive and motivating. But, in its negative form, it is brought about by excessive demands or pressures arising when people try to cope with tasks, responsibilities or other aspects of their job, but find it difficult to do so.

Work-related stress can be caused by a number of issues, including long hours or shift work, lack of control and job satisfaction, insecurity, bullying, bad relations with other work colleagues, low pay, boredom and isolation.

If all of this sounds familiar, don”t despair. From a personal perspective, there are ways in which workplace stress can be managed.

How to cope

While there is no specific law about dealing with stress, the Health and Safety Executive says your employer has a duty to ensure safe methods of working.

If you are dissatisfied, inform your manager, and if you feel job pressure is putting your health at risk, discuss ways in which it could be alleviated or suggest alternatives to help ease anxiety.

If you ignore the warning signs of stress, it could lead to bigger problems. Therefore, recognising triggers and approaching stress constructively will help you to confront the source in order to understand how to better-cope.

Enduring, mastering and surviving what work throws at us and converting it into a positive force is a lifelong challenge. Remember some stress is good but don”t let job-related pressures take over your personal life.

Look after yourself

When stress at work interferes with your ability to perform in your job or adversely affects your personal life and health, it”s time to take action.

Taking care of yourself doesn”t require a total lifestyle overhaul, even making small changes can go a long way to lifting your mood and reduce stress levels.

Exercise

Regular exercise is a powerful stress-reliever, even though it may be the last thing you feel like doing.

Aerobic exercise – anything that increases your heart rate and makes you sweat – is not only beneficial for lifting your mood. To really get the most out of aerobic exercise, try to aim for at least three to four 30 minutes sessions every week.

Eat well

Healthy eating is not about strict nutrition philosophies, it”s about feeling good and improving your mental wellbeing.

Filling up on colourful fruit and vegetables is the foundation of a healthy diet – they are low in calories and nutrient dense. This means they are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, all the things that are great for an uplift.

Cut down on booze

Mind”s research found that workplace stress was driving people to drink, with six in ten (57 per cent) saying they had an alcoholic beverage after a day”s work, and one in seven (14 per cent) stating they even drank during the day to help them manage.

While turning to alcohol may temporarily reduce anxieties and worry, over-indulging could cause a return of feelings of stress as the drink wears off. In extreme cases, it may also lead to daily dependency.

Get enough sleep

Not only can stress cause insomnia, but a lack of sleep will only magnify your anxieties. When you”re well-rested, it”s much easier to keep an emotional balance so aim for eight hours a night if possible.