3 ways you can reduce work related stress right now
April is the ‘Stress Awareness’ month, an opportunity to stop and have a look at our mental wellbeing and consider the impact stress is having in our lives.
The modern age is one that is filled with unprecedented levels of stress. As technology and competition for resources increase, the stress placed on individuals and society grows ever more profound. In Great Britain, work-related stress, anxiety and depression is a common issue – 488K cases were recorded across 2015 and 2016, which is a prevalence rate of 1510 per 100 000 workers.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at the sources of stress in our lives and provide tips and strategies for managing and reducing it.
Join us as we explore the stress epidemic in the modern age…
According to stress.org.uk, stress is a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that “demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilise.” And I’m sure it’s something that we’ve all experienced to varying degrees.
As we’ll all recognise, stress can come from many different sources, whether it be work, family, relationships, or finances. With the hectic “always on” pace of life that many of us live, stress can be hard to avoid.
Stress has been linked to a range of physical and mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia. It can also cause physical symptoms such as headaches and chest pain. Although it is normal to experience some stress, when it becomes too much, it can have serious consequences.
Technology and its impact
One of the main causes of modern-day stress is the constant availability of technology. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other digital devices are now a part of everyday life for many people. This means that many of us feel constantly connected to work and to our social lives, which can result in an overload of information and demands on our time. Feeling pulled in all directions by constant notifications is something that most of us can recognise.
But we’re all different
What’s stressful to one person might be exhilarating to another. Some of us need the pressure of a deadline to produce our best work. How we related to pressure can have a marked impact on our stress levels. People can become overwhelmed by their own expectations, as well continue to compare themselves to others, leading to feelings of inadequacy and stress.
The cost of workplace stress
There’s a general rising trend of employees being overworked and having poor work-life balance, which is undermining UK job quality. More than half (57%) of us UK employees feel worn out by work, whilst half a million people in the UK now suffer from work-related stress. We’re also seeing a general trend of employees being overworked and having poor work-life balance, which is undermines the quality of work we deliver.
The increasing costs of both individual and business performance have been linked to work-related stress and mental illness. This issue is responsible for more than half of all work absences and costs British businesses an estimated £26 billion annually. Additionally, research has shown that 460,000 people move from work to sickness and disability benefits each year, resulting in a further expense of £9 billion for employers.
So, as businesses we can’t just ignore stress, we need to be vigilant of signs of stress developing and support our employees create a work-life balance that avoids the danger of burn-out.
Caring responsibilities can add to the toll
Working parents and those with other caring responsibilities are under immense pressure and often need more support to prevent burnout.
Stress and burnout are a very real problem for all, but it’s hitting working parents particularly hard – likely due to the fact that they are juggling more every day. The stats back this up: 62% of working women with children feel worn out versus 46% without. The same goes for fathers, too; 72% of working dads claim to be worn out versus 51% of those without children. This indicates that more needs to be done to support those juggling work and childcare – especially when it comes to holiday during the year.
One good reason that adds to the parents’ stress is the fact that even their holidays are rarely the break they desperately need. Whether they’re working hard to find childcare – which brings added stress and extra costs – or taking their children away on very costly holidays as they face either booking trips away during peak price times paying up to 81% more than usual, or facing school penalties that start at around £800 for term-time breaks.
What can help
While we’d hate to say we’ve solved the problem of work-related stress at Curious Health, there are a few things we’re doing to help our team avoid stress and create a work/life “blend” that works for them and their families.
1. Creating a culture of wellbeing in the office
This can include offering flexible working hours, creating a supportive environment, and providing resources such as mental health support and counselling. It’s not only beneficial to the employees themselves, but can also have a positive impact on companies in terms of staff retention and a healthy, happy workforce. With a little bit of extra effort, businesses can make a huge difference to the lives of their employees.
At Curious Health we are advocates of flexible working, we understand the importance of work/life balance and most of all we respect and encourage our right to disconnect.
We want people to feel they can disconnect whether that be when their day has finished or when they are on annual leave; we encourage everyone to work flexibly in a way that suits them. We always deliver for our clients and dedicate ourselves to the brilliant results that our clients deserve – so we focus on our teams’ output rather than how and where the work is achieved.
Flexible working has been shown to be beneficial in reducing stress, as it allows employees to balance their work and home life more effectively. It can also allow employees to take regular breaks throughout the day, and to have a more flexible approach to their work.
“As a working mum, flexible working has been a total game changer for me! It means I can juggle my work and family commitments without feeling like I’m constantly falling behind. Whether I need to attend a school event or take my little one to the doctor, I know I can adjust my working hours and location to make it happen. This has reduced my stress levels and helped me maintain a healthier work-life balance, which has been amazing for my overall well-being. I’m so grateful to work for a company that values flexible working and understands the importance of supporting working parents like me” – Jaquie
We also made sure that our employees can benefit from our Vitality Health plan which includes: primary care, mental health cover, easy access to care through digital tools and rewards for keeping active and healthy.
Having access to comprehensive health benefits like these is crucial for a number of reasons.
- Firstly, it can reduce stress and anxiety around potential health issues, allowing employees to focus on their work and personal lives.
- Secondly, having access to mental health support can help employees manage their stress levels, improve their work performance, and enhance their overall quality of life.
- Thirdly, the easy access to care through digital tools can save time and effort, making it easier for employees to prioritise their health without taking time off work or disrupting their daily routines.
- Lastly, the rewards for healthy living provide an added incentive for employees to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which can have a positive impact on their physical and mental well-being.
Now, It is important to remember that stress is a normal part of life and it is only when it becomes unmanageable that it can start to have an impact on our mental health.
The good news is that there are ways to manage stress and improve mental health. Exercise is one of the best things you can do to reduce stress and improve overall wellbeing. Regular exercise releases endorphins and can help to reduce anxiety and depression.
‘I love yoga so when I found a lunchtime class, I knew I had to incorporate it into my week. During this time, I switch off and take a screen and desk break which leaves me feeling more refreshed to start the afternoon. I also try to take my dogs for walks at lunchtime – I know it’s a cliché now but I really notice an increase in productivity when I have made an effort to add gentle movement into my day whether walking or a yoga class. Namaste’ Ev
3. Reaching out for help
Feeling constantly stressed at work is tough, but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to go through it alone. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or coworker, or seek professional support if needed. Taking care of your mental health is essential, and reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Remember, you’re not alone and there’s always someone who can help.
Taking the time to look after yourself and your mental health can make a big difference in reducing stress and improving your overall wellbeing.
‘Speak with colleagues can make such a difference with managing stress. Whether navigating tight deadlines or personal stresses, being able to speak candidly with co-workers has been so refreshing and has often been an immense help. I make it a point to schedule virtual coffees with colleagues to catch-up, have a laugh and connect and to use line-management meetings to discuss my workload and any concerns – personal or professional – to ensure I’m able to manage everything effectively. Being transparent with colleagues and seeking support when needed can help you to achieve a better work/life balance and help you show up as your best self in all areas of your life.’ – Kalyn
The Stress Management Society has created a range of tools and resources as part of their 2023 campaign, aimed at helping people move from a state of distress to relaxation. Their 30-day challenge is definitely worth a try.
If you are interested to find out more on how we at Curious Health incorporated a culture of wellbeing in our workplace, have a look at our blog here