Shaky hands, sweat on your back, the headache that isn't going away and a constant feeling of anxiety.
Many of us know this, we have all been there. Defined as 'the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them'; however you might experience it, stress is in some cases unavoidable. It is a natural reaction and defence mechanism of our bodies. Although, if you are constantly feeling negative and indecisive, nervous, anxious and have problems with concentration, you might be experiencing the destructive influence of stress, which may lead to developing a mental illness.
What is the cause? This is different for everyone. Global crisis, health issues, family situations or even work-related stress, all have a very strong impact on how we are feeling.
In this blog, inspired by Stress Awareness Month, we will uncover the main causes of stress, how to tackle them, top tips and how organisations can help their employees fight destructive stress at an early stage.
Take care of your mental health this April!
Since 1992, each year April marks Stress Awareness Month. Created to raise awareness on causes of stress, how to fight them effectively and where to look for help, it has become an invaluable resource for anyone struggling and this year's Stress Awareness Month theme is dedicated to “Community”. At KCS Procurement Services we are committed to bringing honesty and innovation to every one of our customers - enabling them to make a real difference to their community.
Work-related stress (WRS) - what is it and is there anything to worry about?
The answer is YES. WRS which stands for work-related stress is very dangerous. Long term, it might lead to mental health problems such as serious anxiety or depression. The problem is real and as an example a study in 2022 by Infinite Potential states, in 2021 employee burnout has increased by over 5%. The idea of work burnout is very much related to stress and mental health, as an unhealthy relationship with the workplace will eventually lead to a lack of motivation. According to data presented by HSE “in 2020/21, there were an estimated 822,000 workers affected by work-related stress, depression or anxiety. This represents 2,480 per 100,000 workers” (data collected in the UK). These numbers are huge and really reflect the dimension of the problem.
As shown by The Global Burnout Study, the main causes of WRS are:
- overwhelming workload
- poor communication with management
- going back to the office after a long period of working from home
- poor work-life balance developed over the past 2 years
Having clear conversations about mental health should be a key priority in the workplace. Other initiatives that should be taken are as simple as providing additional training when tasks are out of one's abilities, effective planning and providing employee support. These can significantly reduce pressure and lower stress levels. However, we cannot put the whole responsibility for the problem on our workplace and need to take care of our mental health before it is too late.
Easier said than done. What can you do to help yourself reduce increasing stress levels?
- The first and most important point here is to talk to others about the issue and not be ashamed. As the situation is very natural, there will definitely be people willing to listen and give advice.
- Ask others to share their coping mechanisms and speak about what has worked in the past. There isn't one effective recipe for getting rid of stress as we are all different, so it is in fact, a trial and error method.
- Another very important thing is to stay alert. Be aware of the situation and monitor how you are feeling. It is important to listen to yourself but also listen to those closest to you. If they see that something seems wrong, do not underestimate the situation, take a moment to pause and think.
- If your workload is overwhelming, speak to your manager and be clear in communicating the issue, perhaps they will be able to provide additional training or help if the situation is very serious
- When it comes to workload, try to balance all the tasks. Don't do it all at once but plan, prioritise and be easy on yourself. Give each task full attention and once it's done, move smoothly to another one.
- And remember, be realistic as nobody is perfect and putting too much pressure on yourself is never a good way out of the problem.
And finally, if you are working from home and struggling with your end-of-day habits try these easy ideas from Mind:
- Spend a few minutes tidying your workspace, this will help you to focus on something else than that heavy task you were just working on.
- Create a to-do list for the next day and plan everything. This will help manage the workload and switch off from work.
- However, while writing your list make sure to include "rest" and do not feel guilty for taking some time for yourself. REST IS PART OF THE PROCESS!
Are you an employer and not sure where to start with supporting your team in stress-related problems?
We can help.
We understand how important it is to take care of our employees mental health and we have created the Employee Support Services and Benefits framework to help other organisations get the expertise they need. The awarded suppliers on our framework work closely with public sector organisations just like yours to provide services related to occupational health and work-related mental health, and are passionate about supporting people.
Access our framework here and do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you might have.
We hope that you have found this useful and that it perhaps, inspired you to change some of your habits or think more about your mental health.
Thank you for reading,
KCS Procurement Services team
Stress Awareness Month https://www.stress.org.uk/national-stress-awareness-month/
The impact of workplace stress https://www.stress.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/THE-IMPACT-OF-WORKPLACE-STRESS-2022.pdf
Infinite Potential Global Burnout Study https://infinite-potential.com.au/2021-global-burnout-study
HSE Stress https://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/
HSE Stress Statistics https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress.pdf
How to be mentally healthy at work? Mind https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/how-to-be-mentally-healthy-at-work/work-and-stress/