Categories: life style

Coping with Workplace Stress and Anxiety in 2021

Workers feeling stressed out or anxious is certainly nothing new.  Since the emergence of COVID 19 there has undoubtedly been a mental health crisis that is still unfolding and the magnitude of which is still unknown, but the things that cause people to be stressed out with work (and work colleagues) have been around long before the pandemic. You do not need to go through this alone. There are techniques for managing stress and anxiety that are proven effective. And the great news is that starting to think about dealing with the issue means you’re already on the path to better workplace mental health. 

You need to identify both the causes of your stressful episodes and the precursor warning signs in order to successfully manage your experiences of stress and anxiety. Everyone is different, and the root causes of stress can be similarly different from person to person. So don’t worry if what makes you stressed at work doesn’t seem to have the same effect on your work colleagues.

Understanding what causes workplace stress is only half the task. You also need to work out what helps you (and you specifically) causes the feelings of stress and anxiety to dissipate. Map the different things that cause you stress at work to what alleviates each one. Once you know what’s best at helping you avoid stress, talk to your manager. They should be able to help you recalibrate your working life so that stress can be avoided or at least managed.

Everyone has different coping strategies for dealing with stress, so take some time to find methods that work for you, as they may take you by surprise. There is no right way and wrong way (providing the method does no harm to you or others). Use your proven-successful techniques as soon as you start to feel stress or anxiety building.

One such method is known as mindfulness. This practice is about focusing on the here and now. It may help you to find calmness and clarity to respond to stressful situations. Mind has some great articles and resources on mindfulness. As well as directly looking after your mind and mental health, it’s equally crucial to eat well and get regular exercise.

Here are some things to consider when looking to manage, cope with, and ideally avoid workplace stress.

  • Discuss your workload with your manager. If you feel that the demands being made of you excessive and unrealistic, discuss the possibility for setting fairer, more realistic targets and goals.
  • Look at whether improvements can be made to how you balance and manage your time. You could be doing too much at once. If you don’t give each task your full attention, it can take longer.
  • Try to focus on goals achieved as well as work to be done. Reward yourself for tasks you’ve completed by taking a break outside, chatting to co-workers, or whatever else helps you decompress and relax.
  • Talk to your superiors about using a workplace wellbeing app such as the NHS-approved Companion app to incorporate techniques like CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) to help instil organisation-wide changes.
  • Ensure you give yourself short breaks throughout the day, as well as at least half an hour away from your desk at lunch. Spend some time outside if you can.
  • Try to use any holiday you’re entitled to, and not just for big annual holidays. Sometimes when things get too much, a few days off to just relax at and reset can help relieve work stresses. It can even boost your productivity on returning to work.
  • Be sure to maintain and nurture your non-work relationships. Developing interests and skills that you don’t use at work can help define differences between your personal life and your working life.

The subject of mental health has a higher profile now than ever before. People, especially men (who historically have been more reticent to talk about their feelings, even with close friends), are much more open to talking about their mental health, which is a great thing. But there is still a prevailing feeling in some quarters that the workplace is somewhere where stress is just part and parcel of the job, and that if you cannot cope with the pressure, you should probably be in a different vocation. This is a dangerous and also unproductive viewpoint. There is plenty of proof that when workers are happy they are more productive, and part of being happy is being free of stress and anxiety.

Lolitta Dozier

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