Preventing employee occupational stress entirely is an admirable goal for businesses. However, it takes time, and some employees need help now.
Occupational stress is prevalent in business. Stress.org report a whopping 83% of workers suffer from it, so if you do, you’re not alone.
While in many situations, stress is simply a normal reaction to a taxing event, left unchecked over a long time, it can lead to chronic stress, also known as PTSD.
When you have chronic stress, you are also likely to notice an exacerbation of anxiety or depression and physical symptoms such as body pains or headaches. If it’s not you with it but an employee, look for a change in their productivity and a rise in illnesses and sick leave.
While typically associated strictly with the mental state, stress can negatively affect physical health too.
During times of elevated stress, the body produces a hormone called cortisol. In adequate amounts, it increases the availability of tissue-repairing processes. Still, over an extended period, cortisol damages the immune system. Increased cytokine production causes inflammation that compromises immunity and, in severe cases, elevates blood sugar levels, which can be a causative factor for Type 2 diabetes.
Workplace stress is, unfortunately, one of the most prevalent forms of the condition. With lives becoming increasingly more hectic and an ever-growing number of people feeling like there are not enough hours in a day to get everything done, it’s easy to start feeling stuck and like you can never truly switch off and relax. However, failing to do so can severely affect your health and overall well-being. Let’s look at some methods you can use to help diminish stress responses.
Stressing out can result in burnout, poorer work performance, increased absence or turnover, decreased quality of life, and even physical illness. However, the causes are different for everybody. As such, it’s essential to determine the most common stressors and try to combat them. Encourage employees to come forward with their own stories.
Personal experience can often act as a catalyst for beneficial change in the workplace. You can discover that some systems or processes don’t work as efficiently as they could and that there’s plenty of room for improvement.
If workers have difficulty self-assessing, the solution would be to require them to record their feelings and information about their environment. Tracking what happened in substantial detail can help identify patterns more likely to trigger stress responses.
Workplace stress is frequently caused by biting off more than you can chew. You can often feel that if you take on more tasks and distribute your effort in more than one direction, you’re more productive and manage to get more things done.
The truth, however, is entirely different. You’re more likely to tire yourself and perform everything only halfway as well as you would if you had fewer things to deal with. There is where you need to take back control with boundaries that work for you.
Work time versus your time
Set boundaries, and don’t agree to do more than you can. If you’re already struggling to keep up with the tasks you have to finish, don’t agree to help a co-worker with something they’re working on.
Decline politely and explain how you don’t feel you can handle anything extra. Moreover, you should make sure that your employer respects your free time.
Avoid checking work emails in the evenings or during weekends and holidays.
Get enough sleep, which is an essential part of optimal stress management.
If you find it difficult to build healthy sleep habits, not a surprise, considering a large percentage of the population is struggling with sleep deprivation nowadays.
How To Improve Your Sleep
Improve your sleep hygiene by reducing caffeine intake, and minimise the use of computers or smartphones before bed, as the blue light they emit can wreak havoc on your circadian rhythm.
Positive responses include:
- Reduce your caffeine intake
- Eating less fast food
- Consuming less alcohol
- Exercise more
- Socialise more with friends and family
- No device time an hour before bed
When it comes to stress, the factors are generally external, but how well you manage your internal responses to them significantly impacts your overall well-being. It is easy to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms during periods of heightened stress, such as overeating fast food or consuming alcohol in large quantities. While these actions may seem like they’re helping you to cope, they are more likely causing tensions to rise.
Choose exercise instead, particularly something that promotes mindfulness, such as yoga or pilates. Make time for your favourite hobbies or activities, and make sure you don’t isolate yourself from other people.
Meet up with family and friends, read, go to concerts and set aside time for activities that bring pleasure and relaxation.
Neglecting to make room in your schedule for leisure poses a significant threat to your mental wellness.
Left unchecked, and with stress levels mounting, you can develop depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. In this case, you might be eligible for legal compensation, as your mental health suffered directly from your exposure to stressful conditions.
If you reside in the United Kingdom, you will use a compensation calculator UK; otherwise, use one for your country, e.g., USA or Australia. The calculator will assist you with an estimate of what you could receive as a payout, i.e., compensation. Generally speaking, the payment you will be eligible to receive depends mainly on the mental damage you sustained.
For example, in the UK, or mild cases with a full recovery and overall very minor symptoms, the amount is between £3,950 and £8,180. If your case was moderately severe, the sum is between £23,150 and £59,860. In this situation, the prognosis is generally favourable, but the symptoms have persisted over time and can be challenging to handle.
If the condition is severe, the maximum compensation is around £100,670 and usually implies a permanent mental disorder that impacts your day-to-day life.
Get The Support You Need
When dealing with a stressful situation, one of the worst things you can do is isolate yourself from others.
Although it’s easy to feel like nobody understands you, talking to others can help offer some much-needed perspective and even enable you to leave the negative mindset you’ve been stuck into for a while. You can also take it a step further and request professional assistance.
Counselling provided by mental health professionals can go a long way in helping you manage your stress if you’re frequently overwhelmed.
When struggling with stress, you’re always likely to fall into unhealthy behavioural patterns and exacerbate your worries instead of settling them. Immediate intervention is necessary to solve the problem as quickly as possible before it develops into something more serious.