As we come to the end of April we are also coming to the end of Stress Awareness Month 2019. Did you know that Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992 with the intention to increase the awareness of the causes of stress but also the ways in which we can combat it?
Stress awareness is becoming more and more important, not only in our personal lives but also our working life. With much focus on mental health and mental health wellbeing, stress is just one factor that contributes to mental health struggles.
No matter who we are, what level we work at or what industry we work in we are all susceptible to stress. Don’t get me wrong, a little stress can be a good thing, some of us thrive under pressure and stress helps us to get stuff done, but there is a fine line of when it is positive to our lives and when it becomes a problem.
I wanted to think about the sector that I work in and how employees and employers can help reduce stress in the workplace, but as I was thinking about my industry specifically I quickly realised that what works for one industry is almost identical to all other sectors and workplaces.
What can an employer do to help their team?
- Encourage people to be honest. By encouraging honesty in the work place and an environment where problems can be talked about, then we will be more able to open up about what is causing us stress. Sometimes just talking about something can make all the difference
- Encourage people to have a good work/life balance. We all want to do our very best at work, putting in the hours to get results and progressing ourselves. Maybe we are chasing that promotion and trying to prove ourselves and what we are capable of. Employers should show an interest in people’s lives outside of work, ensuring people leave work when it is time to go home and not letting it be frowned upon if someone leaves on time.
- Encourage people to get away from their desks. At blueskies not only are we a collaborative team where it is encouraged for us to be up from our desks talking to each other, but at 3pm on the dot I can guarantee that our boss will be reminding us to go for a 5 minute break to go for a walk or play table tennis. Anything to get us away from our desks!
- Ensure that deadlines are achievable and that unnecessary pressure is avoided
- Look at the team that you have in place and be honest with yourself. Do you have enough resources to get all of the work done? Or are you managing with what you have got and giving people too much to do which can be causing them too much pressure and therefore stress?
These are just a few examples of things that companies can be doing to help prevent stress from becoming a problem.
But it isn’t just what our employers can do for us, we also need to take some responsibility ourselves.
- Are you getting enough sleep?
- Are you managing to switch off when you leave the office or are you checking your emails before you go to bed?
- Do you take time out on your lunch break to reset for the afternoon?
- Are you taking on more than you know you can do?
- Are you spending time doing something that you love and for yourself?
Remember that stress can be damaging to staff moral, productivity and day to day life. But most importantly stress can be damaging to our mental health. Once our mental health starts to become a problem, it is incredibly difficult to find that balance again.