Stress – take a workload off your mind
“One in six of us will experience a mental health problem in any given week.”
This is just one of the worrying statistics from the Mental Health Foundation’s (MHF) survey, which highlights that pressure in our jobs is perhaps the biggest challenge to our mental health. Work commitments can often mean we’re working longer hours and taking fewer breaks – all of which can have a negative effect on our work-life balance.
Whether it’s a tight deadline or an increased workload, we all get stressed sometimes, but, it’s important to realise this and do something positive about it.
Fortunately, help is at hand. Most employers have flexible working and working hours policies that you can discuss with your line manager. In the UK we work the longest full-time hours in the EU, so adjusting your working hours and trying to ‘work smarter’ can help your work-life balance, and ultimately reduce stress.
As well as looking at your work pattern, there are a number of other steps you can take to help reduce stress. Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational health expert at the University of Lancaster, shared some top stress-busting tips with the NHS:
Exercise won’t make your stress disappear, but it will reduce some of the emotional intensity that you’re feeling, clearing your thoughts and letting you deal with your problems more calmly.
Take proper breaks at work
Make sure you take a lunch break and get out of the workplace if you can.
Connect with people
A good support network of colleagues, friends and family can ease your work troubles and help you see things in a different way. Spending time with friends can help us relax and talking things through with them might help find solutions to your problems. We often have a good laugh with them too, which is an excellent stress reliever.
Have some ‘me time’
We all need to take some time for socialising, relaxation or exercise. Setting aside a couple of nights a week for some quality ‘me time’ away from work also means you’re less likely to be tempted to work overtime.
Try learning a new language or taking up a sport. Challenging yourself to learn something new helps to build confidence, and can help you deal with stress.
Avoid unhealthy habits
Don’t rely on alcohol, smoking or caffeine as your way of coping. Over the long term, these crutches won’t solve your problems, but will likely create new ones.
You can find a full list of Professor Cooper’s recommendations on the NHS website, as well as a host of other handy hints and tips to beat stress.