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Simple Tips For Coping With Workplace Stress

18 November 2022

While we all know that stress is a normal part of human life, it may come as a surprise just how prevalent an experience it is - particularly among the workforce. The latest data from the Labour Force Survey has reported that levels of reported workplace stress among the UK labour force are at an all time high. Across 2020/2021 a reported 822,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression, or anxiety.

This trend was already in place prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, yet spiked even more significantly due to the new uncertainties and sudden changes incurred by the crisis. The most recent statistics have brought the number of reported cases of stress, depression, and anxiety to an incidence rate of 1,360 per 100,000 - almost triple the rate of cancer. In fact, stress, anxiety, and depression accounted for 50% of all work-related health issues in 2020 and 2021.

Being so prevalent, it’s important that we as a society take steps towards normalising the conversation around workplace stress and anxiety, and actively take steps to prevent its damaging effects. Here are 5 simple steps you can take when you feel the stress start to get to you.

1. Reach out to a friend

True friends are not only there for the good times, they’re there for the tough times too. When you notice yourself feeling down, don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you for an open ear or a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes simply voicing your fears or anxieties to another person is enough to get your thoughts in order and feel more empowered to tackle whatever lies in front of you. A trusted voice of reassurance can work wonders in moments of intense stress or frustration.

2. Write it down

A lot of the time, stress and anxiety are the products of feeling overwhelmed by our current situation. When there’s a lot sitting on our plate all at once, it’s all too easy to get sucked into a pattern of spiralling negative thoughts that cause us to lose sight of reality. Writing a list of everything that’s causing you grief can be a helpful step in breaking down the anxiety you feel into its individual causes. Once you’ve broken down your stresses into more manageable bitesize chunks, you can begin to work on solutions to each one without getting overwhelmed by the seemingly unmanageable bigger picture.

3. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is the meditative practice of simply existing in the moment. This means taking a second aside from the throws of daily life to acknowledge your surroundings. Easy steps towards mindfulness include:

● Focus on your bodily sensations

● Take in the details of your surrounding environment

● Breathe consciously

● Allow thoughts to drift in and out of your mind

Additionally, exercises like yoga and pilates often encourage you to forget about past regrets and future worries and simply exist in the moment within your own body. The practice of mindfulness has proven a powerful tool against anxiety for many, and in recent years has shot up in popularity as a response to episodes of mental and emotional distress.

4. Practice gratitude

Of all the remedies out there for anxiety, gratitude is certainly one of the most powerful. In the moments where we are truly grateful for what we have, it’s much harder to let unfounded fears and anxieties get the better of us. When you begin to feel overwhelmed by the tasks on your plate, or find yourself feeling low because of circumstances outside of your control - make an effort to turn your mind away from these negative thoughts and instead focus them on the positives you have surrounding you. Write a list of ten things you are grateful for, or reach out to a loved one and tell them you appreciate them. Simple actions such as these can be enough to steer the mind’s course away from a spiral of negativity and instead shift to a more positive, solution-oriented mindset.

5. Self care

It goes without saying that when our bodies feel bad, it’s a lot harder for our minds to feel well. Sufferers of anxiety will be well acquainted with the advice that looking after your physical health can bear a great impact on our mental wellbeing. Getting regular exercise is critical for empowering your body, and also stimulates the production of dopamine and serotonin in the brain - essentially the chemical ingredients of happiness. Maintaining a healthy diet helps to keep your energy levels and blood pressure stable and in check, minimising the risk of your mood suddenly dropping and opening the floodgates for anxiety to seep in.

Workplace stress is nothing to be ashamed of - the majority of us will face it at one point or another. When it crops up, focus on taking small, simple steps towards tackling the root of the issue, and never be afraid to reach out for help.