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National Stress Awareness Day

The first Wednesday in November marks National Stress Awareness Day.

Stress is widely regarded as a common part of modern life, rearing from many different sources. If symptoms of stress are ignored, they can quickly lead to physical and physiological illness, highly effecting a person’s life.

Some workplace stress is to be expected, providing focus and energy to keep you on your toes, but excessive stress can interfere with productivity and performance, potentially lead to long-term absence. It's also important to understand that one person’s 'challenge' could be another’s breaking point. Here in the UK, we work the longest hours in Europe, our work is a large proportion of our life. If workplace stress is becoming overwhelming, it effects every aspect of our lives, including relationship and home-life.

You can’t control everything in your work environment, but it doesn’t mean you’re powerless, there are preventing actions you can easily take to prevent the damaging effects of stress, improve your job satisfaction, and improve well-being, both in and out of the workplace.  

Signs your workplace stress is becoming overwhelming:

When you feel overwhelmed at work, you lose confidence and may become angry, irritable, or withdrawn. Other signs and symptoms of excessive stress at work include:

  • Problems sleeping and fatigue

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Muscle tension or headaches

  • Social withdrawal


Tips to avoid stress in the workplace:

Stay Organised:

Plan ahead; create a weekly task list, highlighting the top priorities for each day. Ticking each task upon competition allows you to visualise your workload, reducing the likelihood of feeling overwhelmed. When you’re rushing to meet schedules, you’ll naturally feel stressed, so give yourself plenty of time to compete tasks

You should also ensure your workspace is clear, avoiding the negative effects of clutter, increasing comfort levels and allowing you to be more efficient with your work.

Take a Break:

When workloads are piling up, it’s easy to work through your break, but it’s there for a reason! Going out for some fresh air and a wall is a good way to combat the effects of a sedentary life style and manage stress at work with a little ‘me-time’. Some brief exercise will lift your mood, boost energy and allow you to blow off steam, all while bettering yourself.

Avoid unhealthy habits

Don't rely on ‘comfort food’, smoking or caffeine as your ways of coping. While they may provide temporary relief, these avoidance behaviours won't solve your problems, you need to tackle the cause of your stress. Try to minimise your sugar intake, avoiding foods with high levels of chemical preservatives, which could negatively affect your food further.

Have some 'me time'

Due to long hours and bust family lives, we often don't spend enough time doing things we really enjoy. It’s important you take some time, even if just a few hours to do the thing you enjoy, if that be socialising, a hobby or just relaxing. Listen to some music, have along soak in the bath, whatever it maybe, earmark a day or two in the diary to save some time for yourself.

Don’t be afraid to speak out

If you feel you can't come, speak to a colleague or team leader. Employers want a happy, motivated and productive workforce, so don’t be afraid to share your concerns!

For more advice and support visit Mind, the mental health charity.