Post 2 of 3 for Stress Awareness Month. Work-related stress and poor mental health accounts for over half of work absences – and costs British businesses up to £45 billion every year in 2020 according to Deloitte . So for #stressawarenessmonth2022 we’re looking at workplace stress and specifically in this post how to take control and manage it.
I’m focusing on the issue of stress for those in a transition phase of their career – either starting a new career or moving up to a new level within their career, although the advice can be used by everyone.
This is the second of 3 posts. The others are:
- What is stress and what are the common causes
- How to take control and manage it
- Stress-Less Tips for anyone suffering at the moment.
Taking control of stress
Some good news is that stress is generally very manageable. I’m going to look at 2 approaches:
- Get to know ourselves really well.
- Take responsibility for doing something about it
Get to know ourselves
Everyone feels stress and has similar reactions to it. The differences lie in our triggers and the levels that we can individually deal with comfortably. The tolerance levels of stress are the underlying factors of resilience and the more we can build resilience, we better we can manage it and use stress for its positive qualities.
The best way to understand your own triggers for and reaction to stress is to do a quick time travel back to a stressful period in your life. This could be yesterday or last year, it doesn’t really matter it just needs to be a situation which you can imagine very clearly.
Once you have the occasion in your mind, think about the following questions:
- When did it start? What was the person/action/situation which suddenly made your stress levels start to rise?
- Was it linked to anything else? Is a repeating ‘thing’ or a cumulation of ‘things’?
- What happened to you physically and mentally? What are your stress reactions?
- What did you do next? Did it help or worsen the situation?
- If you were listening to your friend tell you this same scenario, what would you tell them?
By breaking down one particular stressful time and taking an objective view of what happened, we can often spot our triggers which kick in at other times too. We can find the patterns either from how we react physically or from an external ‘happening’ and we are bringing our behaviour into our conscious mind, rather than it being an unconscious reaction. Once something is in our conscious mind, we stand a much better chance of managing or changing it.
Sometimes our stress reactions are actually just habits. A way that our body has learnt to react to a certain event. Sometimes these reactions are helpful and sometimes they are not! Again, if we can make these habits conscious, we can start to break down ways to change that habit. Habit change is a whole topic on its own – ask me if you’d like to know more about this.
Taking responsibility for doing something
Your stress is your responsibility as no one else can ever truly understand what triggers your stress or how you react to it – which means that it’s up to you to do something differently or make something happen to change your stress levels. It doesn’t mean you have to do it alone but you do have make the decision to do something on your own.
This could be:
- Having a conversation with your manager
- Seeking help from a colleague
- Getting some training
- Removing yourself from a situation.
Even in the moment, if you can spot the signs that the stress is starting to get to you, you have control over changing something to help yourself.
– Getting outside into the calm and fresh air of nature for 10 minutes.
– Calling someone for a quick chat
– Making yourself a drink or changing your scenery even for a few minutes.
It’s amazing how effectively we can nip a lot of stress in the bud if we just take some small action and get some perspective and distance from the immediate situation.
If you need 1 minute’s worth of a reset, use the short clips of nature on the @findyourwingsuk Instagram and facebook feed posted most lunchtimes. These give you the time to take yourself out of the to-do list for a short time and your body can re-set your stress levels.
Even if you know that you’ve left things too long and your stress levels are through the roof, affecting your daily life – it has to be down to you to do something differently to break the cycle. Talking to a doctor, a loved one or a friend could be a powerful first step of reducing the hold that stress has on your life.
Take back control, one small step at a time.
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April is Stress Awareness Month. It’s a big issue and has a big impact. We’re going to take this month to look at the different sides of workplace stress, specifically what stress is, how it can be useful and practical ways to manage it.
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