Stress Awareness Month

Being stressed in the workplace whether at home or in the office is a challenging experience and can become a concern if not managed properly.

Signs of stress include an employee becoming more withdrawn, not turning up for work, being short tempered, not responding to email communication or just generally coming across as anxious.

Stress causes a whole range of physical, emotional and behavioural symptoms including headaches, insomnia, fatigue, irritability, changes to appetite and social withdrawal. A significant amount of stress on the body can lead to serious mental and physical health issues including dementia, heart attacks, digestive problems and weight gain. It can also badly affect personal relationships.

Some of the measures suggested here can help to ease stress levels.

Take a break – schedule a lunch break every day even if you are busy. A short stroll can help with switching off and return to tasks feeling refreshed.

Sleep– meditation apps can help with falling to sleep. One-minute meditations during the day can help with letting go of tension. Practising meditation, spending time with your loved ones or engaging in activities such as walking, art, listening to music or reading can also help alleviate stress levels.

Mindfulness – which has surged in popularity over the last decade – can also be helpful.

Breathing exercises – mindful breathing exercises such as belly breathing and breath counting can help manage stress.

Boundaries – setting and managing boundaries is important when dealing with stress.

People with solid boundaries tend to have lower levels of stress and higher self-esteem because they prioritise their well-being. On the other hand, people without boundaries may inadvertently let others take advantage of them. They may lack self-confidence, a sense of purpose, or a clear identity to guide them through life.

Setting boundaries can give a strong sense of identity and direction. You clearly communicate your needs and wants and prioritise your self-care.

Connecting – with people and friendships and talking about your issues can really help reduce anxiety as you seek help or ideas to help cope and manage a stressful time. Blocking out time to unwind at the end of the day is also important and can help with relaxation and sleep.

Self-compassion – spending time being less self-critical and reminding yourself about some positive actions or thoughts or a sense of achievement helps move your focus away from negative thoughts.

Finally work towards setting your mind at ease or if it’s a member of staff ensure that they can manage their responsibilities or delegate some of their tasks to colleagues. We spend so much of our lives at work, it’s important to feel supported and be open if stress is becoming a problem.

Emma Nicholson is Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador for Yorkshire and the North East.

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The IoD supports directors and business leaders across the UK and beyond to learn, network and build successful, responsible businesses.
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