Following the COVID-19 pandemic, UK industries underwent operational changes to keep their workforce safe and their profits stable. In some instances, these changes involved increased workloads, with everyone forced to work from home if they could until further notice. With the relaxation of rules, workers are now having to return to the workplace, which has proven to be a catalyst for increased levels of stress. 

Cases of workplace stress are on the rise throughout the country, with nearly half of UK employees (47%) having experienced “excessive” stress in their workplace over the past year. Additionally, data from 2021 shows that stress in the workplace is a much broader concern than first thought:

  • Nearly a quarter of UK adults (23%) say that work, in general, causes them stress.
  • 79% of UK adults feel stressed at least once a month.
  • 18% of UK adults say that workload demands are another cause of stress for them.
  • 14% of UK adults believe that work hours are a stress factor.
  • One in every ten UK adults (10%) say their boss makes them feel stressed.

(Source: CIPHR)

In light of these eye-opening statistics, Stress Awareness Week is the perfect time to recognise and take steps to reduce stress in the workplace. To help reduce your stress levels, we’re sharing our top four tips that anyone can use to regain control at work.

Work smarter, not harder

When you focus on one task at a time, you’ll be surprised by how much you accomplish and how your stress levels decrease. Plan your work schedule and find new ways to approach your tasks to increase your productivity. Some things to consider when working smarter include:

  • Accepting that your list of tasks is always going to be full.
  • Scheduling your tasks based on your energy levels throughout the day.
  • Setting realistic start and end dates for tasks or projects.
  • Putting a stop to multitasking.
  • Starting your week with harder, more time consuming tasks.

In addition to reducing stress, working smarter will also allow you to devote more time and energy to the things that really matter – your personal growth, health and relationships.

Develop strong relationships with colleagues

Establishing a good network of colleagues can help ease your work troubles, giving you a fresh perspective on things and providing some light relief during difficult times. By connecting with people, you’ll have support in place to turn to when you need help.

You can connect with others at work by taking breaks (either in person or via Zoom!), performing tasks and doing things you enjoy together. Other ways to connect with colleagues include:

  • Getting to know colleagues that you may not know very well.
  • Attempting to find common ground with colleagues.
  • Relaxing and letting your colleagues see the real you.

Engaging in meaningful conversations, working as a team, and having a good laugh along the way are excellent stress relievers.

Consider how you take breaks

In the UK, we work the longest hours in Europe, which can mean we don’t spend the time needed to unwind or take regular work breaks. Some people are able to figure out exactly when they’re in need of a break at work. However, for others understanding how stress manifests itself can be difficult. 

Not valuing your break time leaves you at risk of feeling overwhelmed and eventually burned out. We all respond to stress differently, which means the signs of being overwhelmed can vary from person to person. However, there are some general warning signs that apply in most cases:

  • Procrastinating or having difficulties with concentration.
  • Having low energy or mood
  • Constantly worrying
  • Being irritable and snappy

Should you experience one or more of these signs, start planning a break. An easy way to ensure you take breaks is to adopt the Pomodoro Technique. This is a time management method which involves working in 25 minute intervals, followed by a five minute break and a 15 minute break after four 25 minute working sessions.

Challenge and invest in yourself

By investing in your own learning journey, you’ll enhance your performance in your job role by acquiring new skills that will help you cope with stress in the future.

Enrolling onto a short course or apprenticeship will provide you with a clear structure alongside your workload. When you are armed with knowledge, you are more likely to be inspired and focused to try new things, rather than feeling stressed about completing daily tasks.

When you incorporate these practices into your life, you will gain control over your stress levels at work and be able to thrive with positive mental health. Take control of your stress this Stress Awareness Week by working smarter, connecting with others, and developing coping strategies to relieve our stress.

Free First Aid for Mental Health Training

At Connect2Care, we’re passionate about promoting good mental health for all. That’s why we’re offering our Awareness of First Aid for Mental Health training course completely free of charge to support employers who want to be more mental health inclusive, but don’t have the funds to do so.

Two staff members from any business in the UK are eligible for the online tutor-led learning. This initiative has been launched in response to growing concerns around mental health throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

To apply for your free place, please email: [email protected] 

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