How to manage stress in the New Year
Your Healthy Living Advice for January 2015
New Year’s Resolutions
We are all used to setting resolutions at this time of year mainly to lose weight, take more exercise and stop smoking but what about reducing the stress in your life?
This is especially true if you feel stressed at work because this can make you ill. In the period 2011/12 the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) reported that 428,000 people felt work related stress was making them ill. That is 40% of all work-related illnesses and is probably an under estimate as many people either don’t recognise it or don’t report it.
What is stress?
Stress is defined as the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures and demands placed on them and the main reasons for people feeling stressed at work are work pressure, lack of support from managers and work related violence and bullying.
If you are not sure whether you are suffering from stress the usual symptoms are pounding heart, dry mouth, odd aches and pains and loss of appetite for food and sex. If you have these symptoms you need to pinpoint the cause. One of the main ways to relieve stress at work is to learn to say “no” when you know you haven’t got time to do whatever is being asked of you. Outline your reasons in a specific measurable way but always offer a solution.
Keys to good stress management
- Physical activity can get you in the right state of mind to identify
The cause of your stress and find a solution. There is a solution for every problem but if you remain passive, thinking there is nothing you can do, your stress will get worse. The feeling of loss of control is one of the main causes of stress so taking control is a crucial part of finding a solution that satisfies you and not someone else. You need to look at ways to manage your time like making a “to-do list” at the end of each day and listing what you have to-do in order of importance.
- A good support network can also ease your work troubles and helps you see things in a different way. The activities we do with friends gives us a chance to relax and having a
Good laugh with them is an excellent stress reliever.
- Try to ensure that you do not work more hours than you are contracted for. The UK workforce works the longest hours in Europe and so people don’t spend enough time doing things they really enjoy. Aim to set aside a couple of nights a week for some quality “Me time”.
- By setting yourself challenges, in work or outside, you can help build your confidence as you are being proactive and taking charge of your life, which in turn will help you deal with stress.
- it’s important that you don’t rely on alcohol, smoking and caffeine as your ways of coping as over the long term they will not solve your problem. Men are more likely to do this than women as they are less likely to seek support from their social circle.
- Volunteering has been shown to help relieve stress as it makes you feel good to help others and also shows you that many others have worse problems than you do. Even just doing somebody a favour each day can be enough to make you feel better.
- In all aspects of your life, work smarter rather than harder. Become more organised, so for example when you go shopping, you run 2‐3 errands at the same time, keep telephone conversations short and to the point, only look at emails once a day etc. Concentrate on the tasks that will make a real difference and leave the least important jobs till last or when you are tired.
- Look for the positives in life and things for which you are grateful. Write down 3 things at the end of each day which went well for you. By making a conscious effort each day you can train yourself to be positive about life.
- Accept things that you can’t change and concentrate on everything you do have control over e.g. if your company is going under and you are going to be made redundant there is nothing you can do about it so concentrate on getting a New job.
- Learn to relax. Use deep breathing exercises and take up Yoga or Tai Chi. You could also talk to your employers as they have a duty of care to their staff and must run stress risk assessments on a regular basis
Our Monthly Healthy living quiz
- How many people reported work related stress that was making them ill in 2011/12?
- What proportion of all work related illness is that?
- What is the definition of stress?
- What are the symptoms of stress?
- What are the main reasons for work stress?
- Name the main way to relieve work related stress?
- What shouldn’t you do to relieve stress?
- Name 3 things that are key to good stress management?
- What else will help?
- What duty do employers have with regards to stress in the workplace?
Answers: Q1, 428,000. Q2, 40%. Q3, The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures and demands placed on them. Q4, Pounding heart, dry mouth, odd aches and pains and loss of appetite for food and sex. Q5, Work pressure, lack of support from managers and work related violence and bullying. Q6, Learn to say “no”. Q7, Smoking, drinking or ignoring it. Q8, Being in control, having a good social network and adopting a positive outlook. Q9, Relaxation. Q10, They have to ensure health, safety and wellbeing of their employees and run a risk assessment for work related stress.