International Stress Awareness Week 2022

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Health Assured team

12 October 2022

Celebrated between the 7th and 11th of November, International Stress Awareness Week is an annual event that aims to raise awareness about stress/mental health problems and promote support services.

Over recent years, employees have struggled with various stressors: the pandemic, work-life balance and the rising cost of living. As a result, much of your workforce may have experienced heightened stress levels, which given the circumstances, is natural. In this article, we will discuss stress: what it is, how it manifests itself and how your organisation can help reduce stress in the workplace.

 

What is stress?

Stress is the body’s natural response to pressure. This pressure can originate from any life situation or event – and the associated response can be physical or emotional. Even positive life changes such as a promotion, purchasing a new house, or the birth of a child can produce stress.

 

Symptoms of stress 

The symptoms associated with stress vary from person to person. Continued high-stress levels can seriously impact your employee’s physical and emotional health. Therefore, your organisation must tackle stress in the workplace and effectively support your workforce.

Symptoms of stress will often accumulate until the individual is forced to take notice of them. To help recognise when your employees may be struggling, we have provided a list highlighting some of the common symptoms associated with stress: 

  • Anxious, nervous and afraid 
  • Reduced focus and concentration.
  • Lack of confidence.
  • Mood swings.
  • Gaining or losing weight.
  • Increased fatigue.
  • Increased reliance on alcohol and substances

These issues are not exclusively work-related - employees may experience them because of external factors. However, regardless of the source, stress can affect every aspect of the individual’s life: both personal and professional.

 

Strategies for reducing stress at work

The workplace can be a stress-inducing environment. Employees experience stress from a whole host of workplace activities and stressors such as impending deadlines, lapses in communication and workload pressure. Here, we have listed a few suggestions for how to reduce unwanted stress during these challenging times.

 

Stress management training

These workshops function to educate your managers about stress. In these workshops, employees will learn how to recognise and reduce stress at work. After a Stress management workshop, the attendees will be able to identify the physical and emotional symptoms such as increased irritability, lack of concentration, loss of appetite, regular headaches etc. By recognising these signs earlier, managers can offer workplace stress relief activities to help resolve these issues.

 

Communicate with your employees

Open and honest communication is critical in any successful organisation. Keeping employees well-informed regarding changes, expectations, and performance can help keep them on track and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Additionally, open communication is a two-way relationship, so the more employers converse with employees, the more likely employees are to share concerns, ideas and thoughts. This open and honest communication will work towards creating much stronger working relationships and healthier overall company culture.

 

Provide a ‘relaxation’ space in the workplace

Sometimes people need 15 minutes to relax, re-group, and disengage from technology or general work-related interactions. Providing a quiet room or a ‘relaxation’ zone where employees can spend 15 minutes with their thoughts can dramatically help reduce workplace stress. After taking a short break free from distractions, people often feel refreshed and re-energised to tackle the rest of the day.

 

Create social activity

Employees spend a lot of time with their co-workers, so it’s important they all get along with each other. The more people enjoy their work, the better the atmosphere will be – and a better office atmosphere lead to higher productivity, creativity and collaboration. Setting aside an hour to bring your team together in a fun environment can be great for reducing employee stress and boosting team morale.

 

Prioritising workloads

In a busy office environment, stress often occurs because of situations that fall beyond the employees’ control; for example, a deadline is moved forward. In this instance, employees tend to adopt a frantic approach to their work to get everything done at once. Encourage your workers to focus on things they can control and create numbered to-do lists that prioritise their workload and helps prevent them from feeling stressed or becoming overwhelmed.

 

This International Stress Awareness Week, think about how stress impacts your organisation. If you feel that your employees experience stress regularly, spend some time researching ways that help reduce stress at work, such as the tips suggested in this guidance. 

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