Stress Awareness Month: Managing stress for leaders and colleagues.

Stress awareness month happens every April and has been celebrated since 1992. In this article we discuss how you can manage stress for leaders and colleagues in your organisation or business.

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Health Assured team

08 March 2024

Stress has become a problem within the average UK workplace. According to research, 79% of people say they frequently experience stress and one in 14 UK adults feel stressed every single day.

Leaders need to provide support to appropriately safeguard their people’s mental health to mitigate mental health challenges, such as stress and burnout. Stress management benefits the people, workplace, and organisation.

What is stress?

Stress is a state of anxiety, tension, or worry that is caused by challenging circumstances.

It is how our mind and body react when we feel threatened, pressured, or out of control and is the body’s response to take action when stress hormones are released, such as cortisol and adrenaline.

Symptoms can have emotional, mental, and physical effects on the body like weight gain, headaches, memory issues, and hair loss.

The way we respond to and manage stress can make a huge difference to overall wellbeing and health and if the body reacts negatively to prolonged amounts of stress you could experience burnout.

Stress Awareness Month

Celebrated since April 1992, stress awareness month aims to break the cycle of poor mental health, raise awareness for stress management, preventing burnout, and encouraging open and honest conversations around stress.

The month aims to highlight the risks, causes, coping mechanisms, cures and how prolonged stress can affect overall health and wellbeing.

How can leaders combat stress in the workplace?

1. Offer extra support

Providing wellbeing support for your people is essential for many different reasons. It allows your people to explore different perspectives, have someone to talk to in confidence, and provides a safe space to discuss their mental health challenges, like stress.

Many organisations offer an Employees Assistance Programme (EAP) which offers confidential support through a trained counsellor without your people having to pay or experience long wait times.

2. Recognise the signs of stress and communicate to your people

Recognising when one of your colleagues is struggling with stress allows you to mitigate and help that individual quickly and appropriately.

Be vigilant for signs and symptoms of stress within the workplace and in your people.

Here are some signs of stress to watch out for:

  • High staff turnover
  • Aggression
  • Reduced focus and concentration
  • Restlessness
  • Increased sickness absence
  • Arguments within the workplace

3. Communicate with your people

Having open and honest conversations with colleagues abut their mental health is essential for mitigating stress and reducing the risk of burnout in your people.

Create spaces where your colleagues can comfortably have open and honest conversations with you and the leaders in your organisation, such as a wellbeing room and comfort spaces.

How can you manage stress within your life?

1. Physical exercise

Physical activity eases stress, lifts mood, improved self-esteem, increases cognitive function, and boosts a healthy lifestyle. All this improves a person’s ability to cope with mental health challenges, alleviating symptoms, and encouraging mental clarity.

Start small and work your way up. Go for a walk with the dog or invite someone on a walking coffee catch-up, small changes can add up to great results.

2. Prioritise sleep

Getting enough sleep is closely linked to improved mental health. Having less sleep is connected to mental health challenges, such as anxiety and depression, and can even make mood disorders much worse to cope with.

During sleep the brain processes emotional information, assesses memories and thoughts, and the lack of sleep can be damaging to cognitive functions.

Set up a bedtime routine that encourages relaxation, such as reading, taking a hot shower before bed, and not allowing screens in the bedroom. Be consistent with your sleep and stick to a schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time, even on your days off.

3. Learn about your mental health.

Having self-awareness around your own mental health is liberating. It supports us in understanding why we feel the way we do when challenges crop up. It allows us to appropriately comfort ourselves when we are distressed or struggling, such as coping with stress and burnout.

Talking to a counsellor is beneficial in discussing, processing, and understanding your thoughts and feelings, especially if you are feeling persistent stress. They will offer different perspectives and support you in exploring options for improved mental wellbeing.

Read reputable articles to learn about the ways your brain functions. Keep a mental health journal and research or discuss with a counsellor to fully understand your mental health.

Supporting your managers and employees with stress 

With a Health Assured Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), we can offer you practical advice and support when it comes to dealing with workplace stress.

Our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) provides guidance and supports your employees with their mental health in the workplace and at home. We can help you create a safe, productive workspace that supports all.

We support your employees' mental wellbeing with any problems they might be facing in their professional or personal lives with our 24-hour counselling helpline.


Find out more about EAPs


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