Verdict: Mental Health Awareness Week: Seven tips for tackling workplace stress

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Nearly half of employees in the UK have experienced workplace stress, low moods and anxiety, according to a survey by mental health charity Mind.

Verdict has compiled seven ways for organisations and individuals to combat stress in their places of work.

1) Stress signs: target the issue

Stress can be a cause of mental health problems, therefore the first couple things to do would be to actually pinpoint the signs and what exactly is causing your stress levels to rocket.

The signs of stress include feeling a sense of dread, over-burdened, irritable, aggressive, impatient, anxious, uninterested in life and neglected. Regarding the cause of these feelings, it could be your intense workload, hours, or a lack of communication with colleagues and your manager regarding your tasks.

Mind’s survey found that 42% of all employees felt that their manager would be able to spot the signs they are struggling with poor mental health, while 21% stated that their current workload feels “unmanageable”.

Mind’s Head of Workplace Wellbeing Emma Mamo said: “Be realistic, you don’t have to be perfect all the time. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get everything right all the time – we all make mistakes. If your workload is regularly spilling into your personal life, speak to your manager to see if you can jointly come up with solutions, such as delegating work to other members of staff.”

2) Routine

Understandably, a lot of employees will not seek help straightaway when dealing with high levels of stress, therefore organisations should have “routine checkpoints” to target this at an early stage, according to advice platform Safely Spoken.

Safely Spoken CEO Emma Makinson said: “The right way to manage this is to provide a nominated workplace stress coach or counsellor for each employee, whose responsibilities include maintaining monthly check-ins with the employee to discuss anything that they’re struggling with at work.

“This coach or counsellor should ideally be someone external, who employees can talk to in confidence, and who is not seen to be reporting back to the organisation. However, if organisations decide to train coaches and counsellors from within their own staff, it is essential that employees have someone to talk to who has no engagement with their day-to-day work.

“By far the most important thing that organisations can do to address workplace stress is ensure that they take employee concerns seriously. Some of it will be irresolvable: 42% of workplace stress is related to factors intrinsic to the job. However, wherever organisations can act, they must: the number one reason that employees don’t speak out is because they don’t trust their organisation to protect them.”

3) Leave work at work

While this is a lot easier said than done depending on your role, try and separate your work life from your personal life. Plan your evenings with activities you would like to do to take your mind off of your tasks instead of checking your work emails out of your contracted hours.

Mamo adds: “A good way to ensure you’re able to switch off from work is to take time at the end of your working day to reflect on everything you have achieved. You can also then refresh your task list for the next day so you can feel like you have wrapped up the working day sufficiently.”

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