One situation that presents itself to us time and time again here at The Chelsea Psychology Clinic is stress in the workplace…
Stress is a creeper. You live your life amidst a myriad of challenges and, before you realise it, you are slow cooking in a broth of strains and stresses. If someone plucked you from cold and threw you into this same situation you would most likely scream for release. But, more often than not, we live with stress in the workplace, acclimatising ourselves to the heat until such a time as we cannot stand it anymore. Our breaking point. A negative place from which we have to raise ourselves painfully and gingerly. At The Chelsea Psychology Clinic we have specialist consultants who offer particular expertise in helping clients through these difficult moments whilst also offering therapies such as mindfulness cognitive behavioural therapy, an invaluable exercise in the process of managing stress at work.
Stress in the workplace is on the rise
We all have different means and mechanisms to cope with stress but one of the most important stages of coping is to be clear on the source of the pain.
With something like stress that cooks slowly with varying ingredients it is sometimes difficult to identify the origins of the discomfort. Stress is of course the product of our reaction to situations and events but which of these is the cause of our deepest angst?
According to the Health and Safety Executive over 11 million days are lost due to time off work for stress. Work is a place where we spend such a significant portion of our lives and to which we devote so much energy it is perhaps not surprising that it can be such a big contributor to our worries. Work ambition is positive but not when it consumes who we are and leaves us in a crumpled state. We must not work ourselves to the ground at the expense of what life is really about – relationships, positive experiences and learnings.
We all have a duty of care to ourselves to listen to ourselves and to others. According to Personnel Today over 59% of the workplace experiences work related stress, with that figure rising to 79% for occupations such as sales or HR. Acknowledging and identifying workplace stress is something we must all bear responsibility for.
Managing stress at work
In general, we don’t learn enough about work-related stress management and the positivist that can result. Not in the same way that we learn about healthy food practices to reduce the risk of heart disease or cancer. Or the early signs of a stroke. This type of knowledge about stress prevention is surprisingly low for a problem that affects so many, costs lives and ££.
Acknowledging the existence of work stress and learning what it looks like is step one. As a worker or employer, it is then important to explore how it can be managed e.g. talk, open-up, listen, ask if someone’s OK, provide emotional and tangible support and monitor the situation.
There are numerous sources of advice on managing workplace stress. NHS Choices is a good place to start. Also Acas has some interesting articles on dealing with workplace stress, as does the HSE with its ‘work-related stress and how to tackle it’ articles.
Taking a positive attitude to overcoming workplace stress
Having the right attitude to workplace stress is half the battle. As our starter for ten here are three areas that we believe need adoption by worker and employer alike…
- Worker well-being –we train our bodies daily – exercise and diet – we need to train our minds too. There needs to be education for workers and employers; daily training; well-being stems from mental, physical, emotional and a sense of purpose. Let’s make this part of daily working life across all workplaces.
- Mental health is everyone’s business – mental health can be perceived as just about the few – the weak, the vulnerable or those with a pre-disposition. But we are all affected every day in many ways, we all have our challenges (small or large), and it is relevant for worker and employer. So, let’s all make a difference – for all our sakes. How we look after ourselves and others will be key to everyone’s happiness and productivity.
- Get real – Businesses strive for authenticity in terms of what they sell. Yet there is still too much bullshit bingo, pretense, fake posturing in terms of how people in businesses interact. Time to get real. Business leaders must show that they sometimes struggle and have had issues, get rid of the veneer social images, the ‘shoulder pads’, the meeting postures. Get real. It will make for better business. Run your business and be a worker driven by a sense of real – in terms of who you are and how you behave to others.