We can all experience feelings of stress now and then and some of us may feel it more than others; it’s often a natural reaction to dealing with life situations and events. Doing something new for the first time, not being in control, feeling like we are in danger, are of course all perfectly normal and understandable reasons to potentially feel stress.

We’ve all felt that sudden rush of adrenaline, our own built-in, fight or flight reaction. In many circumstances that feeling passes and we return to our usual state once the cause or situation has passed.

When our bodies enter that ‘fight’ mode our brain function is reduced and all our blood rushes to our muscles. It makes it less easy for us to think clearly. We can easily become more agitated or aggressive which will negatively impact what we are doing.

We may take ‘flight’ and try to run away from the cause of our stress. Of course, in many situations, we can’t really run away and while we think we have dealt with it the cause is invariably still there and will probably catch us up.

Inevitably the way to recover from the thing that is causing us stress is to deal with it, although that may very well be easier said than done. Hoping it will simply just go away will most likely prolong the feeling of stress.

Life is faced paced and we put pressure on ourselves to meet our own and other people’s expectations of us. In the workplace it can be all to easy to skip your break, stay a little later or work at weekends to get a job complete. Technology has made many of us fall into the trap of thinking that we should be available 24/7 and checking our emails in evenings, at weekends or whilst we are on holiday is the norm.  Leaving work behind at the end of the day is reportedly becoming increasingly difficult but really it should be something that is a priority.

Management styles, business demands and workload are regularly blamed for stress-based absences at work. 37% of business in a recent CIPD poll had seen an increase in this type of absence in the last year.

What happens when that feeling of stress doesn’t pass and just gets more intense?

Physical and mental health can suffer hugely as a result of living with a constant undertone of stress and we owe it to ourselves and each other to look out for the warning signs. Commons signs that a person is suffering from stress can be….

  • taking more time off sick
  • lateness
  • being more forgetful or accident prone than usual
  • having a more negative mood
  • avoidance of certain people or situations or becoming withdrawn
  • loss of sense of humour and increased irritability
  • feeling unwell
  • lack of sleep

In the UK over 12 million working days are lost per year due to stress and it thought that stress plays a part in almost ¾ of our visits to the doctor.

So what can we do to look ourselves a bit more?

  • We need to have some down time. Get lost in book that is pure fiction, have a bath, listen to music and avoid screens for an hour before you go to bed. Relax, you’ll sleep better
  • If you feel unwell, allow yourself time to rest and get better. Don’t think about what you should be doing, or worse still try to do it anyway. Wait until you are fit again
  • Say ‘no’ sometimes, don’t get carried away but it’s ok to say no if you really need to
  • Make lists and prioritise your work, tick things off when you’ve completed them so that you can see that your really are getting somewhere.
  • Take up a hobby, play a sport, volunteer. Doing something for you, give yourself and your happiness a boost
  • Eat and drink well and try to cut back on stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Despite our habit of associating them with relaxing they actually have the opposite effect if you are already feeling stressed
  • Get some natural light and fresh air, plants are also great for positively conditioning your working environment
  • Consider ways to be more mindful and positive during your day – there are range of apps that can support this as well as numerous books on the topic.
  • Remember to breathe, take deep breathes and rebalance yourself

Most importantly talk, if you’re feeling under stress tell someone about it. If you don’t feel that you can openly discuss how you’re feeling with family, friends or a work colleague you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 from any phone.

Do you know what the stress factors are in your business? Do you know how to deal with them?

If you are worried about an employee and don’t know how to deal with it or if you think you may have identified an area of your business that may be a cause of stress and want help in putting it right then please get in touch and we will be more than happy to talk to you.

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