Stress At Work And How To Deal With It

Ever had that feeling that work is like being on a never-ending treadmill … and that weekends are way too short to properly get off? If so, you’re not alone. Lots of things can contribute to high levels of stress and, unfortunately, work is one of them. The teaching profession, for example, boasts one of the highest levels of stress. A recent article in the Guardian, for example, states that 1 in 83 teachers (which equates to 3,750) are on long-term leave for stress and mental health issues. Teachers have also taken 1.3 million days off sick for stress and mental health issues in the last 4 years. As one teacher puts it:

“It’s a relentless hamster wheel with minute by minute stress. You wake up in the night with your mind filled with 30 children who mean so much to you. You want the best for them, you want them to do well and be safe and happy. And so the list scrolls in your head of all the things that have to be done before they arrive at 8.50 in the morning”

Of course, the education sector doesn’t have a monopoly on stress.

The 10 most stressful jobs in the UK are said to be the following:

  • Prison officer
  • Police officer
  • Social worker
  • Teacher
  • Ambulance driver
  • Nurse
  • Doctor
  • Firefighter
  • Dentist
  • Miner

Find out how stressed you are: 

How well do you handle stress in your life?

  • I have people I confide in when I’m feeling under pressure who make me feel better.
  •  I feel comfortable expressing how I feel when something is bothering me.
  • In general, I feel in control of my life and confident in my ability to handle what comes my way.
  • I find reasons to laugh and feel grateful, even when going through difficulties.
  • No matter how busy I am, I make it a priority to sleep, exercise, and eat right.
  • I’m able to calm myself down when I start to feel overwhelmed.
  • Each “yes” answer represents an important stress coping skill. Each “no” represents an area to work on to become more resilient.

    It’s important to be able to express how you feel, to have support, and to stay positive – that much is clear. BUT … workplaces have a responsibility as well for keeping staff happy and healthy. It’s good to be positive but, workplace stress is not just a personal thing, it’s political too.

    And it makes sense for business – the NHS’s Chief Medical Officer claimed recently that mental health issues, including workplace stress led to the loss of 70 million working days a year, costing the economy between £70-100 billion annually.

    In fact, employers have a statutory responsibility to ensure the health and well-being of their employees. It is worth, therefore, talking to managers about what they can do to minimise stress and promote good mental health in the workplace. Often this is not just about implementing particular courses or activities but by making sure that the atmosphere at work is one of support and teamwork – workplace culture is the main reason that staff feel stressed or even bullied.

    What can you do yourself to minimise work stress?

    • Firstly, remember that, while work is important, it is only one part of your life – try to make time for other activities and relaxation – achieve a balance.
    • Try some activities which are specifically aimed towards relaxation. These might include hypnotherapy, meditation, mindfulness or yoga.
    • Try to leave work behind when you exit the office. You are paid for your working hours – not paid to think about work while you are at home!
    • Every so often, do a mental re-think about your working practices – what works well for you and what is causing unnecessary stress and overload. It’s easy to get into unproductive habits but your time is precious!
    • New research suggests that flexible working has helped to combat employee stress, it could be worth having a discussion with your employer to see if flexible working would be an option. 
    • If you're a manager at work and you're looking to help minimise work stress, see how can managers help employees deal with stress.