Workplace stress: what can you do?

Our 21st century working life brings many pressures. Whether you’re employed, self-employed, running your own business or working to bring up a family, work takes effort. If you’re lucky enough, you’ve found a good balance between work, family and social life and somehow it’s all worth it.

For many, however, working simply brings in an income in exchange for a life full of worry and concern. There’s too much to do, too little time and the reward is not enough. The problem is, we are in difficult economic times so it feels as though you have to carry on regardless.

This is often the essence of workplace stress. It’s surprisingly common. According to the Health and Safety Executive’s website:

  • Over 200,000 new cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety were reported in only 12 months.
  • 10.8 million working days were lost in Britain in 2010/11 due to workplace stress.

So what is stress? In essence it is a situation which triggers the fight or flight response, releasing stress hormones preparing you for instant action. In fact a certain amount of stress is necessary for us to perform well.

Most work situations don’t need instant action and so those stress hormones have nowhere to go. There’s nothing to fight and we can’t run away. The situation doesn’t get resolved and the stress hormones keep on coming. This excessive pressure at work stops being motivating and you find yourself dealing with demands you just cannot meet.

In today’s climate, it can be difficult simply to change your job, so what can you do? Here are some simple but effective tips:

  • Focus your breathing: take a few long, slow breaths. Breath out more slowly than you breathe in. This helps engage your relaxation response, the natural opposite of fight or flight.
  • Find a sense of control: make a point of finding things you can change and begin to change them for the better. Even small changes make a big difference here.
  • Do something every day, just for you.
  • Download and listen to a relaxation mp3.
  • Find a hypnotherapist specialising in stress issues to help you manage stress more positively.

Help is out there. You just have to ask.

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