No self-respecting blog is complete without a Ten Top Tips list – and this is ours. Ten Top Tips for managing workplace stress.
1. Focus on the things you can change or influence
The only thing in life that you can directly control is yourself and your decisions. Focus your valuable energy on the things you can change. You might not be able to change the situation you are in, but you can change the way that you respond to it.
2. Learn to let go
We all hold onto things, whether it is possessions, bad habits, relationships or past mistakes. We revisit these things in our head again and again; we don’t need to. We can let go, allowing our feelings of frustration and regret to float away and acceptance and peace to take their place.
Continue reading Ten Top Tips For Managing Workplace Stress
Food can affect our mood in different ways. It can increase our levels of feel-good brain chemicals, it can cause fluctuations in our blood sugar levels and it can create adverse reactions to the artificial additives used in processed food.
Eating a healthy and balanced diet is an essential component to maintaining good mental health, below we have listed 10 foods that have been proven to help boost your levels of happiness:
Continue reading 10 Foods To Make You Happy
Maintaining a work-life balance has grown to mean maintaining a strict separation between your work life and the rest of your life. As technology has developed we bemoan the blurring of that separation seeing it as both the cause and a symptom of stress.
Some of us do jobs where the distinction is an absolute. We work in jobs where we have to be in a certain place during our working hours. We don’t have flexibility or autonomy. But many of us do. We work flexi-time, or part of our time from home, we are in creative roles, we work for ourselves or we are lucky enough to work for an organisation that focuses on our achievements and not the hours we are sat at a desk.
Continue reading Work-Life Balance – moving towards a more integrated approach.
I met up with a friend recently and asked him how his work was going. “Miserable” he replied. He then stopped himself and said: “Do you know, I have to stop doing that. Work is great. I have a good job, I am well paid, and I will get a great pension. But we are all miserable, we have all got in the habit of telling everyone how miserable our jobs are – and it is infectious. You begin to believe it”.
This reminded me of an article I had read recently which talked about how negative thinking in school staff rooms was affecting teachers: “All teachers need the odd whinge, but our workloads and mental health would improve greatly if we stopped mithering and focused on the highlights”.
Yes negative thinking can be infectious, but so can positive thinking. Research has shown that we can change the way that we think, and by doing that we can change the way that we feel and behave. We can learn to see the positives in our day and as a result feel happier and more fulfilled; and – as a bonus, evidence suggests that happier workers are more productive workers and score more highly across all performance indicators.
Here is an exercise that has been shown to help boost your happiness and change negative thinking into more positive thinking:
At the end of each day write down three things that brought you happiness and joy. You may wish to create your own happiness jar – each evening write down the things that made you happy and add them to your jar. When you are feeling low you can read your pieces of paper and remember the moments that brought you joy.
Learn to see through the fog of habitual misery and spot the silver lining.
The German employment minister Andrea Nahles is considering new ‘anti-stress’ legislation, banning companies from contacting employees out of hours. It is already illegal in Germany for employees to contact staff during their holidays.
In France, a deal signed by employers’ federations and unions affecting 250,000 employees require employers to make sure that staff ‘disconnect’ outside of working hours.
But is a blanket ban the right approach for helping us to manage workplace stress?
One of the problems with turning to legislation to help us manage employee mental health is that we are promulgating the myth that the workplace is an innately negative environment that can cause us irreparable damage, and that we, mere helpless employees, need protection from exploitative and draconian bosses.
Yes there is an issue with workplace mental health; 22% of us describe our jobs as extremely or very stressful. Although the research supporting this figure is unclear about whether respondents are using the term ‘stress’ in a negative way (“my work is stressful and it is making me ill”) or whether they are saying it in a neutral way (“my work is stressful but I manage the demands that are made of me”) or in a positive way (“my work is stressful but I am invigorated and motivated by the challenges”).
Stress, the causes of stress and our responses to it are complicated. What causes me untold negative work stress might be perceived by you as a manageable and welcome part of your working day; and what to me might be a much loved part of my job might be a much dreaded element of your job.
We need to tackle workplace stress in four ways (all four elements need to be in place) by:
- Ensuring that protective policies are in place so that there is a clear understanding of our rights and our role within an organisation.
- Encouraging managers to be better at what they do and to lead by example so that they are working in ways that help them to maintain and build their resilience.
- Making sure that we all have the training and the knowledge to help us build our resilience and manage our mental health.
- Providing easily accessible, evidence-based support for people who are struggling.
Yes legislation is important in that it sets out a framework in which all employers must operate (think minimum wage or working time directives) but it mustn’t be so restrictive that it prevents us from making our own decisions about how we work and it mustn’t buy into this myth that restrictive practices must be put into place to protect a powerless workforce from unscrupulous bosses.