6 ways to reduce workplace stress

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Don’t let the daily grind get you down

There are no two ways about it; a lot of us go to work so we can continue to pay the bills, buy some shiny things and stay out of debt.

To achieve this ideal, stress has been accepted in a lot of workplaces as the norm. How can we keep our stress levels under control?

The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) says that it’s very important to have a healthy work-life balance. Research suggests that an increasingly demanding work culture in the UK is perhaps the biggest challenge to the mental health and wellbeing of the general population.

Retail therapy and other symptoms of stress

The problem with stress it that people don’t always know how best to deal with it. They might bottle it up, lash out at loved ones, or indulge in ‘retail therapy’ to take their mind off whatever’s bothering them.

Estimates from the Labour Force Survey show that out of all reported work-related illness in 2011/12, 40% was due to stress. Back in 2005, research by the Health and Safety Executive found that 15% of all working individuals thought their job was very or extremely stressful.

If you suspect that you’re suffering from work-related stress, fear not. We’ve got some handy hints to keep you stress free and in control.

Look on the bright side

This might sound a bit airy-fairy, but much of your stress could be down to how you look at things. If you dislike your current job, concentrate on the positives, no matter how small you think they are.

Maybe you’ve made great friends in your office, or you have a good pension your company pays into. You might have the opportunity to do overtime for some extra cash – not everyone does! Maybe you live really close to your work so you don’t have a huge commute to get there, or you have a manager who appreciates your hard work. All of these are great things worth focusing on.

There’s a great article on Hubpages that talks all about the benefits of keeping positive in your day to day worklife. Zen Habits also helps you focus on what’s important

Break your day up into bitesize pieces

How many times in your life have you felt stressed or anxious in the lead up to something? When logging on to Facebook on a Sunday evening, I’ve noticed a good number of my Facebook friends say they feel ‘the Monday fear’. This is the stress they feel when they think of the seemingly endless tasks that await them at work.

Leadership coach Jason Womack recommends that you break your day up into manageable chunks of time. Fifteen minutes is usually just enough time to do many daily tasks such as writing an email, serving customers, making a phone call or updating a spreadsheet. Allocating your ‘business as usual’ tasks this way means that you’ll blast through them a whole lot quicker.

Get some ‘you time’

On your next lunch break, go for a walk and get a change of scenery. Doing this may give your mind a rest and prevent mental fatigue. If you’re worried you’ll be tempted to boredom shop then seek out a scenic route like a local park.

The simple act of getting lost in a good book at lunchtime can rejuvenate a bored or stressed mind. I always bring a book with me to read on my lunch break –  as thriller author Stephen King says “a good story is an escape hatch”. You don’t need to buy books either. You could join your local library, start a book club with your colleagues or download a classic book for free from the likes of Project Gutenburg.

Open your mind, open new doors

Blues singer B.B. King once said that “the beautiful thing about learning is that no one can ever take it away from you.” Always be willing to learn and try new things that come your way. If you make your job the focal point of your life, you’ll have no escape from the stress it may bring.

Taking up a hobby or looking into something that interests you means that you’re keeping your mind active and you have something else to do after work, something that resonates with you. Joining that local French language evening class or reading that book on screenwriting is your declaration to the world that you want and deserve something better.

Doing or learning something new doesn’t have to cost anything. Subscribe to blogs that specialise in the things that interest and excite you (use an online tool like Feedly so you’ll know when there’s a new post to read) Or get on YouTube and watch tutorial videos. There’s so much out there on the web to inspire you.

Pickthebrain has an article detailing how the most successful people in life never stop learning. One of them could be you.

Keep on moving

As I’m sure you’ve no doubt heard, exercise and a healthy diet is a great way to deal with stress in all aspects of life. This is this year’s focal message from our friends at the Mental Health Foundation, and they have some brilliant tips on how best to keep moving and keep the pressures of life under control.

Read how to keep fit and healthy on a tight budget.

Don’t ignore it, deal with it

If you find that your stress is getting worse every day, then you should consider talking to someone you trust, be that your HR department, your doctor, a work colleague. Many employers have plans in place to give you all the help and support you need if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Getting it off your chest will not only do wonders for your stress levels but can also mean that you focus on making important changes for the better.

How do you tell others to deal with work-related stress? How have you dealt with it yourself? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page.

Rachel Connor has been with the charity for over 8 years, starting in Helpline before joining the MoneyAware team in 2012. Rach enjoys travelling, video games, watching anime, reading and creative writing in her spare time (currently writing a Young Adult fantasy series). She had a previous life as head writer on Cartoon Network's Ed Edd n Eddy and as a copywriter for LivingSocial. She's also written comics and graphic novels for the animated series Regular Show.

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