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Health Promotion Specialist

April 27, 2018

Managing stress in the workplace

1 in every 6 workers in Scotland experiences problems related to mental health or stress. Everyone feels stressed or anxious sometimes. It is a normal part of life. But feeling stressed a lot of the time can be bad for your physical and mental health.

Stress at work can be caused by a number of factors, including workload (too much or too little work), concerns around job security, poor relationships at work, and not having a healthy work-life balance. Struggling to manage these stressful situations can lead to anxiety.

How can stress affect me?

Stress can affect how you feel physically and emotionally. It can also affect how you behave, leading to unhealthy behaviours such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol or eating an unhealthy diet, all of which are risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

Physical effects of stress

Emotional effects of stress

Effects on your behaviour

A racing heart rate

Faster breathing

Feeling sick or dizzy

A dry mouth

Headaches

Loss of appetite

Tense muscles

Restlessness

Feeling tired

Feeling worried or uneasy

Feeling overwhelmed

Feeling frustrated and irritable

Feeling on edge, unable to relax

Feeling tearful and upset

Feeling angry or aggressive

Feeling isolated or lost

Feeling hopeless

Smoking

Drinking more

Forgetting things

Avoiding people and situations

Not making decisions

Finding life harder than usual

Snapping at people

 Managing stress

There are lots of things that you can do yourself to manage your feelings of stress.

  • Learn to relax – people relax in different ways, some prefer to go for a run, practice breathing exercises, read a book or listen to music. Taking some time out for yourself each day to relax can make a difference to your mood and energy levels. Work out what helps you to relax and schedule this into your diary every day. Thought about a digital detox?
  • Be as active as you can – regular physical activity can help to reduce your stress levels and clear your mind. Incorporating some activity into your daily commute is a great way to start or end the day, and a brisk walk around the block at lunchtime can do wonders for your mind-set.
  • Look after yourself – make sure that you take your allocated breaks each day, including a lunchbreak! And try your best to go home on time, try not to get into the habit of staying late each night. If this isn’t possible, speak with your line manager about possible solutions.
  • Talk to someone you trust – this might be a colleague, your line manager or even someone outside of work. Sharing your worries with someone you trust can help you feel less stressed.
  • Try not to do too many things at once – juggling too much can leave you feeling unable to cope. Get more organised and make a list of things you need to do with the most important things first. You can also minimise distractions by turning off emails whilst writing an important document and finishing one thing before moving onto the next!
  • Be mindful – mindfulness is about being aware of your thoughts and feelings in the present moment and can be useful for reducing stress. Find out more about being mindful here.
  • Eat well and stay hydrated – we can all become more irritable and not function as well when we are hungry or dehydrated. Eating well ensures that your body has the right fuel to cope with the stressors of the days. Avoid a ‘working lunch’ and get tips on healthy snacks and ways to stay hydrated in our Live Better Blogs.
  • Get a good night’s sleep – a good night’s sleep is linked to better concentration, good decision making and generally feeling happier and less irritable. Make sure you’re getting the recommended 7- 9 hours’ sleep per night – find out how to get a get a good night’s sleep here!
  • Give back – some people find that focussing their energy on helping others can actually have great benefits on their own happiness and wellbeing. If you feel this might help you, find out about volunteering for CHSS here.

Read our updated ‘Living with Stress and Anxiety’ factsheet with information on where to get additional help.

Other helpful websites

SAMH: How to be mentally healthy at work

See Me Scotland: A mentally healthy workplace

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***Disclaimer: always seek medical advice before starting a new diet, exercise regime or medication. The information in these articles is not a substitute for professional advice from a GP, registered dietitian or other health practitioner.

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