Before we look at how a stress management course can help, it’s important to know what effect stress has on us and some of the ways we can manage stress at work, so you can make sure you - or your staff - are always in the best place.
How Does Stress Affect Your Work?
While a certain amount of stress can be helpful in keeping staff focused on a task or goal - especially when a deadline is approaching - over a longer period of time it can have more serious effects. Managing stress is essential to keeping staff healthy and in a good place. Without the right support, stressed employees can:
Show a lack of motivation
Have difficulty concentrating
Suffer from poor productivity
Allow more errors to appear in their work
Enter into conflicts more easily.
Even one of these effects can be really damaging for an employee, team, or business, but when more are added, it can quickly have a very noticeable result on efficiency, wellbeing, and revenue.
Why Do You Need Good Managing Stress Techniques?
There are a range of ways to manage stress. Depending on the personality, attitude and preferences of the stressed employee, some will work better than others. It’s important to have a range of stress management techniques so that if one doesn’t work, or is unable to be used at a specific time, other options are available.
Managing stress techniques can provide in-the-moment relief, such as deep breathing exercises, or take a long-term approach to improve how someone feels, like a better diet or more exercise. A combination of both of these will have the best results, as staff can act when the stress gets too much for them while knowing that other aspects of their lives are less stressful and they have an escape.
What Happens If You Don’t Manage Stress At Work?
Knowing how to manage stress at work will help keep employees in a better position to do the work you expect them to do.
Not only will a stressed employee suffer at work, but the stress will spread to their personal life. This means less enjoyment in their free time, and it starts a vicious cycle that means they feel unable to relax or enjoy themselves at any time. This will affect their sleep, hobbies, and social interactions with friends and family, too.
By the time they come to work the next day, they’ll be in a worse mood and everything will keep adding up. This makes knowing how to manage stress at work essential, as employees spend a large portion of their life in a work environment.
Common Causes Of Stress At Work
Every workplace or job has stressors. Some are big, while others seem insignificant until they start adding up to something more tangible. If left unchecked or not addressed, then what might be an easy to fix problem turns into something much harder to deal with. Not managing stress means little conflicts can bubble and simmer away beneath the surface, which affects the mood of other employees or team members.
While the actual stressors vary from job to job, and workplace to workplace, there are some that can appear in every organisation. Knowing what these are can help you manage stress at work and ensure you get the most out of your employees.
Possibly one of the biggest causes of stress in the workplace revolves around pay. Every business will want to get the best value out of their staff, and employees will always push to be paid more for the work they do.
In most cases, this can be resolved with frank discussions, market research, economic forecasts, and compromises on both sides - or the employee might leave for a better paid job.
If these discussions can’t or don’t happen, staff will feel neglected and stressed about their financial situation, which will impact their work and personal lives. It will lead to grumbling and discontent, which will spread to other employees like wildfire. Nip this in the bud and managing stress that comes from it will be easier.
Excessive Or Inconsistent Workloads
Workloads should be clear from the moment an employee starts. The job role should identify what an employee has to do as part of their role, as this certainty reduces the stress someone can feel. This can change over time as the employee develops and the business changes, but making sure any changes are explained and documented will help with managing stress levels.
Ad hoc or last-minute tasks that seem to come out of nowhere can put pressure on staff when deadlines are already looming. If this has to be done, make sure deliverables are discussed in regards to the additional work and what was originally planned or scheduled.
If inconsistent or excessive work causes stress, then watch for the other end of the scale with tasks an employee doesn’t find challenging or engaging. It might seem strange to think this could cause stress, but it can.
Work that isn’t challenging brings stress because the employee feels they can do more and aren’t able to show or prove it. It can also make other staff feel like they’re overworked in comparison. Managing stress caused by this can keep a team or business harmonious.
Lack Of Progression
For a lot of employees, career progression is an important part of choosing to work for a business. They want to know they have a path forward that will develop their skills and experience to reach their goals. If this doesn’t happen, and there’s no clear discussions around why, then it can cause a lot of stress.
To manage stress at work, look at what your staff want to achieve and whether there are roadblocks stopping that from happening. Taking pre-emptive action shows your staff you value them and want them to succeed. This helps stop them from becoming stressed in the first place, but shows you value them - which boosts their productivity.
Unclear Instructions Or Targets
With any job, project, or task, clarity goes a long way to ensuring success. Setting out what’s involved, what the output should look like, who’s involved, duration, and deadline, are essential pieces of information an employee needs to operate effectively. The same goes for targets or goals - and what needs to be done to meet them.
Some people might thrive off vague instructions, or look forward to doing a task their own way, but thought should be taken on the impact that approach might have on others. For other staff, it can cause a lot of stress as they’re unsure if what they’re doing is right, or whether they’ll be reprimanded for it. Discuss with employees the best approach and offer support when needed to help with managing stress they experience.
How A Stress Management Course Can Help
All of the tips and ideas below can help manage stress at work or at home, but there are more resources out there that can help when stress builds up. A stress management course is a great way to engage with others in a similar situation, who experience stress and want to know how to handle it, or want to ensure their friends, colleagues, or staff have a better support network in place.
A training course might look at stress as a whole and the different stress management techniques for dealing with it, which also helps with understanding why it is caused, but other courses can help with different stressors in the first place. This can include Personal & Time Effectiveness, The Motivation Toolkit, Building Resilience, and many more. Depending on the needs of the individual, a range of courses can help with managing stress or the different factors that contribute to it.
How To Manage Stress At Work
Knowing the different stressors that can impact staff is essential to managing stress. This allows you, or employees themselves, to make sure they don’t feel overwhelmed or suffer from some of the negative effects stress can bring about.
To manage stress at work, there are several strategies or practices that can be put in place to help everyone enjoy a better workplace and work life. Some require collaboration between management and staff, while some have a calming effect on others that can spread when stress levels start to rise.
Set Realistic Goals And Expectations
The first thing to do to manage stress at work is to set realistic goals and expectations for all employees. This begins on the first day of their employment, from outlining their responsibilities and tasks through to codes of conduct, workplace rules, and much more. This makes people feel at ease, and tells them what they need to know to succeed.
While it’s normal for things to change over time, discussions with employees can help put doubts and anxiety to rest when this comes up. Use weekly meetings to make sure expectations are clear, and keep on top of goals and targets. This means excessive stress or pressure is dealt with quickly and the delivered outcomes are expected.
Practise Relaxation Techniques
In the heat of the moment, managing stress isn’t always easy. It can be a last minute task that interferes with other deadlines, a discussion with a colleague that gets heated, or any other number of stressors. In these situations, having good managing stress techniques is the best way to move forward.
Relaxation techniques can help when stress builds to high levels very quickly. The easiest one to use is deep breathing:
Loosen any clothes that restrict breathing
Place both feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart
Take a deep, gentle breath through your nose
Bring the breath as deep into your belly as possible
Do this over a 1-5 count, or for as long as is comfortable
Breathe out over a 1-5 count, or for as long as is comfortable
Do this for 5 minutes.
With no equipment needed, and because it can be done anywhere, this is one of the best relaxation techniques to manage stress at work.
Assertiveness in the workplace can be hard to get right. You don’t want to be overbearing or come across as rude and impossible to work with, but you need to be able to get your point across and set boundaries for yourself. This can help manage stress at work by making sure staff are not overworked or suffering from a colleague’s behaviour.
Being assertive is a tricky balance, as it can have an impact on professional relationships at work, as well as productivity. Being clear about your capabilities, wellbeing and boundaries will reduce stress and help make the workplace a better environment. The Assertive Professional and Assertive Professional online training courses can help with this.
Avoid Unhealthy Habits
A go-to for many people when they’re stressed is smoking, coffee, or another drink. It’s seen as a way to get away from the situation and take a few minutes to de-stress. While the action of leaving and taking a few moments to breathe, calm down, and reflect on what’s happened can help, smoking contains nicotine and many of our favourite drinks contain caffeine - and these substances don’t help us relax.
A good way of managing stress is to swap these habits with healthier options, such as deep breathing or a short walk to get some exercise. It stops people relying on chemicals that might not always be available, and there’s no adding to the stress the body already feels in these moments.
One of the worst things anyone can do is bottle up stress. This makes it feel worse than it is, and without talking about the problem, there’s no way to find a solution for it. To manage stress at work, there should be a suitable support network that can help staff find the best ways to handle it.
Whether that’s through management meetings, HR, or wellbeing programmes, there are different ways to provide the right support to staff and make sure stress doesn’t impact their health and work.
Managing Stress Outside Of Work
While knowing how to manage stress at work helps, work life and personal life impact each other. Managing stress outside of work will make time spent at work much better for every employee, and the reverse is also true. Knowing how to manage stress at work and in all parts of life will help people enjoy their work and free time more.
The same strategies and tips from earlier can be used at home with some small changes, but there’s more you can do. The following managing stress techniques will help, and we recommend trying them all.
Adopt A Healthy Diet
Food and drink can have a huge impact on the health and lifestyle of an employee. While telling people what to do is frowned upon, showing them alternatives and the benefits they can bring can be helpful for a lot of people. Healthy diets can help the body stay in better shape, and better at managing stress and the physical effects it can have.
Fresh fruit and vegetables, balanced meals, and plenty of water can have a great impact on anyone. Sugar is a part of this but too much can become as much of a problem as caffeine or alcohol. Making staff aware of the benefits of a better diet can help, as can showcasing healthy recipes, cooking tips, and more, which removes some of the barriers people might have about changing their lifestyles.
Get Enough Exercise
For some people, the word exercise means marathons and gym sessions - and that’s not for them. Exercise is one of the best stress management techniques available, and it can be as simple as going for a walk. Making this a part of the daily routine can help people feel more relaxed, but even a short trip around the block or local park can help with managing stress when it builds.
Walking, jogging, running, swimming, cycling, gym sessions - whatever people feel they enjoy or are willing to do - can all have a positive impact on the body through the release of endorphins while reducing adrenaline and cortisol. General fitness will also improve, which has even further benefits.
Dedicate Time For Hobbies And Interests
Everyone has different interests and things they’d like to spend more time doing. People who enjoy going to the gym will already feel the benefit of managing stress, but doing anything enjoyable will have a similar effect.
Whether it’s exploring nature, listening to music, reading a book, watching a show, film, or performance, there are so many activities and hobbies that can reduce stress. If people don’t have the time or the energy to do these things, they’ll feel worn out and unmotivated, and this has an impact at work and at home. Playing games, painting, writing, and other creative outlets provide a sense of accomplishment, too, and this can help the mind stay sharp and focused while being enjoyable.
Make Sure To Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is important. That much has been proven through research and studies over the years, and it has a big impact on managing stress, too. On average, people need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night to wake up refreshed and ready for the day ahead.
Without enough sleep, people can be easily irritated, lack energy, lose focus and concentration, and much more. This makes all aspects of life harder than it needs to be, and stress builds up quicker than it would do otherwise. Getting enough sleep each night plays a huge part in managing stress.
Learn More About Managing Stress To Help Your Career
Jobs and workplaces can be stressful, but part of the reason why we can feel overwhelmed is not knowing how to manage stress at work and reduce it in healthy and effective ways. As stress can affect our professional and personal lives, these are essential skills to know. A stress management course can help with managing stress, and this will help their career development.
If you’re not overwhelmed or overstressed, you’ll be able to focus better on what needs to be done. This makes you more efficient and able to take on the increasing responsibilities that come with more senior or specialised roles. Find out more about our stress management courses or contact our team today to find out what we can do to help with managing stress.