Today’s business leaders and employees consistently face extreme work-related stress, including hefty workloads, budgetary constraints, work-from-anywhere issues, and cybersecurity worries.
These ever-increasing pressures of the job have led to deteriorating mental health, addiction issues, and even suicidal tendencies. And the COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified this stress.
In fact, a recent survey of more than 1,200 employees from SilverCloud Health found that nine in 10 workers believe the pandemic has increased their stress levels. The survey also found that 80 percent of those with depression and anxiety have experienced a greater need for mental health treatment during COVID-19. And a recent report from wellness provider, Grokker, found that three-quarters of today’s employees are experiencing some level of stress.
Given the numerous challenges that leaders and employees faced this past year, it is no surprise that a large number feel incredibly anxious and overwhelmed. So what can we do to manage our work-related stress? Let’s take a closer look:
The American Psychological Association (APA) Offers Helpful Advice
To tackle the ever-growing issue of stress management, the American Psychological Association (APA) recently released information on stress management for the workforce, which provides numerous actions and activities that can be used to cope with stress. Practicing just one to two changes can have a significant compound effect over time. Suggestions from the APA include the following:
*Be aware of the physical warning signs of stress: Stiff muscles, headaches, teeth grinding, and stomachaches are all physical reactions to stress. Pay attention to these symptoms and consistently focus on self-care.
*Take breaks: Pausing to reset and focus is very important when you feel overwhelmed. Adopt a routine of 5- to 10-minute breaks each hour to assess your stress signals and emotional needs.
*Focus on self-care: Leaders and employees need to recharge, recover, and stay fueled. Movement and exercise is necessary for improving mood and physical well-being. Restorative activities include outdoor recreation, mediation, deep breathing, maintaining a proper diet, and talking with friends and family.
*Don’t forget about sleep: Getting enough sleep, as well as good sleep quality, can be tricky with huge workloads, extended working hours, and intense demands. A pre-bedtime wind-down routine includes turning off all devices, refraining from listening to the news, reading a book, listening to soothing music, and taking a warm shower to cool the body’s temperature.
*Build a sense of control: Leaders can better cope with uncertainty and anxiety by building a sense of control among their teams. Blocking time to check in with employees helps keep moods and outlooks positive, which fosters communication, trust, transparency, and relationships.
Words of Wisdom from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
According to the CDC, how individuals cope with emotions and work-related stress greatly affects your well being, the well being of the people you care about, your workplace, and your community.
As a result, it is critical to recognize exactly what stress looks like, take steps to build your resilience and manage job stress, and know where to go if you need help. The CDC suggests the following advice for managing stress in today’s business world:
*Recognize the symptoms of stress you may be experiencing:
–Feeling irritation, anger, or denial
–Feeling uncertain, nervous, or anxious
–Feeling tired, overwhelmed, or burned out
–Feeling sad or depressed
–Having trouble sleeping
–Having trouble concentrating
*Follow these tips to build resilience and manage job stress:
–Communicate with your coworkers, supervisors, and employees about job stress
–Identify issues that cause stress and work together to identify solutions.
–Talk openly with employers and employees about how the pandemic is affecting work. Expectations should be communicated clearly by everyone.
–Helping others improves your sense of control, belonging, and self-esteem. Look for ways to offer social support to others, especially if they are showing signs of stress, such as depression and anxiety.
–Identify the things you do not have control over and do the best you can with the resources available to you.
–Increase your sense of control by developing a consistent daily routine when possible — ideally one that is similar to your schedule before the pandemic. This routine can include the following:
—Keeping a regular sleep schedule
—Taking breaks from work to stretch, exercise, or check in with your colleagues, coworkers, family, and friends.
—Spending time outdoors, either being physically active or relaxing.
—When working from home, set a regular time to end your work for the day
—Consistently practice mindfulness
—Do things you enjoy during your non-work hours
If you feel you may be misusing alcohol or other drugs (including prescription drugs) as a means of coping, reach out for help.
If you are being treated for a mental health condition, continue with your treatment and be aware of any new or worsening symptoms.
When challenging situations arise in today’s world, there is no question that mental and emotional preparedness is vital. The bottom line is that understanding exactly how to manage work-related stress ultimately promotes well being and mental health.
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