Managing stress

Stress is a normal part of life: those feelings of being tense and worried happen to everyone. In moderation and in the short-term, stress can even be helpful in getting us fired up to meet a deadline or try something new.

Becoming over-stressed, however, can be quite harmful. Physically it can induce symptoms like headaches, insomnia, muscle tension and high blood pressure, and for mental health it can appear through feelings of anger, moodiness, low self-esteem and difficulty concentrating. Prolonged high stress is also a risk factor for developing depression and anxiety disorders.

Below are some practical tips to help you effectively manage stress while you’re at work.

Get to know your signs

It can be difficult to recognise the mental signs of stress until it’s at an extreme level, but with practice it’s possible to learn. Being mindful of self-talk, as well as the physical signs of stress, is hugely important in catching the onset of stress early and preventing it from becoming debilitating.

Establish good relationships

Having good social support and strong relationships at work can be a great protector against mental health problems, so where possible, try to foster these relationships.

Avoid peer pressure

Peer pressure continues into adulthood, and the workforce is its prime habitat. Worrying what others think if you’re the last one into the office or the first to leave can be a stressor. Looking after your wellbeing is the priority.

Tell others your limits

It may be difficult to say no to your manager or workmates, but you do need to be realistic about your time to help avoid the stress of being over-loaded. It’s not only about knowing your own boundaries, but letting others know them too.

Look out for each other

Spending so much time with your colleagues each week makes it a prime time to notice if any mental stress is hitting them. If you see others in your team looking stressed—agitated, tense, talking at a hundred miles an hour—then have a chat. Check in with that person to see how they’re going and how the pressure can be eased.

Take regular breaks

Set up routines like a reminder on your computer to take a break, stretch or get a drink of water, to allow your mind and body to reconnect and recharge. If you can take some breaks outside, that’s an even better stress reliever for both your body and your mind.

Breathe

Take 10 or 20 seconds to notice your breathing and your body will automatically start to breathe more deeply from your diaphragm. This is stress relief at its fastest.

Additional Resources

Staying mentally healthy at work - http://www.headsup.org.au/taking-care-of-myself-at-work/staying-mentally-healthy-at-work

Workplace relationships and stress - http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/docs/WorkplaceWellbeing.pdf

Managing stress tips - http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/docs/19.StressHintstoAvoidHarmfulStress.pdf

Stress as a trigger of depression - http://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression/what-causes-depression