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Turn your work stress into accomplishments

Stress at work


Many people at work suffer with stress, depression and anxiety. In fact, sometimes these mental health problems are triggered by work alone.

Quite often, this can leave you feeling as if you don’t have the skills you need to accomplish what you set out to do. This is usually because stress, anxiety and depression can cause you to worry, and even fear typical daily tasks.

Some tasks at work that many people admit to worrying about include
  • Taking meetings
  • Achieving deadlines
  • Building relationships with your co-workers
  • Getting on with your manager
  • Maintaining quality work
Here is how you can learn to conquer some of your stress and anxieties at work, and turn them into accomplishments…
  1. Make a numbered list of tasks you need to accomplish that day, ordered from most important to least important. Tackle this list in small chunks – one task at a time.
  2. Focus on building positive and transparent relationships with your supervisor and other co-workers. It means that you have people you can trust and rely on, and who you feel comfortable enough to ask for help when you need it, rather than suffer in silence.
  3. Get into the habit of communicating in person as much as possible. The more you do something, the easier it becomes. Also, a lot can be misinterpreted or misunderstood over phone calls and emails which does not help you progress.
  4. Avoid office politics. This can be difficult when it feels as if it’s surrounding you everywhere you look. However, drama only tends to increase anxiety, giving you one more thing to worry about.
  5. Be realistic with your workload. It is very common now to say ‘yes’ to every project and every favour your boss asks of you. Over-committing to tasks and biting off more than you can chew will surely see you failing to stick to deadlines.
  6. Progress reports. These don’t have to be official, it can simply be a weekly conversation. It is good to keep people in the loop throughout the progress and delivery of a project. That way, if you encounter difficulties, people are on hand to help you out as they have the knowledge to assist or advise.
  7. Find a sense of peace at work. I wrote a post last week about sensory experience which has proven effective in easing stress. For some, sound is most effective so listening to music at work can help. If taste helps you, it could be chewing gum, or for sight, it could help to work by a window or carry a photograph that calms your mind.
  8. Talk to someone about your worries. It’s an old saying but ‘a problem shared is a problem half-solved’ still rings very true. Sometimes you’ll find that others feel the same way. Nearly all the time, you’ll feel so much better getting something off your chest, knowing you don’t have to struggle with it alone.

Depression at Work

Now, depression at work is a separate issue – whether this is personal or career-focused. Depression can cause you to feel unworthy, unmotivated and as if you can’t accomplish the things you want to. The best way to tackle depression is creating a lifestyle that helps you cope with it. It’s about focusing on how you want to feel, rather than how you feel right now.

The American Psychiatric Association lists these symptoms of depression, which any or all can be an indicator that you’re experiencing depression.

  • You’ve lost interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Your appetite has changed
  • You have trouble sleeping
  • You find it difficult to focus
  • You lack energy
  • You think about death and/or suicide

If you feel depressed at work, it can become such a struggle to keep performance levels high and to maintain healthy relationships with your supervisor and co-workers, which can make you feel even worse.

Yet, this is a place that you have to come to five days to a week, so it’s important to know how you can tackle this on a daily basis…
  1. Find out what your company can offer you. Many organisations offer free counselling to their employees. If you bring this up with the HR department, they should be able to direct you to the person or place that will best be of help and that is why we offer a nationwide employee counselling service which provides workplace stress and trauma support services to industry.
  2. Make your workspace more personal. Most people who struggle with depression, anxiety or stress, don’t feel as bad when they’re in the comfort of their own home. Being in the workplace itself can cause feelings of dread for people, before they’ve even begun tackling deadlines and presentations. Bring photographs in to stand on your desk, hang artwork or arrange plants. Something so little can be a huge comfort.
  3. Take breaks often enough. Exposure to daylight, even in the winter months, is thought to lift our mood. Take yourself for a walk outside. A brisk walk might even result in the release of endorphins – natural mood-boosting pain-killers!
  4. Incorporate exercise into your daily routine. When you feel depressed, the last thing you want to do is work out. However, exercise is good for the mind, heart and soul. It can also be extra beneficial if you recruit a workout buddy from the workplace. This is great for accountability and can help you combat feelings of sadness.
  5. Make more use of your lunch break. Whether this is the time you’ll fit in your work out or a walk, or perhaps you’ll take some coworkers out for lunch, You can try new restaurants or coffee shops, and the company will help to take your mind off feeling sad.
  6. When things start to feel worse, it can be extremely beneficial to leave work early or to book a few days off to relax, rest and rejuvenate. You can come back after a much needed break, perhaps even feeling more productive and motivated.

By using the tips above, you can help to manage your stress, anxiety and depression at work, and to turn that negative energy into accomplishments.

As workplaces are beginning to witness for themselves the success of wellbeing initiatives, and with the stigma around mental health slowly being reduced, Mental Health First Aiders modular training is becoming a popular choice. There is on-going modular training offered, covering issues such as workplace bullying, stress, change and resilience. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about this training.

The tips in this article won’t completely solve your problems, but they will lessen the impact on your personal and professional life


Carole Spiers

Carole is the CEO of a leading UK stress management and wellbeing consultancy. She is a BBC Guest-broadcaster and author of Show Stress Who’s Boss! Carole is an international Motivational Speaker and is regularly called upon by the national press and media for comment. She is Chair of the International Stress Management Association [UK], founder of Stress Awareness Day, Fellow and Past President of the Professional Speaking Association, London. www.carolespiers.co.uk



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