Stress: Are we coping?

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week UK, the Mental Health Foundation published a report on the main elements of stress. As responsible employers, it’s our duty to help our people manage them wherever possible.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week UK, the Mental Health Foundation published a report on the main elements of stress. As responsible employers, it’s our duty to help our people manage them wherever possible.

Put simply, stress is the way our bodies react to external stressors, which differs from person to person.

What happens when we’re stressed?

Most people can deal with certain levels of stress without any lasting problems. If exposure happens too often, or for too long in one go, it can affect us all physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Physical symptoms of stress can vary: sleep patterns, memory and eating habits might change, for example. Some people might experience very low energy levels, and some might turn to alcohol, cigarettes or other substances to relieve symptoms.

Stress in itself is not a mental health issue, but it can be linked with depression, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm.

What stresses us out?

The common reasons for stress are:

  1. Work, including balancing this with demands on our time and energy from home, family, friends, etc.
  2. Money/Finance, including concerns about not being able to cover basic needs, make payments for debt, etc.
  3. Technology and the effects of social media, including comparing yourself and your life to others on social media.

Overall, the report shed light on some alarming figures:

  • Almost three quarters of people have felt so stressed that they were unable to cope.
  • 8% felt stressed all the time
  • Around half a million people across the UK experience work related stress. Most of which stems from feeling underappreciated or ignored in the workplace, and feeling they have having no control over the tasks that cause stress.

How can we manage stress?

Managing and preventing stress can be key to dealing with mental health and general wellbeing. The top 10 things that can help reduce stress are:

  1. Noticing that it’s a problem, identifying the cause(s)
  2. Reviewing your lifestyle: Is there anything you can easily change or reorganise?
  3. Building supportive relationships and networks
  4. Eating healthily
  5. Staying aware of caffeine, drinking and smoking levels
  6. Exercising, even if that’s just walking to work when the weather is nice
  7. Taking time to relax: scheduling some “me-time” is a great way to unwind
  8. Being mindful
  9. Getting plenty of restful sleep
  10. Not being too hard on yourself.

Managing stress at work is important and can play a key role in preventing future mental health issues. It’s important for employers to create healthy working environments, based on good psychosocial working conditions.

This involves balancing work demands through schemes like flexible working, fostering a feeling of individual control by allowing people to define their own career paths, ensuring the work has meaning for everyone involved, and creating a supportive work environment with line managers and mentors where needed.

Like any employer, we still have some way to go, but this week we launched our Europe-wide Mental Health and Wellbeing policy. It’s important to everyone at Text100 that our work environment is as stress-free as possible, and that we tackle any mental health issues cropping up as early and as effectively as possible.

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