Stress also is known as Stressors refers to the state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding situations.
What causes stress?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines stress as a reaction people may have when presented with demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities, which then challenges their ability to cope with these demands and pressures related to their job.
According to The WHO, stress could occur in a wide range of work circumstances, but the situation could worsen when employees experience a lack of control over their role and support from superiors and work colleagues.
In the UK, stress accounted for 35% of work-related health illness cases –
In relation to this topic of discussion, the 2nd of November brings us National Stress Awareness Day!
Yet another great initiative was taken by National Health Services employees together with the International Stress Management Association, UK. The collaboration aims to develop a greater understanding of stress management and the risks to both public and business organizations, offering access to information and strategies to cope with stress-related illnesses at work and life.
Ignoring stress not only leads to health conditions such as depression, heart diseases, Alzheimer’s and even gastrointestinal problems.
The effect of stress -psychologically though might not seem obvious, it could be as serious as any other physically induced stress conditions.
As a business organization in the UK, employers have “a duty of care” to protect the welfare of all their employees at work. There are many proven methods that could be practised in the management of stress-related illnesses.
The Health and Safety Executive is an independent organization which helps employers to carry out risk assessments to identify these risk factors:-
- Role of the employee– unsure in terms of expectations and job security
- Demands of their role – too many jobs assigned, playing different roles
- Control they have over their job role and demands are little to none
- The support they receive from their superiors, work colleagues – relating to the above
- Relationships with colleagues at work – the ability to delegate jobs with other team members or even ask for support or guidance
- Change at work – this could relate to a role, demands and/or event management
You can provide your employees with the right support at the earliest possible by:-
- Implementing the Standards by the HSE and Work Regulations
- Adhere to risk management procedures to show a duty of care
- Reviewing and training employees more frequently to support their job roles and demands
- One-to-one discussions with their managers to create action plans to reduce stress by ensuring job role and addressing unreasonable demands
- Create a friendlier work atmosphere among superior and colleagues
Leading a physically active lifestyle is highly beneficial not only for a fit body but also a healthy mind.
Try these exercises during your lunchtime or even while taking short breaks at work :
- Stretches – there are many variations to this exercise. Try standing up tall and stretching your arms above your head whilst still maintaining an aligned back. This is also good to ease backaches!
- Meditation – improves relaxation, relieves stress, stimulates blood circulation and flexibility.
- Brisk walking and jogging – sparks nerve cells in the brain that aids in mental relaxation, dissipate stress hormones and triggers concentration.
- Diaphragmatic breathing – a calming exercise that uses techniques to slow down and improve your stress and anxiety.
Food also plays a major role to keep stress at bay!
Eating a well balanced and nutritious meal could enhance your mind to be focussed and encourage relaxation.
- Green Tea – Theanine in green tea helps to increase relaxation and calms the mind.
- Milk – contains tryptophan, a particular a-amino acid in protein when metabolized converts to mind boosting serotonin
- Nuts – Magnesium helps lower cortisol levels in the body
- Citrus fruits – Vitamin C is a stress-busting antioxidant
- Spinach – rich in Folate; helps produce mood-regulating hormones!
- Dark chocolate – just a square (1.4 ounces) and choose the 70% cocoa variety; contains anandamide – a neurotransmitter that temporarily blocks pain, depression, and stress
Choosing healthy habits such as drinking plenty of water, snacking on fruits and nuts, lots of vegetables and protein feeds the brain to function better throughout the day and focus on and out of work.
Prevent stress simply by making a few switches to aid a healthy lifestyle and incorporate exercises to stay active!
LEAD A Healthy and Active Lifestyle and TRAIN your MIND to be STRESS-Free!
Stress at work quick tips
Identify your stress triggers. – then you can think about what to do to manage these triggers better.
Get organized. – make a list of jobs to do, prioritize these tasks and tackle only one task at a time. Alternating the boring tasks with the interesting ones may help motivation.
Take regular breaks. – If you feel as though things are getting on top of you, take a break from work and leave the working environment. A change of scenery for a short walk or hydration break can help to re-energize you.
Sort out your stresses. – Evaluating what stresses you so that you can do something about it and identify those that you can’t. This will help you to formulate a stress -less action plan.
Relax. – try to practice healthy activities that calm your body and mind. Massage and meditation can work wonders for stress.
Avoid smoking and alcohol. – these can leave you feeling depressed and are detrimental to your health.
Get a different perspective. – discussing your problems with somebody else can give you new ideas and opinions about your problems and how to deal with them. Sharing your thoughts can also calm you down and help you feel relaxed.
List what’s new and good. – make a list of what you’ve achieved and what is good in your life. Add to the list regularly and give it a read when you need a boost.
Eat healthily and be active. – This will boost the bodies feel good hormones which help relieve stress.
Have fun. – Making time for hobbies and things you enjoy both in and out of work will improve happiness.
Physical Activity simply means any bodily movement required to produce and expend energy.
Being physically inactive causes adverse health implications and increases the risks of many illnesses including coronary heart disease, stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and even certain types of cancers!
It is highly recommended, for an adult to exercise at least 4 times a week, for 20 to 30 minutes, per day.
However, most people still struggle to fit in any kind of physical activity. The most popular reasons I hear – too busy, hectic schedules, chasing deadlines and running errands in and out of work i.e. no time for exercise!
Being complacent to – one is not overweight or unfit hence does not require to be physically active, is also another excuse not to incorporate exercise into your life.
Most illnesses begin at the workplace. A slight backache, ignored and soon develops and causes major injuries to the spinal code.
The key is to obtain good knowledge on the importance of an active lifestyle and addressing the benefits of incorporating exercises in your everyday life.
This is where as an employer, you step in to promote the health benefits and importance of physical activity at your workplace. You can easily access this information pertaining to health and fitness at your local medical centres, libraries, and the internet.
You can start by encouraging your employees to practice these simple exercises at work:-
Leg Extension – While seated, grab the side of your chair for support and extend your legs straight so its parallel to the floor. Flex and point your toes 5 – 10 times. Relax and continue this repetition 3 times. This exercise works the legs and abs!
Chair Dip – Hold onto the edge of your chair with both hands whilst seated. Bend your knees, slowly slide off the chair and lower your body, with your arms supporting your body weight. Straighten your arms for a count of two and repeat 12 times. Works the triceps!
The Stair Master – Simply use the stairs instead of the lift. Try two steps at a time for a full body workout that strengthens, tones and sculpts your core muscles!
As an employer, it is your responsibility to acknowledge the risks of physical inactivity and bring awareness to your employees.
There are several ways you can engage your employees in physical activity:-
- Lead by example – be a role model that your employees want to follow
- Make being healthy and a fit lifestyle an essential job requirement
- Practice simple office workouts as above
- Invite your employees to participate in outdoor activities
- Perks of being active – free memberships for your employees at the local gym
- Allowances – Encourages cycle or walk to work with colleagues
- Encourage employees to take swimming lessons to strengthen and correct posture to enhance their physical activity
- Short distance jogging and/or power walking during lunch breaks
- Encourage employees to use stairs instead of the lift
Many leading business corporations in the UK, participate in fun activities together for their local and charity events to bring health awareness to the public.
This is another way you can encourage your employees to lead an active lifestyle. It also highly benefits both you and your employees in achieving:-
- A better public image – a great opportunity to play the role model to other companies
- Increase in productivity – being physically active helps to de-stress and keeps the mind focussed which in turn allows room for innovative and creative ideas
- Less absenteeism – helps prevent industrial injuries and staff turnover as employees are healthier and less prone to fall ill and helps them to recover sooner
- Job satisfaction – working in a healthy environment contributes to happier staff and a positive working atmosphere, increasing self-esteem and confidence in completing their workload
- Profitability – all of the above adds to the value of the organization as a whole, enabling to achieve company target through the workmanship of its now, healthier and fitter employees.
All it takes is a few minutes every day to be physically active, to make a huge difference that contributes to your health and wellbeing. And your body and mind will thank you for it!
DONT make excuses, Make Time for Exercise!
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“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty”. ~ Maya Angelou.