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17 May 2018

Wellbeing in small business: Managing stress in the workplace

Guest blog written by Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing, Mind.

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We all know what it’s like to feel stressed - being under pressure is a normal part of life. But becoming overwhelmed by stress can lead to mental health problems or make existing problems worse.

Taking steps to look after your wellbeing can help you deal with pressure, and reduce the impact that stress has on your life. This is particularly important in the workplace where stresses of workload and working relationships are common.

We recently surveyed 44,000 employees as part of our Workplace Wellbeing Index and found that 82 per cent of respondents with poor mental health said that this was work-related – either due solely to problems at work, or a combination of problems at work and outside of work.

Even though there are likely to be things that you can't control, there are practical things you can do to manage the amount of pressure you're under day to day. The first step is to recognise what triggers you to feel stressed. Even if you can’t avoid the situation, you can think about what you can do to better deal with it.

Everyone reacts to stress differently and it may take time to find good coping mechanisms. Once you know what works for you, talk to your employer to see what changes they can make to help.

Feeling in control of your time and your workload are important in helping you handle pressure. Prioritising, setting achievable targets and not taking too much on, can be useful ways to organise your time and help you feel in control. Think about when you work best during the day, for example you might be a morning person or an evening person, and do the tasks that need most concentration at that time.

Be kind to yourself, reward your achievements and forgive yourself if you make a mistake. Nobody's perfect and putting extra pressure on yourself won’t help.

Finding balance in your life can also help develop resilience to stress. When you are busy at work, it can sometimes feel that this takes up all of your energy. It’s not easy but try to find time to focus on relaxation activities or hobbies outside of work. Keeping active, eating well and getting enough sleep are also really important. These simple changes could help you feel more able to cope with pressure and stressful situations.

If you’re experiencing difficulties in your relationships with colleagues practise being straightforward and assertive in your communication with others. If people are making unreasonable or unrealistic demands on you, be prepared to tell them how you feel and say no.

Remember that whatever you're going through that's causing you stress, you don't have to cope with it alone. Try to build you support network at work and find out what support you workplace has on offer via your line manager or HR. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness and it can make a huge difference sharing how you’re feeling with friends and colleagues.

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At Mind we provide advice and information to help you be mentally health at work.

Find out how you can take action to reduce workplace stress this Mental Health Awareness Week: www.mind.org.uk/mhaw