How to manage workplace stress
Posted on by Jo Shaw
Estimated read time: 6 mins
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, so follow these 10 tips to create a calmer, more controlled working life for yourself.
Sometimes it’s the small changes that we make that can have the biggest impact on our working life. Our 10 tips below provide some suggestions that will help you to develop a more relaxed and controlled working life.
- Set clear goals
Being transparent about what you want to achieve will not only help you to get your priorities in order; but will help employees to clearly understand how they can play their part in the success of your business. If you haven’t already, communicate your overall vision, the steps you need to take to achieve it and make sure you revisit them often.
- Introduce flexible working
Flexible working consistently tops lists of benefits that employees look for in a role. According to one report 1, it’s ranked ahead of company cars, unlimited holiday allowance and free lunches. Providing great benefits allows you to attract and retain the best staff, but flexible working could also boost your business in other ways too. People are more productive at different times of the day. Some may be raring to go first thing in the morning, others may be night owls. By capitalising on their most motivated time periods, you could soon be seeing a real difference in what your employees can achieve.
- Remember what’s going right, not just what’s going wrong
It’s very easy to become obsessed by all the things you want to improve, change and fix in your business. It’s even easier to forget to celebrate the successes. Whether it’s through a formal recognition process such a “Idea of the Month” or a more ad-hoc approach, make sure you regularly take the time to focus on what’s been achieved. It’s a brilliant morale booster and can often lead to other great ideas.
- Get moving
Whether it’s a pre-breakfast run, a spin class on the way home or simply a walk across the park during your lunchbreak, making the time for some physical activity will benefit both your mind and your body. Even ten minutes of brisk walking can improve your mood, energy levels and mental alertness 2. Can you set up opportunities for your team to get active together? Running clubs, a lunchtime football game or a subsidy on a local gym are all fantastic, low- or no-cost options.
- Take time out
The nature of small businesses means you can often burn the candle at both ends juggling several roles at once. With so much to do, it’s very easy to sacrifice your time out to make more headway on your to-do list. Don’t do it! Taking the time to just be you – whether that’s getting some exercise, seeing friends or just catching up on sleep is vital to avoid burning out.
- Talking of sleep
Apparently, some of the world’s most famous leaders survive on tiny amounts of sleep each night 3, but most people need at least 7 to 9 hours to be the best, most productive versions of themselves. If you’re struggling to nod off, try getting yourself into a routine where you go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Ban screens from your bedroom to give yourself some technology-free time. You could also take a look at your diet and exercise patterns to see how they could be impacting your sleep.
- Discourage multitasking
Although multi-tasking seems like a great way to get lots of jobs done at once, research has discovered that it could reduce productivity by up to 40% 4. Try focusing your attention on a single task for 20 minutes before moving on to something else. If that’s too tricky, try limiting yourself to just two tasks at any given time.
- Don’t be “always on”
Technology is a wonderful thing, but it’s also created a society where we feel bereft without a phone in our pocket. Digital detoxes are growing in popularity and even the busiest CEOs are scheduling down time away from their work schedules.
Make sure you set an example that your employees can follow too. If you’re always pulling a late night in the office, they’ll feel the pressure to do the same, and sitting at a desk is not the same thing as being productive.
Even if you’ve a small team, identify what each member’s strengths are and play to them. You might spend ages each month coming up with the social media posts you know you should be doing, while another, more creative, member of your team could put them together in a flash and enjoy it at the same time!
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2 Ekkekakis, P., Hall, E.E., Van Landuyt, L.M. & Petruzzello, S. (2000). Walking in (affective) circles: Can short walks enhance affect? Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 23 (3), 245–275 via https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-using-exercise