Nearly 18 million workdays in 2019-2020 were lost due to stress, anxiety and depression, according to the UK Health and Safety Executive.
Findings from research and practice indicate that stress is the root cause of most, if not all, mental health difficulties. Stress being the physical and emotional symptoms we experience when we feel that the demands placed on us are more than we can cope with.
Now, whether we feel that we can cope or not depends on how well our basic human emotional needs are being met.
At work, most importantly, we need to feel:
– in control of our work and
With these three needs met, we’re in a good position to get other needs met — such as having satisfying work relationships and a sense of achievement, meaning and purpose.
Too often, however, work can create more problems than it solves. Issues can range from job insecurity, micromanagement and poor or no feedback, to leaky boundaries between work and living, impossible targets, aggression, bullying, make-work and rewards going to ‘hand-wavers’ rather than effective staff.
If you are feeling stressed, there are some immediate and practical steps you can take to alleviate it.
First you need to relax, to lower your emotional arousal and counter the symptoms of stress.
7/11 breathing, mindfulness and guided imagery are all very effective. As are exercise, doing things you enjoy and anything else that helps you get your needs met.
Feeling calmer will help you think more clearly and plan how to get your situation back under control, whether that means reducing work hours or volume, extending deadlines, developing new skills, adding new resources or finding a new job.