How to Promote Stress Awareness (Month) in the Workplace

Work stress awareness is necessary. We've compiled a list of helpful tips and useful tactics to reduce stress in the workplace for an employer and an employee.
How to Promote Stress Awareness (Month) in the Workplace
Work stress awareness should be a priority for every organization to improve the employee experience. April marks the start of Stress Awareness month, with April 16th the prescribed day focusing on stress in the North-America.

In this article you will find:

  • 10 tips to promote stress awareness in the workplace
  • Frequently asked questions about stress awareness (month)

10 Tips to Promote Stress Awareness (Month) in the Workplace

Here are some tips to help you promote stress awareness in your workplace:

1. Prioritize Your Health

By paying attention to both your physical and mental health, you are putting yourself in the best possible position to face workplace challenges. Choosing a healthy diet, taking regular exercise, and getting enough sleep are all important in balancing your stress levels. By keeping these simple things in check you can avoid stress triggers such as lack of focus and fatigue. Prolonged stress can lead to physical exhaustion, so it is imperative to keep yourself in check, both mentally and physically, to avoid such concerns.

2. Speak Out About Stress

If you feel that things are getting too much or that you are being given more than you can handle, then bringing this to the attention of your manager or someone in a position of authority is vital in attempting to resolve the issue. Your employer should have your best interests at heart, and therefore should be open to discussing what can be done to improve your well-being at work. Your manager may be able to help you prioritize tasks and delegate some of the responsibilities in order to ease your workload and help you to fulfill your role to the best of your abilities. Most workplaces have a policy or some form of a program they follow in regard to achieving a healthy work/life balance for their employees, so speaking out about stress is not an uncommon concern to be brought to an employer's attention.

3. Work Towards a Work/Life Balance

Achieving a healthy work/life balance is something that is widely talked about but is often difficult to achieve. Balancing striving to do well in your career with your personal life is certainly no mean feat, however, there are certain measures you can take in order to work towards this. This can include learning your employer's stance on working from home and flexible working hours to see if you can meet some arrangements to accommodate your needs, taking into consideration your commuting time, etc. Learning to say no to certain activities which are not mandatory, such as being on a committee, can often allow you more time to focus on your priorities. Valuing your personal time and communicating with your employer when other commitments/family issues arise will help keep them in the loop and hopefully gain their support if you need some assistance or increased flexibility within your schedule.

4. Stay As Organized As Possible

Planning ahead and keeping your schedule up to date can help to alleviate stress levels in the workplace. Being organized in other aspects of your life can also have an impact on the amount of stress you face in the workplace. For example, getting organized for the following day the night before means that you avoid rushing in the morning, therefore arriving at work stress-free. Simple steps like this can help you to be more productive and efficient while at work, hence reducing stress levels throughout the day. Organization and efficiency go hand in hand, so by working as efficiently as possible when you're actually at work, you avoid undue stress towards the end of the day which you could end up bringing home with you.

If you feel you are experiencing excessive workplace stress, then you should consider trying some of the above steps as a form of action. There shouldn't be a stigma surrounding voicing your concerns both in and out of the workplace, and with workplace wellness being such a hot topic for both employers and employees at the moment, it is more important than ever that people are stress aware.

5. Build A Culture Centered On Employee Well-being

Culture-building is a part of most employer branding strategies, critical to giving your company a distinct identity in the job market and helping attract top talent. An element that's often left out, however, is the criticality of mental health and explicit benefits targeting it. Company culture tools such as employee feedback, surveys, engagement drivers, and benefits administration platforms can all be aligned to mental health parameters. For instance, Workday sends a two-question survey to its employees every week, often asking questions about their mental health and wellness. By gathering such data, companies can implement initiatives that will help employees manage their stress in the workplace.

6. Create Digital Channels Where Employees Can Share Their “Stress Stories”

All work environments rely on a plethora of professional communication tools to connect (with) their employees. These channels can be used to offer an outlet for employees looking to share their “stress stories.” On Slack, for example, you could have a dedicated thread for employees to discuss stressful situations. Employees can even share their preferred approaches to tackling workplace stress via blogs on the company intranet. In fact, there are also bots in the Slack marketplace meant for stress alleviation. These small steps can go a long way in ensuring overall mental health.

Such open discussions, however, demand a very open work culture where employees are comfortable sharing their workplace stress issues. Once such a culture has been established, tools like Slack can give employees an outlet for their stress.

7. Keep Track

Keep track of what is stressing you This tactic ties nicely in with the previous idea. Try to keep a journal of the things or situations which have stressed you out over a period of time. Record your thoughts, feelings, and information concerning the incident. Recording information can help to identify patterns and in turn develop an action plan for building resilience to stressors.

8. Build a Support Network

Build a support network Building a network and accepting help from others is vitally important, especially in the individualistic culture of the westernized world. It may be family, friends, colleagues, or even your manager. Some employers may have stress management resources which include online resources, counseling and if needed, referrals to mental health professionals.

9. Exercise and Nutrition

Exercise and Nutrition Aerobic exercise – that which raises the heart rate – is an especially effective method to increase mood, health, and energy, as well as (almost paradoxically) relaxing the mind and body. Conversely, rhythmic exercise – i.e. yoga, dancing, walking, etc. – helps to relax the nervous system. Research suggests to try and get at least 30 minutes a day Nutrition is super important as I'm sure you are all aware. Make sure you try to minimize excess sugar and refined carb intake; reduce the intake of foods that may adversely affect your mood (this differs between people, for example, caffeine can increase anxiety in some of the population), and drink alcohol in moderation.

10. Boost Morale

Be sure to set aside time each month to celebrate your company culture wins. This shows real recognition and improves employee engagement and raises workplace pride. In summary, remember that we all become stressed from time to time. Always be aware of this when you see it coming and do everything you can to help the individual concerned.

Low-stress levels = happy employees = high productivity!

People also ask these questions about stress awareness

Here are the answers to the most common questions about stress awareness:

1. What is stress and who does it affect?

Stress affects nearly everyone. According to a recent study conducted by The American Institute of Stress, 83 percent of US workers reportedly suffer from work-related stresses with women between the ages of 30-49 being the most affected group. When left untreated, stress can develop into anxiety as well as other mental health issues.

In a life-threatening situation, stress signals your body's fight or flight response. To allow you to act quickly, your heart rate and breathing will increase, your muscles will tense up, and your brain will need to use more oxygen. Although most of us don't experience life-threatening situations in our day-to-day, that doesn't mean stress isn't present

Although nearly everyone has heard of “fight or flight”, very few people have heard of “rest and digest”. Every single one of us possesses both. Eblin explains, “you can think of fight or flight as your body's gas pedal and rest and digest as the brakes. To manage yourself effectively, you need to hit the sweet spot between the gas pedal and the brakes.”

2. How can HR teams and managers help their employees with their workloads?

HR teams need to ensure that an organization's processes and policies consider employee well-being and that different departments have communication channels available to avoid creating silos. If your departments don't talk, how can anyone collaborate effectively?

To support employees, you could consider training some of your people to become Mental Health First Aiders. As well as assisting in a crisis, Mental Health First Aiders are available to provide early intervention and guidance for someone who may be developing a mental health issue. They can offer initial support through non-judgemental listening and guidance.

You can also implement stress management and well-being initiatives to help employees learn how to avoid conflict and stress. By educating your workforce, and ensuring managers have the relevant people training, you can help to make sure everyone is working with the support they need.

Managers need to check in regularly with their teams, evaluate their workload and help them prioritize when to-do lists start building or redistribute tasks so everyone can plan their time more effectively. They can help manage other departments' expectations to reduce pressure on their people and find alternative solutions when deadlines are unrealistic to achieve. This ensures employees will have the freedom to do their best and avoid unnecessary conflict.

Stress is something that can affect everyone, and with people spending so much of their time at work, it's important organizations plan preventative measures in their employee engagement strategies.

Author Details

Written by:
Najeeb Khan
Head of Training & Events
Leadership Development, Team Training, Belonging, Diversity & Inclusion, & Innovation
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