Stress is part and parcel with being human.
When we experience stress, it is our body’s natural fight or flight response which is triggered in order to respond to the stimulus causing us unease. It is an automatic response which is innate, but as we have evolved, we have learnt to adapt the ways we respond to stress. Though experiencing raised levels of stress over long repeated periods of time is something as humans we have yet to adapt to. Elevated levels of cortisol caused by stress can have devastating long-term effects, leading to:
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Lower immunity
- Poorer cognitive functions
- Reduced bone density
- Elevated blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
Work is one of the top causes of stress in our adult lives, and it is estimated that where 595,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety (new or long-standing) in 2017/18 with 15.4 million working days lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety, this figure set to rise exponentially over the coming years.
Working environments are met with a myriad of stress causing stimuli such as tight deadlines, multiple demands from numerous stakeholders, lack of managerial support, the list really does go on.
As managers, leaders, directors, employers, we have a duty to our teams to reduce the impact of stress, and below is listed 3 simple methods we can all employ to support stress reduction:
1. Mental Health Ally’s
Within teams’ train points of contact on mental health first aid. That way there is always an ally for those who may be suffering the ill effects of stress. By promoting mental health ally’s, you are forming a network of support internally.
2. Encourage and Embrace
Encourage a working culture that understands stress, and embraces solutions offered by staff to support the combating of stress. Never belittle someone else’s experiences, we are all different and cope in situations very subjectively. Embrace that difference and offer your support.
Through opening dialogue and awareness about mental health, in turn, you will create a more inclusive culture of understanding.
3. Listen up and Support!
Seems simple but listen – Unfortunately, we are often not always mindful of others’ experiences. Therefore, we must be aware in the ways we respond to individuals who confide in us and always engage better language etiquette.
Phrases such as “Just pull yourself together” “Just stay calm” offer no solution to what that person is going through. Ask how you can be of help or how you can support.