Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Tackling work-place stress

Today is National Stress Awareness Day and this year's focus is on beating work-related stress, something that according to figures from the charity MIND affects half a million people in the UK to a level that is making them ill.

So what causes work-related stress?At work we may find ourselves working side by side with people we wouldn't choose to spend time with. Add to that the fact that people often have different working styles, for example, one person may work very intensely for five hours then appear to be 'slacking' for the rest of the day while their colleague may keep their head down all day and work at a consistent, less intense pace. Conflicts can arise with one person perceiving another not to be pulling their weight while the other person may wonder how they can possibly be expected to do more. As a result people may feel under pressure to drive themselves harder, particularly if there is a potential threat of redundancy.

Other people's expectations and how we manage them play a large part in work-place stress. Being expected to: work late, behave in a particular way, do tasks we are neither trained nor experienced at, take ownership of projects we perhaps disagree with, and in addition, not feeling we are valued by our employer or society for what we do can all contribute greatly to stress at work. 

So what can we do to get on top of stress?It may seem that with all these contributing factors we are destined to be stressed, but the situation is just half the stress story, the other half is how we respond. As stress arises from the body's natural response to danger, to fight stress effectively we need to find ways to relax our bodies. 

Over the next few blogs we will look at three different relaxation techniques - deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and body scan and explore how to become more mindful - techniques that many find helpful when tackling stress.

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