Mental Health Foundation: Less stressful workplaces - what we can all do
Chris O’Sullivan, Head of Business Development and Engagement

Many of us spend the majority of our waking hours at work, so it is important that our workplaces are mentally healthy.

However, we know that for many of us, work is a primary cause of stress. We can all relate to feeling stressed at work – a deadline looming, too many tasks to cram in and, sometimes, fear of making a mistake.

The stats

Our survey for Mental Health Awareness Week has shown:

• a third (32%) of us find ourselves thinking about work in our personal time, causing us stress

• 28% of us feel less productive at work because of stress

• a quarter (23%) of us compromise our health to get work done; 16% of us compromise relationships

• One-fifth of us say that ‘powering through’ stress is part of our organisational culture.

But reducing stress in the workplace is possible and we can all do something to help. Here are some top tips for you to help yourself and to help colleagues

Five tips for avoiding stress at work

1. Sleep

Make sure you pay attention to how much sleep you need – and prioritise good sleep when you face busy periods of work.

2. Breaks

Use the breaks you have in your working day, as well as your commute, to ensure you get away from your desk/work area and do something different, for yourself. Make sure you plan and use your holidays, and if you become unwell, take time to recover.

3. Diet

A lot of us run to caffeine, alcohol or junk food when we are up against it. If you are starting to feel overwhelmed, try and eat nutritious, healthy meals at regular times, and increase your water intake, whilst reducing caffeine and alcohol. Don’t eat at your desk or grab a sandwich on the move.

4. Exercise

Try and get some exercise in your day – even if it’s just a walk around the block between tasks. If you like the gym, it can really help but try not to exercise late at night as it can affect your sleep.

5. Relationships

Take time to be with people you care about, and who you can vent to – friends, partners and family are often happy to let you vent.

Five tips for helping a colleague who’s stressed

  1. Ask what, if anything, you can do to help. Think about what you can offer beforehand as it’s important you do what you say you will.
  2. Make sure you listen to what they say. Be sure you won’t be distracted and pick a sensible time and place for a chat.
  3. Encourage them to do something nice for themselves that doesn’t involve work. Invite them for a walk or a lunch out of the office.
  4. If someone says they don’t want help, respect that. Not everybody wants to open up – that’s their choice. If you are sincere and genuine, they’ll know where you are if that changes.
  5. Address any gossip about a person’s wellbeing. Stigma around stress and mental health problems stop people coming forward and if you hear people talking, call them out.