Johanna Westhauser, Business in the Community Diversity Adviser shares her coping strategies for stress and for promoting mental and physical wellbeing.
There are two ways to enjoy the summer months: you take time off, recharge and return to work in September feeling more energised. Or you keep working and enjoy better commutes, empty inboxes and nearly no meetings. I’ve opted for the latter this year and used the calm and piece to focus on key deliverables, plan ahead and realise new ideas, just like Bill Gates. But some of us don’t often get a chance for a break, may it be due to caring responsibilities, working two jobs or other personal pressures.
Stress is a key trigger for low mental wellbeing and comes in many shapes and sizes: from financial pressures that leave 79% of those with debt worries losing sleep to pressures of caring responsibilities for at least 1 in 9 employees who have to care for someone who is older, disabled or seriously ill. And then add stress at work to the mix: The BITC Mental Health at Work report 2017 found that 60% of employees have experienced a mental health problem due to work or where work was a contributing factor.
Early warning signs of stress and low mental well-being include feeling irritable, impatient, tired, nervous, and with no energy. You might find yourself or others constantly worrying, snapping at people, unable to concentrate, and being restless. We need to take these signs seriously and regularly destress.
On a personal level, that means using effective coping strategies that work for you; for example, exercise, meditation, talking to a friend or taking up a new hobby. Mental Health First Aid England has some useful tips on how to deal with stress.
On an organisational level, it means having the right policies and practices in place to support employees to reduce stress; for example, offering flexible working and access to support via employee assistance helplines, organisational health teams and employee networks. Most importantly, line managers are key to improving employees’ mental wellbeing at work and so it’s crucial to transform the role of line managers to lead on mental wellbeing.
At BITC, we apply our Workwell model to help organisations develop a strategic, proactive approach to mental wellbeing, wellness and engagement. We believe that educating employees about mental health and coping strategies for stress is a key preventative measure to improve employee wellbeing.
Share this article with your teams to start talking about how you can address your stress.