Nearly three-quarters of people return to work early when suffering with workplace stress and 16% stay in work after being formally diagnosed with stress. If you’ve been absent due to stress, did you feel pressured to go back to work because of what your colleagues or your boss might think? Or were you worried that your work was piling up and the longer you were off the worse it would be?
Were you ready to go back to work and how are you coping now? Did you return to work, but soon after found you still couldn’t cope and had to take more time off?
Maybe you haven’t taken time off work, but you’re struggling to get through each day and you wonder how much longer you can go on.
So, how can you cope better? The NHS offers talking therapies for stress and the depression that often results from stress which are great but they can take a while to access and they don’t really equip you to go back to work. Work related stress has its own unique picture.
What causes work related stress?
We know that the main causes of stress at work fall into the following categories:
Being exposed to change
This could be a change in role, circumstances or in the organisation.
Not having enough control
A huge factor in stress, with a perceived lack of control over our work making stress worse.
Too many demands
For many people workload is the number one stressor in work. But, what is often recognised is that there can be various reasons for not managing the demands placed on you in work. For example, the problem could be caused by poor time and attention management, lack of self-management and interruptions, not prioritising or being unable to manage your relationships in work.
Unsure of your role
Role ambiguity, or not being clear exactly what you are employed to do, your job role ‘creeping’ or a change in your role and responsibilities can all be major triggers of stress.
Lack of good relationships and support
It can be hard to build and maintain good work relationships and being stressed just makes this worse. Without the support we get from relationships it’s much harder to manage stress.
So how can you cope better with stress at work?
No one wants to be absent from work. It affects our relationships, both in and out of work, disrupts our team and, in many cases, interferes with career progression. So, what can you do to either get back to work ‘safely’ without the risk of getting ill again or, if you are hanging in there at work but really struggling with stress, how can you cope better and simply be happier in work?
When it comes to work related stress there’s usually a number of issues coming together to form the ‘perfect storm’ that results in overwhelm or burn out.
In my experience, and I’ve worked around stress for a long time now, the causes are usually due to not having the right coping skills for work. Often because we simply haven’t been shown how! Many employees begin their working lives with little or no experience of managing a varied and demanding workload, dealing with so many emails, understanding the various relationships they have to maintain or any of the other diverse challenges that work presents. Or work changes and there’s not the time or support to make the necessary adjustments.
When people feel out of their depth and overwhelmed they do their best but they flounder and, like quicksand, the more they struggle, the worse it gets.
But there’s a set of skills that can help and if you learn them the chances are you return to work with more confidence or cope better with work, get back to your previous levels of performance – and be happier!
What can you do if you are off work with stress or just not coping with work?
No matter what job you do there are certain skills we all need. You can learn these so that you cope better with work and the pressure you are under, feel more confident and more in control.
These skills include:
- Understanding work related stress
- Weathering change and building resilience
- Understanding and challenging negative thoughts
- Workload management especially:
- Time and attention management
- Managing interruptions
- Prioritising and meeting deadlines
- Tackling email overwhelm
- Recognising perfectionism and procrastination
- Learning to say ‘no’ when appropriate without causing conflict
- Building great relationships and gaining support
- Emotional intelligence for self management
- Listening skills and empathy
- Effective delegation and managing others
- Understanding and using assertiveness
- Building self esteem and confidence
- There may be others that you would like to learn and that’s the beauty of a bespoke service – it’s can be exactly you need.
So how can you learn these skills and cope better with stress and work?
There are a couple of ways you can get better at stress, become more resilient and manage better in your day to day work.
You can undertake a series of one to one coaching sessions to learn these skills and address your particular stressors – in which case it would be fully tailored to your particular needs. Then you can build the skills you personally need to better manage the situation that led to you being stressed.
As an Employer
If you’re an employer and you’d like your people to return to work safely after a stress related absence, or you know that some of them are struggling, then this programme can be delivered to groups of up to fifteen in your workplace.
So, if you have a problem with stress, or you want to take care of your employees and keep them happy and keep them in work, why not contact me.
Further details of my approach to managing stress can be obtained by clicking here.