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April 3, 2023

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Efforts made to improve awareness of stress during dedicated month

Efforts are being made to improve awareness of stress during the dedicated month of action.

Symptoms, support and ways to combat stress are being discussed in workplaces across the country this month (April) as part of Stress Awareness Month.

Employers are being encouraged to take time to reflect on the impacts of stress and worry in their own lives and those of their employees. 

“Excessive worry can drive us to catastrophise”

Clare Price, Director of Clinical Services at Onebright Mental Health, said: “These may be some of the most stressful and worrisome times many people have ever experienced, so how do we know when our work-related stress and worry are manageable and when they are hindering our life? 

 “If we can’t actively work past it and it stops us from living the life we want to live, this is where worrying can impact mental health and disrupt someone’s quality of life.
“When we find ourselves in a state of ongoing uncertainty and things continue to be unpredictable, this can lead to ‘unique worries’ and concerns which can be specific to an individual or to a group of individuals.

“The good news is that human beings have a fantastic ability to think about the future and future events. Generally, thinking ahead means we can anticipate obstacles, which allows us to plan, come up with solutions and meet our goals – but it is helpful to understand that thinking ahead can pose some difficulties, too.

“Excessive worry can drive us to catastrophise. This is where we think about worst-case scenarios, which can make us feel overly anxious and apprehensive.

“Worrying often moves us past the point of active problem-solving. It becomes an obstacle to effective functioning. It can be helpful to understand and be able to distinguish between the two different kinds of worry: real and hypothetical. 

“Real worries are about real problems that are affecting you right now, hypothetical worries don’t currently exist but might happen in the future.

“If you are a line manager or someone who manages people, consider watching out for signs of stress and worry in your colleagues.”

Symptoms of stress

Clare identifies symptoms of stress including absence, when someone takes an unusual amount of time off work, reduced tolerance, when someone overreacts to situations in the workplace, pessimism, performance issues, isolation or low confidence.

The action she advises is to maintain balance between work and activities that you value and give you feelings of pleasure, identify your worry as real or hypothetical, postpone your worry but deliberately setting aside time to let yourself worry and don’t worry for the rest of the day, apply self-compassion and practice mindfulness. 

She added: “It is true that we are living in uncertain times, but, uncertainty never really ends. We think it does, but the world around us never stops changing and we need to be able to adapt and adjust as a result.
“For some people this can be really stressful, affecting their quality of life, both personally and professionally.

“If you think work-related stress and worry are a problem among your employees, there are many ways to help workers manage these feelings, including techniques from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) that can help people to overcome excessive work-related stress and worry, so it doesn’t negatively impact your mental health and body.”

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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