Welcome to our latest series in Tips for Startups – this month we focus on positive mental health and how to avoid anxiety…..
Wellbeing in the workplace tips from Wellspace – How to survive a stressful week at work
We’ve all been there. Frantically looking for tips on surviving a stressful week at work.
No matter how much you love your job, no matter how much you love the people you work with, sometimes a week at work can just seem like the most stressful thing in the world.
And it’s not just enough to say it will all be over by Friday, because the impact of a stressful working week can have ramifications much wider than you first imagine.
A week of stress at work can impact on your health both physically and mentally, it can impact on the way you interact with your friends and family when you get home, it can impact on the way you interact with your co-workers whilst at work.
A stressful week at work is not something just to be brushed off, it can seriously affect your resilience and wellbeing in the workplace, which, in the long run, could impact on your ability to do your job and thus your career prospects too.
In short, a stressful week at work is not simply superficial; the cumulative effects can take their toll on you and those around you, especially if left to fester and not dealt with properly.
So how do you deal with a stressful week at work? Well, luckily there are one or two simple steps you can follow to make sure the stress of work is lessened somewhat and to ensure you deal with the physical and emotional strain effectively.
Prioritise Your Workload
It seems obvious, but if you feel like all your jobs are getting on top of you, then sit down and work out what needs doing first and what can wait. What is an absolute priority, and what jobs can be rescheduled?
Look at it logically and speak to your colleagues or the clients involved if needs be; often, if you’re honest and explain the situation calmly, you will be able to negotiate deadlines or timeframes on some projects.
You may feel like you’re letting people down, but this is a much better approach than not delivering on your promises and, more often than not, people will understand.
Write A To-Do List
There is nothing more satisfying than ticking something off your to-do list! Once you’ve prioritised your jobs, write them all out in the order they need doing then begin to work your way through them.
It’s up to you how you wish to do this; some people write super detailed to-do lists so that they can tick off every little task completed, whilst others prefer to just focus on the big jobs. Some people use a good old fashioned pad and pen, whilst others use online platforms or apps, such as Asana or Trello.
Use whichever system works best for you and then feel the satisfaction of a job crossed off the list.
Delegate What You Can’t Do
No matter how good you are at your job, you’re not superhuman. Sometimes, even the best of us just have to admit that we’re not going to get every task done on our task list in the time we’ve got.
If that’s the case, then look around to see who you could ask to help you.
If you’re the boss, then learn to delegate your tasks to your employees; if not, then simply ask your fellow employees for a favour. There will usually be someone who will be able to help you out on the odd occasion and, most of the time, they’ll be happy to help too, as they can then hold that favour in the bank for when they’re running into their deadlines.
Take A Break
When a deadline is looming, or a stressful situation needs to be dealt with urgently, it can be tempting to just put your head down and work through your breaks. However, this logic ends up being counter-productive.
Breaks away from your desk or your laptop are an essential part of maintaining your mental health and ability to do your job. If you skip meals or don’t just get some fresh air from time to time, then your health will be impacted and your judgement eroded.
Take regular breaks away from your desk, preferably to leave the office and get outside for a bit, or at least to get a bite to eat.
Talk To Your Co-Workers
When the pressure is on, it’s easy to start feeling like you’re the only one suffering and this leads to resentment and negative feelings.
Usually, however, if you’re feeling the pressure, then it’s likely those around you are too.
Speak to the people you work with and find out how they’re feeling too. Chances are, they are having a stressful week at work, too.
Maybe putting your heads together will help you come up with better solutions to reduce the stressful elements of your job? Or maybe just a problem shared is a problem halved?!
Treat Yourselves For A Job Well Done
Doing a job day-in-day-out with no rewards is a thankless task, so, if you’ve managed to complete a project, then reward yourself and your fellow employees for a job well done.
This doesn’t need to be an expensive affair; consider the budget of your co-workers and the scale of the achievement and coordinate the reward accordingly. For example, if you’ve just completed a major project, then maybe a staff outing, or an away day might be in order? For smaller jobs, perhaps just some cake or wine on a Friday afternoon will be enough?
However you do it though, remember to pat yourselves on the back when you have pulled off your objectives.
Try Relaxation Techniques
This might sound like a slightly hippy-ish suggestion, but these don’t have to be strange fandangled or new age activities; just do whatever you or the people you work with are comfortable with.
If you want to get a Reiki healer or Indian Head Massage clinic set up in the corner of the office, then great. However, if you just prefer to do some simple mindfulness or breathing exercises at your desk, then that’s fine too.
For some, even just a nice cup of tea is enough of a relaxation aid, so do what you feel comfortable work and – more importantly – do what will work for you!
Again, like the relaxation techniques, the level of exercise you wish to engage in will depend entirely on you and your level of fitness. Regardless, however, of what you choose to do, the benefits of getting up and partaking in some gentle exercise can be of limitless benefit to you.
Not only does exercise release those all important endorphins, which will help you alleviate any stress you might be feeling, but it will also get you out and about and away from your desk, if only for a short while. This will help you get some distance and perspective on your worries and enable you to better rationalise the scale of the problem.
Whether you just go for a gentle stroll during your break, spend your lunch hour in a high-intensity game of squash, or go to the gym or for a swim after work; it doesn’t matter. Just do what you feel like – but get moving.
Rationalise Your Worries
It’s very easy to slip into a cycle of stress and worry over work, which leads to more anxiety, which results in less sleep, which leads to you to be less productive and your deadlines don’t get met, which in turn leads to more stress and worry over work. The cycle is endless and very easy to get lost in.
Instead of getting trapped in the negative cycle, try to use positive thinking and cognitive behavioural techniques to think more rationally about your situation. Are things really as bad as they feel right now? If so, how are you going to solve the problems?
Instead of focusing on the bad points, try to look at the positive elements. It can be easy to say and hard to do, but once you learn to see the silver lining in things, the stresses can be rationalised, so they don’t become so all-encompassing.
Be Kind To Yourself
And finally, the last thing to remember is to be kind to yourself. Cut yourself a little bit of slack; you’re not rubbish at your job at all, you’re just having a bit of a stressful week.
Put it in perspective and give yourself a little treat for all your hard work. What your reward should be will be up to you; maybe a glass of wine at the end of the week is sufficient, or maybe a night out at the weekend with your mates will better help you blow off steam? Perhaps a day trip with the family, or just a giant piece of chocolate cake will do the trick.
Either way, remember to be kind to yourself every now and again and it will make all the effort seem all the more worthwhile.
Wellspace are the leading experts in workplace wellness, and a key partner to Plus X Brighton innovation hub.
Author Jake Adams Co-Founder, Wellspace
0808 178 0748
If you like this post, take a look at our “Why we champion wellbeing at Plus X Brighton” post.