This stress awareness month, we explore not only how to spot stress symptoms within your employees and colleagues, but ways in which stress can be mitigated.
There are two types of stress: good stress and bad stress. Good stress is when our body goes through the symptoms of stress (quickening heart rate and rushing hormones) but without the added notion of threat. This sort of stress can happen when we’re happy, excited, perhaps even in love.
But there is also bad stress – stress that triggers our fight or flight response within the sympathetic nervous system. In this state, we begin to sweat, our palms become clammy, our breathing shallower, vision can become blurry and our muscles tense.
While short-term feelings of stress won’t do any lasting damage to the body and mind, especially if the person feeling stressed can find ways to relax after an episode, continuously being in a state of stress can have damaging long-term effects on a person’s physical and mental wellbeing.
According to research by CIPHR, the typical adult in the UK feels stressed more than twice a week, with those aged 18 – 24 reporting feeling the most stressed, followed closely by 45 – 45 year olds.
In a separate study by Perkbox, it was found that an overwhelming 79 per cent of working adults commonly experienced workplace-related stress symptoms. Added to that, this figure had grown by a shocking 20 per cent in comparison to only two years prior.
As an employer, it’s crucial to ensure that you are taking steps not only to recognise red flags of stress and burnout within an individual or team but to also offer ways to combat symptoms of stress in the working environment.
Here are a few things which Cathedral Appointments regularly undertake to enable the team to have down time.
Encouraging an active lifestyle
From lunchtime walks to cycling to work, we consistently remind the team the benefits of being outside in the fresh air and away from screens, even just for 15 minutes a day. From relieving tension to boosting endorphins, absorbing Vitamin D, and resetting motivation for the rest of the day ahead – the positive reasons for getting out of the office are vast.
Having a team that is connected is crucial for relieving stress symptoms. Building a workforce that can lean on each other and bounce ideas around without fear of judgement is key. To make this happen, regular social events are a great first step. From team building exercises to dinner and drinks, we actively plan team downtime on a regular basis to really drive those feelings of togetherness, trust, and friendship.
Creating opportunities to give back
Doing good for the benefit of others has been proven to be an aid in combatting stress, depression, and anxiety. It improves self-confidence and provides individuals with a sense of purpose.
Within Cathedral Appointments, we regularly hold charity sessions, raising money for causes which we are all aligned to and hold a place in our hearts. We also find ways to give back to our local community and drive change through the expertise we hold – such as Exeter’s Inspiring Girls project.
No matter what, whether a one-off stressful event or a long-term issue, support from an employer will always be appreciated – even if work isn’t the sole cause of said stress. By creating an environment where leaders and senior managers know how to listen generously without necessarily having all of the answers, where employees can speak openly and honestly and where health and wellbeing are prioritised over profits, businesses will be one step closer to helping teams overcome stress.
Nearly eight in ten of us will feel stressed at some point. Whether that is because of professional or personal situations – or perhaps both – will depend very much on the individual. Whatever the cause of stress, employers can play a huge part in supporting a person through this time of their life and seeing them through it.
During this year’s stress awareness month, remember it’s not just about spotting the red flags; it’s about having policies in place to prevent overwhelming workplace-related stress as well as measures to nurture people in times of crisis.