How to keep health and stress under control in the workplace
We live in unprecedented times, dramatically impacting our way of life. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed what we view as normal, and this uncertainty has added a lot of pressure to the working class. Therefore, many people are stressed, and their mental well-being turns for the worse, leading to absences from work.
Work mental well-being is how one copes with the daily tasks given, is industrious, and has a good working relationship with their colleagues.
Signs of stress
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There are many signs that a person displays when he is stressed at work. Some of the most prominent are:
- Feeling irritable and snapping at people
- Unable to make decisions or struggle to complete a menial task
- Having panic attacks, increased heart rate, and hyperventilation
- Not interested in hobbies or things that used to value
- Isolate oneself from friends and family
- Always tired or dizzy
- Physical health is affected, and the existing medical conditions worsen, such as hypertension, angina,
- blurred vision, etc.
- Loss of appetite or overeating
- Anxiety and depression
When a person has work-related stress, he finds that the workload is too much and demanding, leading to the feeling of exhaustion, lack of interest in the work, and anxiety and depression. Anxiety is when a person is exceedingly worried and has difficulty concentrating most of the time.
Know the triggers
Many people cannot cope well with changes in the organization or new working methods. Other people may find the increase in workload a worrying factor because they feel overwhelmed and give up. Sometimes the conflict between colleagues on work-related issues or other personal issues can cause stress levels to increase.
Ways to cope
One of the ways how you could cope is to start the day with good exercise. For instance, if you are starting work at 10 am, why not get to work by cycling (if the distance is okay and weather permitting). Cycling is a good exercise as the burst of energy released makes you be focused on the day ahead, putting aside negative thoughts.
Some people have found that going to the gym early in the morning is an antidote to depressive thoughts. Others have found that going to the gym in the evening is an excellent way to wind down from work issues.
There are many health benefits from exercise:
- Prevention of cardiovascular diseases
- Improve moods
- Improve blood circulation by getting rid of cholesterol
- It helps to sleep better
- Boosts energy
- Reduce blood sugar and type 2 diabetes
- Help in maintaining a good weight
- Keeps muscles and joints healthy
Another way to cope with stress is to have a good working relationship with other staff members. A simple conversation with your colleagues over a cup of coffee can build friendship, which will make it easier to get help from your colleagues when in need. The saying ‘laughter is good medicine‘ is especially true in the workplace. It makes one enjoy being at work and will lead to productivity.
Good and non-toxic workmates will build up your self-esteem, and you will feel valued.
Furthermore, it would be best if you kept your work and life balanced. Many people go home with the work still in their minds. Others work extra-long hours -sometimes with no pay – to complete the work for the day.
This has left many to have burnout – where a person has physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. It is essential to discuss with your manager or human resources if you see some of the following signs of burnout:
- Procrastination – where tasks are not done in time, and there is a last-minute rush to complete them but always not enough time to complete them.
- Feeling of giving up, tired and isolated
- Feeling helpless
- Doubts about yourself that you are not good enough.
Suppose you find that your work is too demanding. In that case, you need to discuss your work condition with your manager or human resources and how this is affecting your physical and mental health. Seek their support in helping you manage the workload and, if possible, have a flexible working condition that considers your mental well-being.
Also, discuss with them if some tasks can have extended deadlines and get their feedback.
It is essential to take care of your health at the workplace by prioritizing your needs. It is always good to make sure you have short breaks while working. The breaks could be less than 2 minutes -to refresh yourself and focus on what’s the next task.
Simple things like standing and stretching your legs, putting files in a drawer if working in an office, seeking advice from a colleague about a job you are having difficulty completing, a coffee break with other staff members, or even a toilet break.
Do not forget about lunch, which should be at least half an hour for it gives you rest and gives your body enough energy for the rest of the day.
It is also important that risk assessment is done before doing any work. For example, Suppose your job involves lifting or moving items. The risk assessment done by a qualified person should clearly state what and how you should do that task. Anything you do not understand should be clearly explained to you, and then sign the documentation.
Likewise, even if you are working in the office setting, there should be some risk assessment done to highlight good working practices using the computer monitor, your seat if it is comfortable, and how to adjust it to prevent back injuries and the safety measures on using its electrical equipment and appliances.
Your place of work should also be assessed that it is a safe place to be. For example, is it well ventilated, especially now that Covid-19s is still rampant? Are there any trip hazards or spillages that can cause accidents? Is the water safe to drink and tested for legionella as per applicable regulations? When you know that a place of work is clean and safe, you then have peace of mind and is one less to worry about.
The saying ‘a change is as good as a rest ‘rings true even at the workplace. Therefore, please make sure you take in your accrued holidays. Some managers tend to make their employees not take the holidays to which they are entitled, but this is illegal.
You need to raise this issue with the human resources department. Going for a good holiday will make you feel refreshed and rejuvenated when going back to work.
Plan the day
How can you make the day at work enjoyable and relaxing? First, you need to plan the day. It is good to start with the most important meal of the day – breakfast. A good breakfast that includes carbohydrates, fruits, and proteins will give the body, particularly your brain, energy to start the day.
Also, fluids like water, a cup of tea, or fruit juice in the morning are essential.
For the brain to function well throughout the day, it needs a lot of energy, especially when you are to do a demanding job. After that, eating nutritious food at lunch and dinner will help maintain good health.
Avoid foods with lots of sugar to prevent a sugar crash afterward. Eat lots of fresh food and vegetables, and eat a balanced diet each day to boost your immune system.
Avoid comfort foods, i.e., junk foods, as they are responsible for weight gain leading to health complications.
Finally, do not forget to drink water per your body’s requirements. The best way to check the amount of water you require is to check the color of your wee. It is dark and brown, which means you are dehydrated and need water. The less light the color of your wee is, the less you need to drink water.
Of course, if you feel thirsty at any time, no matter what color it is, or after doing some exercise, drink water.
At work, you need to focus on the task for the day. It is a good idea to take the first few minutes and write down what tasks are there in your day’s diary. And then prioritize the tasks in order of importance.
Are there tasks that are urgent and important? Are there tasks that are urgent but not important? Are there just important tasks only? Are there tasks that are not important and done another day? Knowing what is on hand in priority terms makes it easier to plan the workday and set deadlines on when each task is complete.
By organizing tasks this way, you can prevent getting undue stress in completing your work for the day. At least you will know when you are falling behind a schedule, and you can ask for assistance from your colleagues or manager; this prevents things from getting out of hand.
It is also essential to avoid conflict at work. When people are working together, conflicts will occur due to differences of opinions, operating conditions, or personal tastes. For example, it would be best to walk when your colleagues start gossiping; otherwise, there will be many confrontations and contentions among the workmates.
The result will be a loss of friendship and enmity among different groups, and this can cause distress and victimization.
Do not forget to get enough sleep- the recommendation is that you need at least 8 hours of sleep per day. Having a good sleep makes it possible for the body to recharge and feel refreshed for the next day. A night of good sleep will help to:
- Improve memory
- Reduce stress
- Boost immune system
- Lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases
- Manage weight
- Normalize mood
- Make decisions
In conclusion, mental well-being is essential to be productive in a workplace. Stress at work can lead to anxiety and depression, causing loss of productivity and absences.
However, the coping mechanisms help tackle stress: knowing what triggers the stressful condition, having good exercise, a balanced diet, good sleep, good workmates, avoiding conflicts, and openly discussing your mental well-being with your manager or human resources.
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