Stress Awareness Month 2018: Taking care of your colleagues – and yourself


In a report from the Health and Safety Executive, 526,000 UK workers were found to be suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/17 – with 12.5 million working days lost as a result. It was also the cause of 40% of all work-related cases of ill health in Britain during this time – and it’s not something that’s changed much over the last few years. The 2018 UK Workplace Stress Survey from Perkbox found that 59% of adults experience stress as a result of their work.

1st April 2018 marks the start of Stress Awareness Month, a time to reflect on how we’re feeling and think about the measures we can take to alleviate stress. We’ve put together a few suggestions that might help you (and your colleagues) – take a look at the list below:

Assess your work-life balance

If you’re feeling burnt out, it might be time to assess how much time you’re spending at work (or thinking about it), compared to the time you’re spending on the things you enjoy outside of the office. That’s not to say you don’t love your job – even if you’re working in your dream role for the perfect organisation, we all need time away from work to feel refreshed. This could be as simple as committing to arriving and leaving the office at the time you’re supposed to, or ensuring you take a break at lunch instead of powering through at your desk.

Have you ever considered flexible working? Reassessing how you work could help you to achieve the work-life balance you’re looking for. If it’s something you’ve been thinking about (but you’re not sure where to start), take a look at the acas advice on the right to request flexible working here.

Give yourself a cut off time

Many of us can’t resist the call of our inboxes. It can be tempting to answer a few messages during the evenings or weekends, to lighten our workloads for the following day or week. However, this can make us feel like we’re always at work (or thinking about it), and can make it hard to switch off and relax.

If you really can’t avoid answering emails after work, it might be useful to give yourself a cut off time (let’s say 6:30pm). This will allow you to respond to a few things, but means you won’t get bogged down in work-related tasks for the entire evening. If you’re dipping into your inbox during weekends, set similar limits – half an hour per day, for example.

If you know that certain colleagues feel obliged to respond to emails outside of their working hours, try to avoid emailing them during these periods.

Ask for help

Work-related stress can be overwhelming, especially if your to-do list seems to get longer every time you look at it. Stress can make us less productive and more likely to be absent from work.

If you’re struggling with your workload, is there another member of your team that could help you? Asking a colleague to take on one of your tasks could make a huge difference to the stress levels you’re experiencing. This goes both ways – if you’ve noticed that one of your colleagues is struggling, offer to give them a hand and make their workload more manageable.

Focus on positive feedback

When you’re feeling stressed, it’s all too easy to give yourself a hard time. Focusing on the tasks you’re struggling with is often easier than thinking about the things that are going well. However, researchers suggest that greater performance at work comes from further development of our existing strengths – rather than from ‘fixing’ a weakness.

To help you focus on the positives, we’ve put together a simple guide on Best Self Feedback. This involves taking a strength-based approach, looking at the positive contributions you make at work and reflecting on your unique talents and skills. Download our free guide here to start using it today – and don’t forget to share it with your colleagues.

Get everyone talking

In the 2018 UK Workplace Stress Survey, 45% of employees reported that their organisation didn’t have anything in place to help reduce stress or improve wellbeing. How does your organisation approach this? If you think some improvements could be made and you want to make a difference, speak to your team to find out how they feel.

To get started, you could send out a quick email survey to everyone in your workplace. What would help their stress levels, or improve their overall wellbeing and happiness at work? What’s the main cause of their stress – and what would they do to change it? Asking your colleagues for their input ensures that everyone’s involved in any changes, and will give your organisation lots of ideas to get started.

How do you manage stress at work? Do you have any tips or ideas that you’d like to share? If so, let us know on Twitter, Facebook or in the comments section below.

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