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International Stress Awareness Week: 3 Ways to support stressed colleagues
A shocking 79% of us are stressed at work, a 20% increase since 2018. We’ve talked about the £99 billion cost stress has on the UK economy, as well as how breathing can reduce instant feelings of stress. Now we turn to others and how to offer crucial support.
Stress can manifest in all sorts of ways including isolation, exhaustion and moods swings. The first step to help colleagues is to be mindful of the warning signs. These could range from missing deadlines and ‘not being themselves to being overwhelmed and lacking confidence. There are also physical effects of stress which include weight loss or gain, irritable stomach, and headaches. Regardless of how you determine if a co-worker is stressed, here are three ways you can support them.
o Reduce isolation
A kind smile or simple “Hello, how are you?” can have a positive impact on someone’s day. If circumstances allow, ask the colleague if they want to get out of the office for a walk, a coffee or just sit together during lunch. You’re not there to justify the feelings of stress, only acknowledge them.
Reducing isolation and increasing connections with someone who is feeling overwhelmed will have a direct effect on their mood. Humble attributes like empathy and listening allow some people to come to terms with their emotions and then seek further help if required.
Ensuring that trips out of the office are productive and enhance wellbeing is vital.
“Don’t automatically turn to the pub during the festive season for a catch-up. While a friendly drink can often cheer someone up, many professionals tend to struggle with the amount of socialising and drinking that comes during November and December. Try going for a bracing walk in the cold to clear heads instead.” -Dylan Salamon, Director of Wellbeing at hasta.
o Avoid the ripple effect
As humans, our brains pick up on emotional states around us, meaning that if you are surrounded by anxiety, then you too might start to feel signs of stress creep in. If you want to be a valuable source of help for your colleague or team member, you need to remain impartial to their problems. Try to act as a confidant to determine the underlying cause of the problem and avoid compounding the negative feelings by instigating conversations that dwell on them without a practical solution.
o Propose practical steps
Unless you’re a qualified counsellor, life coach or therapist, you shouldn’t be imparting advice on how to handle stress. Signposting your colleague to relevant material such as Mind, International Stress Awareness Week, Samaritans and the NHS is a great way to make sure they are getting the help they need. What you can focus on is creating practical steps with your co-worker on how to work through the anxiety. This could be anything from time-management techniques, writing a confident email or helping with a specific task. The aim is not to solve the emotion, only to guide the person through the situation.
International Stress Awareness Week seeks to destigmatise stress, prevent it and raise awareness of its many side effects. Remember, you can reach out and offer support any time of the year and hopefully, these techniques will give you the confidence to do so.
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