How to shut out stress at work

How to shut out stress at work (photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

Ever feel like you can't switch off from work? If so, you could be treading a dangerous path. 

According to the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), around 12 million adults in the UK speak to their GP every year about stress. While not all of this is work-related, that's still around one in five of us and represents a significant problem across the country.

With this in mind, it's in your employer's best interest to ensure they're doing all they can to limit the chance of you feeling under pressure for a prolonged period of time. The MHF estimates around 13.3 million working days are lost annually as a result of staff feeling depressed, stressed or anxious.

In response, the Health and Safety Executive has introduced six Management Standards that companies have been advised to implement in a bid to help support their workforce. These cover everything from ensuring there aren't unattainable demands being placed on personnel to putting measures in place so they feel in control of their daily duties.

We've previously spoken about how to beat the business burnout and there are loads of resources available for managers to access when wondering how they can best look after their staff's wellbeing.

However, the onus isn't just on office leaders and there is plenty you can be doing to limit stress from becoming an issue.

Flexible working and other solutions

One key skill when it comes to taking the pressure off yourself is know when to take your foot off the gas for a while and when to go full throttle. You can't work at a high intensity for five or more days a week, every week. If you do, then something will eventually give.

Instead, prioritise some 'me' time. This can be in the evenings or weekends, it doesn't matter as long as you make sure you're getting some. However tempting it may be, you shouldn't check your emails, mull over spreadsheets or read through reports during your time off.

It's something that is easier said than done, given how simple it now is to access your work's network from the train, bus or your own living room.

You may benefit from removing yourself from the stressful environment of the office for a few days if you do have trouble letting go. This can make a significant difference if you are constantly being distracted by colleagues asking for help, adding to your already busy schedule.

Thanks to flexible working, a policy that an increasing number of firms are adopting, this is something that is now easily achievable through the use of facilities like free conference call services. By using this, you can work from home without your absence from the office disrupting your ability to fulfil your role within the company.

If your employer doesn't currently have any flexible working policies, then why not ask them about it? New proposals recently received the Royal Assent to become UK law, which will give all workers the right to request flexible working from June 30th.

Positive mental attitude

Of course, with a large part of stress being down to our own personalities and what we can and cannot tolerate over a long period of time, sometimes having the correct outlook on a situation can make a real difference.

For example, NHS England recommends one of the best ways to avoid becoming too stressed about seemingly hopeless scenarios is to just accept they can't be changed and to focus on aspects of your job you do have control over. 

This could be something as simple as looking for another post at another company, which can empower you into feeling as though you can still do something to improve your wellbeing.

One of the most important things you can do is always try to remain positive, regardless of what is going on around you. If you manage to stick to this mantra, then those feelings of stress are more likely to stay away, allowing you to achieve everything you want to.