What is Stress Management?
Stress management is an ongoing process that the body and mind engage in throughout the day. It helps individuals control their level of stress to maintain emotional and physical health. For most instances, the body and mind naturally manage stress. For example, if something startles you and you become physiologically aroused, your body will process the information and send signals to reduce your natural fight or flight response. If you start to become mentally overwhelmed with work, you come up with solutions to resolve mental stress and get your work done. However, there are some instances where natural stress management isn’t enough to maintain mental health and emotional well-being. When this occurs, individuals may use other resources to better manage their stress and build resiliency for future stressful situations.
Stress Management Techniques
Every individual person has different stress management techniques that work for them. It is important to engage in stress management techniques prior to becoming overloaded with stress. Getting into a routine to maintain stress management is often helpful, as well as recognizing when signs of stress are occurring. Some different forms of stress management include the following:
- Mindfulness exercises – check out our Mindfulness Webinar for more!
- Regular exercise – it doesn’t have to be intense! Try walking, recreational activity, or working out.
- Efficient scheduling – make time for your tasks and recreational activities, having a schedule ensures you have time for everything.
- Self-Care – do whatever self-care is important to you! It can be anything, such as reading a book, having a nice bath or cooking a nice meal.
- Spending time with loved ones.
- Open communication with your employer – make sure you are open and honest about your workload and feelings of stress. Your supervisor can problem solve with you to find a solution!
- Saying “no” when asked to take over extra work – don’t add more stress to your pile if you can’t handle it!
What Employers Should Know
There is going to be moments of stress in the lives of all employees. It may be solely work related, or it may be attributed to personal stressors. Whatever the reason, it’s important for employers to be able to recognize signs of a distressed employee, and to implement intervention and prevention strategies to decrease levels of stress as much as possible. Here are some signs of an overload of stress:
- Physical signs: sicknesses (such as cold/flu) due to a decreased immune system from stress, aches, pains and tension in the body, headaches/migraines
- Cognitive signs: an inability to concentrate, poor judgment, memory impairment, increased anxiety, and an inability to think positively
- Emotional signs: moodiness, irritability, frustration and anger, general unhappiness or depressive symptoms, isolation, decreased mental well-being
- Behavioural signs: over or under-eating, over or under-sleeping, substance use, avoiding responsibilities, withdrawal from activities, obligations and people.
These are not the only warning signs, and an employee does not have to exhibit any of these symptoms to be stressed out. Here are some important actions employers can take to assist with decreasing stress in the workplace:
- Train your managers on how to support employees in distress. Contact Gowan Consulting to set up your customized training.
- Provide resiliency training for your employees – we can help. check out our webinars or let us customize a training session for your team.
- Have an open-communication work environment – employees should feel comfortable telling their employers when they are feeling overwhelmed
- Check in with employees frequently – have coaching sessions or general one-on-one time to ensure employees are maintaining health care regimes
- Be receptive when an employee expresses stress – work together to find solutions
- Know the signs of stress and monitor them when they start occurring – for example, if an employee is exhibiting all the cognitive signs of stress but no other, there may be a deeper underlying problem – hire an Occupational Therapist to do a thorough functional cognitive assessment to ensure the employee has the tools to do their job role
- Ensure employees are taking scheduled breaks away from their work environment – encourage walks, team lunches or mindful eating!
Overwhelming and long-term stress are harmful to one’s physical and mental health. Severe stress can trigger the onset of a mental illness. Register for our Managing Mental Health Issues and Return to Work Workshop to learn more about when stress is actually distress, and how to assist employees in the workplace. For more resources, check out our Webinars on Mental Health and Communication in the workplace! If you would like more information on how we work with your team for sustainable workplace solutions, Contact Us!
American Psychological Association. (2019). Listening to the warning signs of stress. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-signs.aspx
Gowan, N. (2016) Mindfulness: The Benefits to the Worker Webinar.