Today marks the beginning of Stress Awareness Month.
It has been held every April since 1992 in order to raise awareness of the causes of everyday stress, and what we can do to prevent it.
Although the stigma of stress and other mental health-related issues has lessened in recent years, it is still important to highlight them to a wider audience.
Talking about stress reduces that stigma, and can show just how common a problem it now is, especially at work.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, 595,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2017/18.
That led to 15.4 million working days lost as a result.
One problem is that people have a tendency to bottle things up.
In a workplace environment, people may be less likely to tell someone that they’re struggling out of fear that it’ll be seen as a sign of weakness.
To combat this, managers should aim to create a culture where it’s ok to seek help and where the causes of stress are pre-empted.
This will involve championing flexible working, building trust, and providing access to anti-stress resources.
When stress is identified, then it can be challenged.
For example, if someone suddenly has to take on extra work, then they may initially feel that they cannot cope.
However, frequent practice of stress management techniques can change that mindset. They may instead come to the conclusion that the reason they’ve been given extra work is because they are actually more than capable of handling it.
Furthermore, if they do need extra support, they won’t be afraid to ask. Their line manager wants them to succeed, and should support them to make that happen.
The combination of the two creates resilience. It sounds idyllic, but can be achieved.
To find out more about stress management, take a look at our Coping with Stress eLearning course: