When stress goes unmanaged, it has the potential to create new mental health problems or exacerbate existing situations.
Our mental health can be affected by many different things. You may not even realise what is having an impact on your state of mind, and you might find yourself wondering why you feel the way you do. But one feeling we’re probably all familiar with is stress, both inside the workplace as well as at home. Stress is part of everyday life, but we can learn to adapt to it and maintain a healthy mind-set.
One way we’re doing this at Capita is with the help of our Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs). They’ve been doing an amazing job of spreading the word about mental health wellbeing and helping to normalise the stigma surrounding the subject. Their responsibilities include listening and, if requested, they are qualified to guide us through recovery by providing the appropriate support.
The first Wednesday in November each year is National Stress Awareness Day and it’s an opportunity to share any pressure or stress we find ourselves under, what we’re doing to manage it, and to learn from each other. Stress Awareness Day is also a good time to reflect on our personal and professional workloads.
This year we’ve been exploring the subject with one of our own Mental Health First Aiders, Shannon Webb. Here are some of her thoughts and tips on dealing with stress at work.
Stress is normal
“My best advice is what I try and tell myself: we should know our limits, and shouldn’t be afraid to voice when we’ve reached them. For many of us, periods of stress at work are unavoidable. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be a red alert every time we feel overwhelmed. Some of our best projects and results happen under high pressure, but chronic and prolonged stress can become an issue. It doesn’t make us more productive, in the long run, it does the exact opposite.
“Knowing how much we can handle, and how much we’re willing to accept, is crucial, especially in the workplace when we can so easily be caught up in our day-to-day workload. Too often we forget to take five minutes to breathe and check in with ourselves and – even more rarely – to give ourselves a stern talking to when we know we’re taking on too much. We should not ignore our own wellbeing just so we can stagger or crawl over the next finish line.
Speak up and keep talking
“Our line managers are here to put a clear support system in place for us, or point us in the right direction”, Shannon reminds us. “And, of course, a Mental Health First Aider is there should we need advice or to raise any other concerns. So don’t be worried about speaking up about how you’re feeling. Don’t listen to the self-doubt telling you you’re being difficult or that you’re the weak link in the team chain. Practicing self-care isn’t something to feel guilty about, and nobody should think less of us for it.
“Although stress is something everybody experiences, we don’t all go through it the same way. It adds up over time and quite often can get too much. It’s how we deal with it that’s important. Stress Awareness Day reminds us that it’s okay to feel overburdened. By simply talking and sharing our feelings, we can unload some of the weight, which can ultimately result in a clearer and healthier mind. For others, taking a step back, going for a walk, or making a cup of tea has proven to be effective in creating a refreshing perspective on which to act on.”
If you’d like more information about mental health and dealing with stress, you can visit the Mind website or contact your MHFA for advice.