Stress Awareness Week is an annual reminder highlighting the importance of not only recognising stress, but also seeking strategies to manage stress effectively.
A UK-wide stress survey has found that almost three quarters of adults (74%) have at some point over the past year felt so stressed they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. This year, to help tackle the stigma surrounding the issue, we’re sharing some stress-busting tips, as well as advice from people in our sector on what helps them and their team.
Recognise the signs:
Stress is a natural response to challenging situations. A little bit can be a good thing: it helps us get things done or focus on something that needs our attention. However, chronic stress can have negative effects on both physical and mental health.
Recognising the signs of too much stress is an important first step, and shouldn’t be ignored. These include: fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and even physical symptoms like headaches or stomach aches. While it may be easier to recognise these signs in yourself, it’s also important to know what signs of stress to look out for in employees and colleagues.
Promote open communication:
Foster a culture where employees feel comfortable discussing their stressors. Encourage open discussions about stress and mental health. Create spaces where individuals can share their experiences without fear of judgement.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs):
Provide access to EAPs, which offer confidential counselling and resources for employees dealing with stress or other mental health issues. Our helpline provides access to emotional support, 24/7. Since print, paper, packaging, publishing and graphics businesses can be round-the-clock operations, on-demand emotional support provision is vital. This is particularly true for Mark Young, MD of Bluetree, who explains; “As we run a 24 hour shift here, having somewhere to point our team towards at any time of day is incredibly important to us.”
Training and workshops:
Conduct workshops on stress management, mindfulness, and resilience, which help to equip employees with practical tools to navigate stress in the workplace. Time out of the working day to concentrate on wellbeing, such as ‘lunch and learn’ sessions, are becoming increasingly common in our sectors as organisations realise the value these provide in supporting employees through stressful times. Mind.org.uk has come up with more useful tips on how to cope with stress at work.
Encourage help-seeking behaviour:
Emphasise the importance of seeking help when needed and reinforce the idea that asking for support is a sign of strength, not weakness. Creating this culture has a powerful positive impact, as Kim Hill, HR Business Partner and Wellbeing Lead at Paragon, has found. “People have told us that they feel so much better for reaching out,” and this promotes a culture of collaboration, support, and resilience. When individuals feel comfortable seeking assistance, whether for emotional or practical challenges, they open the door to learning, problem-solving, and self-improvement.
Stress Awareness Week runs from 30 October – 3 November. Find out more about the campaign, and events happening throughout the week.