Work is a common source of stress for everyone. But why? What causes it? And what can you do to cope with work-related stress before it affects the rest of your life?
Stress isn’t an illness. But if stress-related symptoms aren’t managed, and the pressure we feel exceeds our coping techniques, our mental health can suffer.
There are many reasons you might feel under pressure, overwhelmed, or stressed at work. A few common triggers are:
We often spend more time at work than with our loved ones. It’s therefore crucial for our mental health that we prevent, or minimise, the impact of these issues.
“I would get very stressed at work because answering phone calls and emails was unbearable for me. “
Here are some practical tips on how to cope with these challenges, from caba’s mental wellbeing specialist, Kirsty Lilley.
No one understands workplace stress better than your colleagues. They can be a big source of support when it comes to the management of everyday tasks, and during periods of uncertainty.
However, relationships with colleagues can become strained because of things like working conditions, workload inequality, bullying/harassment, or personality clashes.
If you’re having difficulties, try to:
There are many demands on us in the modern workplace. Add that to an increased sense of competitiveness, where people’s value is attributed to how busy they are, and it’s not great for anyone’s mental health.
Technology also blurs the lines between rest and work, as we become available 24/7.
Developing boundaries to manage other people’s expectations of you is important.
Learning to be more assertive and say ‘no’ will help prevent resentment from creeping in as a result of work overload.
To say ‘no’ with context, focus on being honest and explaining what can - and can’t - be done.
Good time management helps you stay in control, increases your productivity, and means you can manage your workload better. But how can you do that?
There are lots of tools out there to help you manage your tasks and time more effectively. Try our free online course: Do more in a day than you do in a week to learn more about time management.
“I was working day and night yet still not achieving what I felt I should be. I kept thinking ‘What am I doing wrong?' Looking back, I'd say that my inner voice was quite critical - I was focusing on what wasn't working out and being quite hard on myself about it.”
comment from course attendee
Figuring out your priorities helps you keep track of where you want to be without putting too much pressure on yourself.
Do you want a promotion? Are you working towards a different role? Do you want to learn a new skill?
Keeping the bigger picture in mind ensures you don’t get demotivated or lose sight of your goals.
Focus your energy on what you can change.
It’s really easy to worry about the future, or things that may never happen. Live in the present as much as you can. Focus your energy on what you can do today.
At the end of the day, reflect on what you’ve achieved. Highlighting these things makes you consider what you can control and influence around you.
Whether it’s restructures, budget cuts, or other adjustments, change can be difficult.
Change is particularly stressful when you feel your opinions weren’t heard. So if your employer invites you to participate in planning or evaluations, speak up.
Getting involved when you can give you a greater sense of control. At the very least, this will provide a better understanding of why decisions were made.
This article was written for caba by mental wellbeing specialist, Kirsty Lilley
We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW)1, ACA students2, ICAEW staff members3, and the family and carers of members and students4.
You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer page.
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*Please note none of our other services are means tested.