Work-Related Stress

“If it wasn’t for my team I don’t know how I’d survive”.

That’s a saying I’ve heard from so many around me and I’ve said too many times myself.

Whether you are part-time, 9-5 or a manager of your own company, we’ve all experiences work stress at some point but the question is, how has it affected you?

When I am worked to the bone I keep going for months then all of a sudden I’d wake up one day and say “I can’t today”. I’d lay in bed for 40mins thinking about how drained am I. My body shuts down; I get flu-like symptoms and the thought of getting up and going to work makes me sick. After 2 days I’ll feel back to my usual self and re-energised. This happens once or twice a year due to the busy environments I’ve worked in. I am not alone. I’ve known people to gain acne, rashes, sleepless nights and much more due to the pressures of working life. On top of work stress, we sometimes feel judged for taking annual leave or taking a sick day; adding more stress to the situation. Work-related stress creeps up on us in different ways, however, it’s about how we deal with it.

I was stressing over a role and industry I had no interest in. The stress of my manager, other employees and the daily tasks overall was unbearable. On top of that, I was putting pressure on myself to move jobs and begin my desired career. Due to putting up with this stress for so long I decided to stop working completely, for a month; enough was enough. Bearing in mind I’ve been in constant work since I was 17 and now I’m 25, it was hard to switch off and just do nothing. I got into part-time work that allowed me to pick my hours and I took up volunteer work. I stopped applying for jobs and looking at job sites. From this break I can honestly say I’ve never felt better; I became more focused on me and my health. Yes, I was anxious to wake up every morning without a job but I was also relieved and excited because I was open to opportunity and change.

Recommendations:

  • Try to leave work at work- As soon as you leave work, focus on you. If there’s work you have not completed, don’t dwell on it; work is not the end all. Go home, run a bubble bath, connect with friends/family/partner(s) and deal with it tomorrow.
  • Fight for your annual leave- Sometimes it’s a struggle to get the days you want or you are unable to take annual leave due to a busy period at work however don’t let this stop you. Read through your contact, speak to HR if needed and make sure you make use of what work offers and make sure you know your rights in terms of annual leave and working hours.
  • Unwind- Don’t be someone who gets into the pattern of work and sleep. Being outdoors whether you are casually walking around town or cycling around the park has huge mental health benefits. If being outdoors is not your thing…do what you love. If you love spending your weekend playing video games, watching movies, cooking; make sure you put time aside for this.
  • Talk about it- Sometimes we love a good rant. I literally feel a weight lifted off my shoulders when I rant. I strongly advise you don’t rant to your manager or anyone you work with but, talk to your friends/family/partner(s) and let off some steam. Never bottle up your feelings otherwise you may turn into a walking timebomb at work. If the situation at work is bad and you want advice, talk to HR or occupational health, they are there for a reason.

Work is a replaceable element, always put your health first!

LESSON ON DEPRESSION

It’s not that deep until it happens to you.

I read that once and it’s so real. We sympathise, listen and nod along but never fully understand or ‘get it’ until we ourselves have been in that position.

I am so glad there is now a bigger awareness of mental health. Looking back, I first started getting depressed during my first year of University in 2012. At the time I didn’t know I was depressed and blamed it on low moods and change of environment; thought it was just a late moody teenage phase. If there was more of awareness back then I believe I could have dealt with it a lot differently and my life choices overall would be a lot different.  Instead, I left University, got a job to keep busy and went back to another University several months later. Things got better but with the ups and downs of life, the depression always followed me. It took 5 years to finally seek professional advice and to finally tell my friends and family. Instead of constantly replying to messages saying “yeah I’m good thanks, you?” I was actually expressing myself better and able to say ‘you know what I’m actually not good today and here’s why’.

After seeking professional help I realised University wasn’t the reason for the depression; it played a minor part however, I was triggered. In the year 2014-15 statistics show 1,180 students left Universities in the UK due to mental health (1). Shocking right? And we can only assume today that number has increased. I have always been bubbly, somewhat life of the party but when you’ve been depressed for so long your mind adapts and learns how to act around other people; its hard to know what someone is going through under the exterior.

I have dealt with people who have been depressed due to family life, being unlucky in love, not being able to find work and people who genuinely haven’t worked out why they feel this way. As mentioned before, you will never be able to pick a depressed person out of a lineup, however, bearing this in mind we can work through this together to make life easier. During mental health awareness week, I tweeted about my issues and I’ve never felt so free it; to finally be open. Depressions job is to eat away at us, so don’t let it. Unleash your true feelings; even if you write it down and throw the piece of paper away- at least that’s a start.

Further recommendations:

  • Make use of my services. My service is real and relatable in comparison to someone who is talking from theories and studies. With my experience and knowledge, we will be able to make a strategic plan to be a better you.
  • Seek professional help. Contact your GP and they will be able to refer you.
  • Get reading. If you are not ready to talk to anyone about your feelings, a great start would be to understand your mind and how to tackle the issue:
    -Depression: A practical guide – The Flag Series by Dr Harry Barry
    -Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari
  • Stay active to keep your mind active. Whether you say yes to all social events or pick up a new hobby; don’t let depression know you’re sitting at home letting it get you.

For further assistance/advice on depression, please comment or click ‘Let’s Talk’.

Reference:

The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/may/23/number-university-dropouts-due-to-mental-health-problems-trebles

ANXIETY

Anxiety sometimes sees you moving on with life then taps you on the back again.

Anxiety can be formed from starting a new job to a developing fear (example, fear of flying on a plane). At times I’ve confused worry and anxiety so having anxiety attacks at 3am made me do my research. One thing I have noticed and studied, is worry can be defined as more verbal and within us whereas, anxiety is more mental imagery and takes a toll on us physically.

Anxiety is a tough topic and is something we all easily hide from the people around us but we must not be afraid to speak out! If you are not ready to speak the word anxiety out loud…write it down. You already have so much going on in your mind, a diary is a great way to release the tension.

One thing I have learnt from my past experience in therapy is to write down my fears and what I am thinking at the exact moment I feel anxious. Grab a piece of paper and write: What could happen vs What will happen and list all the things you can think of in relation to your anxiety. We don’t know what will actually happen as we cannot see the future, so why fixate on what could happen?

Ideas to take your mind off anxiety:

  • Keeping Active- Try Yoga, fitness classes or as I’ve recently done, join a gym. These are great ways to blow off steam and to put negative thoughts into something positive and life-changing.
  • Travel- doesn’t matter whether its a day trip to Brighton or a weekend in Spain. Get some distance!  I live in London and the busy of life here does begin to feel like a  game of mouse trap. As soon as I head away from London I  feel such a relief and the air feels clearer; travelling is not only an  escape but its  therapeutic whether by yourself or with friends/family. 
  • Try a range of herbal tea- Especially ‘night time tea’.
  • Meditate-  or have relaxing baths with candles. Alternatively (and a favourite of mine) go to a spa once in a while. Spa breaks are everything! In addition to having a massage or using the sauna, a lot of products used at spa’s have physical and mental health benefits.
  • Read- Spend time educating yourself on anxiety, or just read for pure pleasure and escapism. None of these recommendations will 100%  cure you of anxiety but reading or doing something you love is a good way to  switch it off for a while.

For further assistance/advice on anxiety, please comment or click ‘Let’s Talk’