Managing Work Pressure and Anxiety

Overcoming stress when overwhelmed with life and work.
Anji McGrandles
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We spend around a third of our life at work so feeling positive, happy and motivated about our jobs is important and workplace wellbeing only reinforces this.  However, this past year has been mentally challenging for most people.  From a workplace perspective we have had to adapt to home working, taking our job online and juggling carer responsibilities while trying to stay motivated and positive.   As an employee it is crucial that now more than ever you tap into as many strategies as possible to support your mental wellness at work.  Recent *research revealed that UK workers have increased their working week by almost 25% more than before the Covid pandemic hit.  Additional research from remote team-building firm, Wildgoose found 44% of UK employees reported being expected to do more work over the last year, with those at mid-sized firms most likely to report an increased workload. The surveys also showed home workers taking shorter lunch breaks, working through sickness, and more workers being “always on” as the split between working and leisure time is blurred.  So how can you look after your mental wellbeing while we navigate this new world of work?  The key is to make simple adjustments to your mindset and routine.

It’s important to recognise that right now its normal to have days when we feel pressured, tired and are just not feeling motivated at work.  These periods can pass and are not always permanent however if you are feeling unhappy or anxious about work and it’s not going away, I would ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this feeling just a phase and do I believe things are going to improve?
  • Have I a good balance and have I put the necessary boundaries in place to protect my wellbeing?
  • How much of how I am feeling right now is down to my mindset and perception?

 

Identify what changes you want to see and what small steps you can make to move forward.

The key is not to make any knee jerk decisions.  Chat through things with your manager as they may have some solutions that will support your wellbeing.

Review your wellbeing and identify where it could use a boost.  For example, you might be doing well when it comes to diet and fitness but your mindset or coping strategies might need some work.  Once you’ve identified where you would like to level up then ask yourself what does good look like, what changes do you have to make to get there and do you need any external support?  By setting small goals within a big goal you stand a better chance of successfully making changes.  The key is to take action, don’t put it off or think about it too much.

The workplace can at times be a pressured environment (even from an online perspective) so it’s important to be proactive and put in place measures to manage your mind.  Some practical ways to do this include:

  1. Plan and prioritise.

One of the biggest challenges we face at work is time pressure which leads to us feeling stressed and juggling workloads.  By planning out your time and tasks you will feel more in control of your working day.  Write down everything you need to do, even if it’s to grab a pint of milk from the shops or exercise over your lunch, get it all down.  Then prioritise tasks that are going to have the biggest impact and then plan them around when you are most effective.  So, if you are more productive in the morning do the important stuff then.  Chunk out your time in one-hour slots – this will stop you procrastinating and spending too long on one task.

  1. Take regular ‘mind breaks’ throughout the day.

Build into your working day time to break.  When we are busy and under pressure it’s easy to motor on through the day without a break.  This leads to mind overload.  Taking regular breaks keeps you fresh, helps you reset and recharge and disrupts the bodies stress cycle.  Quick and easy ways to do this include: making a cuppa, taking a brisk walk around the block or practising a couple of belly breaths away from your desk. 

  1. Keep perspective.

It’s easy to lose perspective when we are in a workplace bubble. We can overthink and situations can often feel bigger than they actually are.  Check in and ask yourself how much of this stress is in your head and is it as bad as you think.  A good test is to ask yourself ‘what advice would I give my best friend if the shoe was on the other foot’. 

If you are struggling with pressure or worried about your mental health, try not to put any additional stress on yourself, talk to a friend and someone at work and go through solutions and strategies that feel achievable and will support you

 

* According to 2021 data from the business support company NordVPN Teams.

Anji McGrandles is a UK-based mental wellbeing expert and founder of The Mind Tribe, a workplace wellbeing consultancy.

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