By Zoe Blyth
Whether you are a paid member of staff or a volunteer, working at CA EDP can be stressful at times. Stress can come from a particularly challenging client or case, a heavy workload or perhaps the session is just really hectic and you feel overwhelmed with how much you have to do in a short space of time.
It’s important to recognise when we are stressed and learn how best to manage it. Allowing ourselves to live and work under intense pressure for a long period of time can sometimes put us at risk of developing more serious mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. In addition to this if an individual is already living with a mental health illness additional stress could worsen this condition.
Coping With Stress At Work
The message here is you don’t need to cope alone. Speak to your manager, a colleague or contact our Chief Officer, Helen directly. You will always be supported.
However, here are some general tips:
- Be aware of how you feel, recognise the signs when things start to feel overwhelming and ask for help.
- Ask yourself what is particularly stressful and what helps with those feelings – speak to your line manager or supervisor, a discussion about reasonable adjustments could help ease some of your worries.
- Learn coping strategies – these are generally different for everyone but perhaps some deep breathing, or engaging in mindfulness practice, focusing on the here and now to find calmness and clarity in a stressful situation or when anxiety levels are running high.
- Engage in hobbies and activities that bring you pleasure, such as walking or gardening, listening to music going out with friends for a walk and coffee. When we make time for ourselves for things we enjoy this lowers our stress and anxiety levels and gives us lovely boost of dopamine one of our happy hormones. More about the role of hormones and mental health another time….
- Eat well, eat the rainbow, choosing a wide range of fruit, vegetables and keep processed foods to a minimum. There is much research about the role of a healthy diet and our mental health. Something we will be visiting in a later article.
Looking after your welling is important, even if you don’t currently suffer from stress or anxiety, even if you have never suffered from stress or anxiety. This is because when we take care of ourselves, take care of our wellbeing, this builds our resilience, meaning that when we hit a sticky patch on the road of life we are able to adapt and recover more quickly.
Resilience is not only someone’s ability to bounce back but also a measure of an individual’s capacity to deal with pressure and reduce the impact that stress may have on our lives and maintain stable mental wellbeing.
- Resilience is something we can all develop regardless of our individual personalities or traits.
- We can develop our assertiveness and communications skills
- Engage in relaxation techniques
- Develop interests and hobbies
- Spend time with friends – positive relationships are amazing for our mental health
- Find balance in your life – taking time out for yourself is so important – yes you do have time to do that art class you’ve always wanted to do or take half an hour to sit quietly with a cup of tea and a good book
- Get enough sleep – this a topic for future articles
- Be active – a subject close to my heart and again I will be sharing some stories with you on this subject in the future
- Eat healthily – food and mood …sooo important
- BE KIND TO OURSELVES!!! This is in capitals because we are often our own worse critics “I should do this…I should do that”…we are all guilty of this I’m sure. We are NOT superhuman – putting extra pressure on ourselves by setting impossible goals is counterproductive. The more stressed and anxious we feel, the less effectively we tend to work.
- Celebrate the successes (and we have lots in our work). When you have succeeded in helping that client win at tribunal tell a colleague. Congratulate yourself, be proud.
Finally try not to worry about talking to colleagues, a supervisor or Helen about stress or feeling overwhelmed and anxious. It is not a sign of weakness or something to be scared about sharing. Your wellbeing is important and we take it seriously.