How to support your staff during National Stress Awareness Day this year
Stress-related illnesses are among the biggest causes of both short and long-term absence in the UK, with 79% of SMEs reporting stress-related absence in the last year.
Heavy workloads, working relationships and family and health problems are all contributing factors. National Stress Awareness Day (Wednesday 3rd November 2021), aims to raise awareness of the effects of workplace stress and offer both support and strategies to address the issue.
Unum, a UK employee benefits providers, has shared some top tips to help employees better manage stress in their personal and professional lives.
- Manage your workload and hours
If you are struggling to manage your workload, it can be easy to slip into bad habits and work later or earlier than your core hours. However, working significantly longer or later each day is not beneficial and can lead to extra stress or even burnout. If you do find yourself in this situation, the best thing to do is to speak to your line manager.
Ensure you can give a clear idea on how long certain projects or tasks are taking you and what you need to help lighten the load. Map out the key short-term priorities and longer projects that need more planning — that way you’ll be able to better manage your time.
- Give yourself clear breaks
It’s important to factor in breaks throughout your working day, whether you’re in the office or at home. Start by trying the 40:20 rule: For every 40 minutes you sit, ensure you spend 10 minutes standing or moving followed by 10 minutes of stretching. This helps reduce the pressure and strain on your joints.
If you’re tight for time, microbreaks away from your workstation are equally beneficial. These can range from 30 seconds to 2 minutes and can be filled however you see fit, whether that is making a cup of tea, washing a few dishes or sending a quick message to a friend or colleague.
- Get active
By reducing stress and increasing energy levels, physical activity makes us feel more alert and can help us sleep better. But you don’t need to spend hours exercising — there are so many benefits from just taking a little time out of your daily schedule even for a short walk. In the colder months, it’s a good idea to try and exercise at the start of the day so you can benefit from the sunshine and vitamin D before you sit down to work.
- Use external resources and support
Many employers offer their staff access to an Employee Assistance Programme for 24/7 confidential support and advice.