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Tips for handling work-related stress and anxiety

At WorkBuzz, it’s our mission to improve the working lives of one million people. Many of us spend a huge proportion of our lives working and, therefore, how we are feeling during those hours can have a huge impact on our mental health and wellbeing, which can lead to work-related stress and/or anxiety.

Last year, our Project Manager, Lilith Nagorski, completed a Mental Health First Aid training course which covered coping mechanisms for those struggling with anxiety and stress during their working lives.

At the time of the course, we were operating in an environment where you could see your colleagues each day and it was more visible when someone might be struggling with their mental health. Now, with more teams than ever before working remotely, it is perhaps all the more important to actively check in and see how our colleagues are feeling.

At WorkBuzz, we are very good at looking out for one another but sometimes it can still be hard to know how to respond or help when our colleagues react negatively to the stresses of day-to-day life (when we may not be directly involved). For that reason, we feel that it is important to share some techniques that our Lilith learned on the course for coping with work-related stress and anxiety.

That way, we are all empowered to help one another through any stresses we face, even if we are not physically in the office together.

The techniques below are intended to help slow panic or at least limit the physical effects and help the person regain control when they are suffering from a stressful experience. They can also be completed together as part of a 1:1 call or independently, depending on the person’s preference.

1. Aiding work-related stress and anxiety through movement

By getting the body moving, this helps to release the chemicals in the brain that can alleviate anxiety and shift focus to something else. If getting up and going for a run isn’t a practical solution, the NHS has a series of chair-based exercise plans that are great for home workers.

2. The method of breathing exercises

Focusing on counting the breaths and drawing them in is a powerful way to allow someone to regain control and focus on something other than the negative feelings created by the stressful situation. Some people like to just count the breaths (inhale for eight seconds, holding the breath for four seconds and exhaling for six seconds) whilst others prefer to visualise the breath.




3. Grounding to help regain control

In a stressful situation, thoughts can often become busy and overwhelming, contributing to work-related stress. A grounding exercise such as the 5-4-3-2-1 can help a person refocus and regain control. This approach encourages a person to describe, in detail:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can touch
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste

This exercise encourages you to focus on your immediate surroundings, thereby pausing the automatic negative thoughts, and emotional and physical experiences that come with stress and anxiety and refocus on the present moment.

Going forward, when you talk with your colleagues and you can sense that a situation is becoming overwhelming for either yourself or the other person(s), working through some of these techniques could be the difference between the conversation ending in a cloud of worry and stress, or in a positive and productive way.

For more information on how to be mentally healthy at work, please visit the Mind website.

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