Although stress is defined as a mental health issue, we will all experience periods of stress throughout our lives. In fact, the fun people at the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that 45% of Australians between 16 and 85 will experience a mental health issue at some point, and that includes stress!
At uni, skyrocketing stress levels might be due to exams, a submission deadline looming, or not being able to find a space to park – when you’re already late for class - and the world of work is no different. Deadlines, and a lack of parking, may never ever go away, sorry.
Luckily, there are a number of pieces of advice that can assist you to manage and take control of your stress levels in a workplace. Over the next few days off, give some thought to how you can build these tips into your work day:
Limit extra working hours
There may be times you are required to work outside of your normal hours, but try not to make this a regular occurrence. We already spend the majority of our time at work so give yourself regular time to spend with friends, family or just doing what you enjoy doing – that isn’t working!
Take regular breaks
Taking regular breaks throughout the day is proven to help both physical and mental health. Obviously, take them within reason – a break every half hour might be pushing it! Think 10 to 15 minutes every few hours. Check out this article from Psychology Today on why breaks help your brain.
Try not to take work home
Taking work home prevents us from switching off and tips your work/life balance in the favour of the work side. Take time for you.
Set realistic deadlines and deliver on time
Setting unrealistic expectations for yourself can be a key contributor to stress. You wouldn’t aim to complete a three hour exam in an hour, so why do the same with a work/assignment deadline?
Make use of Employee Assistance Program
Most companies will have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). These are free and confidential, and can often be used to speak to someone regarding work or personal issues. Check your company website or onboarding info.
Go for a walk during your break
Now that you’ve been encouraged to take regular breaks – you’re welcome - think about what you can do on those breaks. Something as simple as going for a walk, particularly outside, for a few minutes can be great to refresh the brain and body.
Sleep well/ eat well
Never underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep, not only does it relive stress, it also makes you live longer. Don’t trust me on this, trust the clever people from Harvard Medical School. The same goes for nutrition.
If you find yourself experiencing life issues that are causing you stress, there are a number of support services that can be contacted outside of office hours. Some are 24/7 phone lines for support and/or counselling for a number of life issues, including a personal crisis. You can call for yourself and/or provide this information to someone you may be supporting too.
- Curtin’s Student Wellbeing Advisory Service - 1800 244 043
- Lifeline - 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
- MensLine Australia 1300 789 978
- Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
- Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36
- Headspace 1800 650 890
- QLife 1800 184 527
Stress is a normal part of life, but if you feel you can’t manage or it’s getting out of control, remember you are not alone.