If we increase our understanding of what is happening inside us we have a better way of developing our own methods to manage stress. There are additional methods of managing stress to help us along way.
Modern life can be stressful, if unmanaged over a long period of time it can damage our health and at worst lead to worklessness and an early death. At work, there is a mutual responsibility between the employer and employee to manage stress in the workplace. The employer must fulfil its legal obligations. As employees, we can raise our self-awareness to avoid some of the pitfalls of stress to maintain good mental health.
There are many ways that we can support our mental health but first of all we need to know how we're doing. When life gets busy we often forget to check in and see how we are actually doing and whether or not we're ok. So take some time to get honest with yourself. How are you doing? If things are great, then ask yourself 'what can I do to keep this going? How can I protect this great feeling and ensure I stay this way?'. Perhaps you know you've got a busy or stressful time ahead this week – start planning how you are going to look after yourself and ensure better mental health this week.
Here are a few tips and tweaks to ensure better health this week and to start thriving with better mental health:
- Get more sleep. Treat yourself to an early night and get some extra Zzzzzzz's this week. Sleep allows our brain to better handle stress and strain and is a great way to look after yourself.
- Digital detox. Even though it can be hard to disconnect it's important to switch off your phone, iPad, TV and laptop and take time out. Not only will you sleep better (see above!) but comparison is the thief of joy and too much social media has been linked to poor mental health. It's easy to forget that when we view social media we are seeing other people's highlight reels not their day to day reality. So take some time out. Use the time to focus on your life and forget what others are doing.
- Treat yourself. It doesn't need to be expensive but even if it's time out to have a bubble bath, curling up with your favourite book or five mins to enjoy a cuppa make sure that you take some time to treat yourself. When we get busy, stressed and overwhelmed we tend to fall down our own priority list and it's important to look after yourself. A little treat reminds your brain that you are worth looking after and will encourage more opportunities in the future.
- Eat well. It's not a complicated theory and the simple truth is eat rubbish, feel rubbish. Your body can only process what you put in it so make sure that you eat plenty of colourful fresh food which will leave you feeling great, full of energy and positive. Also lay off the booze. Whilst it's tempting to unwind with a glass or two, alcohol is a depressant so if you're not feeling great then alcohol is not your friend and will actually make you feel worse (and not just the hangover!).
It’s useful to be able to separate the facts from the myths when looking at mental health.
Managing Change at Difficult Times
Change can impact your general wellbeing and feel stressful. It’s important you try to take good care of yourself and make sure you have adequate support around you during times of change. The Mental Wellbeing Subgroup have collaboratively designed a flyer on Managing Change at Difficult Times that identifies some common responses to change and reminding staff where they can get support if needed. You can share this flier on your intranet or hang in the mess room. Hard copies are available upon request. Please contact us via our Customer Self-Service Portal to order.
Workplace stress & Occupational Health Services
Can better use of occupational health (OH) expertise be the next step toward to easing the organisational and human burden of workplace stress?
The NHS provide a free mood self-assessment online tool. It uses questions that GPs often use to assess whether someone is anxious or depressed. It also includes links to useful information and advice on mental wellbeing.
The Health & Safety Executive Management Standards
The Health and Safety Executive has published a framework covering six areas that might result in an employee or employees suffering stress at work (the HSE Management Standards). Rail companies can measure their performance against these standards and identify areas for improvement.
How to have a conversation about mental health
The Samaritans have created an interactive online programme which teaches people active listening skills for the workplace, as well as the skills to manage their own emotional health and look out for others, before they reach crisis point.
Six Steps to Return to Work
We have created a return to work resource page that includes a free online toolkit. This has been published by researchers from Kingston University, Loughborough University and Affinity Health at Work. The website guides employers and employees through six steps, including how to deal with absence and communicate about mental health. The Return to Work website also features templates for absence letters, facts about mental health and checklists for each stage of sick leave. It also has a comprehensive guide for returning to work, that includes exercises such as identifying work priorities.
The ORR’s Position Paper on Work-Related Stress
The ORR’s position paper on work-related stress sets out the ORR will work with the industry to harness the health and business benefits of better stress management. They highlight preventing stress through organisational changes and job design, supported by good practice interventions to help individuals stay well and at work.
Where to go for help
Lending an ear to someone at work who’s in distress could be all they need to move forward. Or it could be a chat with their line manager to sort out work-related problems. However, if you think somebody needs more support, these signposts could help.