Tomorrow (Wednesday 5 November) is National Stress Awareness Day, and this year’s theme is ‘stress: the balancing act’. So many of us have such full lives that it’s often difficult to balance our various commitments such as work, family, hobbies, etc. The aim of this awareness day is to get people to stop and think about what is causing stress in their lives and to do something to make a positive change.
Work is by no means the sole cause of stress, but it’s certainly a major contributor for many, particularly for those who struggle to switch off fully from work. Improvements in technology, such as smart phones and the almost universal availability of internet connections, mean that we are always contactable. Even holidays aren’t sacred for most of us – in order to facilitate a smoother return to work after our break, many of us check emails and phone messages throughout our ‘time off’… just in case.
Those who work full time spend over 20% of their lives in the workplace, so it’s not surprising that stress levels at work have a major impact on a person’s wellbeing. Thankfully, organisations can do a number of things to look after the mental and physical health and wellbeing of staff, yet these don’t have to be major undertakings. Simple changes to employees’ daily routines can make a great difference, for example:
- making sure employees don’t eat lunch at their desks;
- organising walks and outdoor activities on the day;
- reminding employees to turn off their smartphones and not to check emails after they leave work;
- having healthy snacks available and healthy meals in work canteens;
- encouraging openness about mental wellbeing.
For more information about marking National Stress Awareness Day in your workplace, see the associated website or Facebook page, or the International Stress Management Association’s Twitter page. Or, for more general guidance on work health issues, including stress and mental health issues, take a look at the Health for Work Adviceline’s blog and knowledge base.