Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director of Mental Health at Bupa UK, offers advice for managers and employees to combat anxiety in the workplace
What employers should know
The modern workforce is a diverse one and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for improving wellbeing and reducing anxiety.
One in four people will suffer from mental health difficulties at some point in their life so it’s crucial that we continue to address the stigma that comes with mental health issues and create an open workplace culture where people feel comfortable seeking help. This is important as early intervention can help people get back on the road to recovery more quickly and drastically improve their wellbeing.
Our research found that more than half (51%) of workers are kept awake at night as a result of work stress and close to three in 10 (29%) say that they are currently the most stressed they’ve ever been in their career. Although short term stress can be good for us, being under pressure for a long period of time isn’t good for our mental health. Constant stress can make it difficult to perform at work and lead to anxiety and depression.
The reported rise is likely to be due in part to the fact that the stigma of mental health issues is shifting and people are becoming more open about how they feel. While this is a positive step forward it is important to ensure that people are able to receive the support they need in a timely manner – so employers need to think about putting a mental wellbeing strategy in place.
However, it’s also important that leaders take care of their own health – Managers can struggle with stresses and anxiety of their own.
Self-help tips for reducing anxiety at work
Almost two-thirds of our waking lives are spent at work and many of us regularly take work home so how we feel about work will have a significant impact on our personal wellbeing.
Common early signs of depression and anxiety are poor concentration, low mood, tearfulness, tiredness and lack of energy, talking less and avoiding social activities, drinking more alcohol and irritability and short temper.
Being healthy doesn’t just mean looking after the physical aspects of your health; it’s just as important to care for your mental wellbeing. Here are some tips I recommend which can really make a difference:
- Try to strike a balance between meeting your responsibilities and taking time to relax so you can reduce your own stress levels
- If you spend your days worrying about things, write your concerns down so you understand what is making you anxious. Once you have a record of your worries they may not seem so bad, or you can figure out ways to tackle them.
- Don’t bury your head in the sand. If you avoid situations or scenarios that make you anxious, you won’t ever overcome them.
- After you finish a task, take a few moments to pause and relax in a way that works for you. Go for a walk or try a relaxation technique.
- Take time to reflect on what you’ve achieved, rather than worrying about what you still need to do.
- Be kind to yourself. It’s important to acknowledge that everybody’s different.
- Try not to judge yourself against impossible standards; be realistic about things.
- Try to focus on the things you’re good at, rather than those things you don’t excel in.
- Try to eat well, keep active, watch your drinking, and get enough sleep. It might sound obvious but these can all have a profound effect on your mental health
- If you feel that anxiety or depression is overwhelming, or if you are having suicidal thoughts, talk to someone and seek urgent medical advice. You will get health, not judgement.