April has been Stress Awareness Month
We all have felt stressed at some point but it’s not always easy to identify what has triggered it.
For many in the construction industry, stress has become a daily occurrence; a feeling they cannot get away from.
The main causes being cited as long hours, budget concerns, workloads, projects away from home, tight deadlines and client demands.
And this has been supported by a 2016 survey from UCATT (now Unite)* which found that 76% of the construction members who were asked had at some point suffered from stress in the workplace.
These are worrying statistics and so, for Stress Awareness month, our H & S team looks at stress and some ways to prevent it taking over.
When stress peaks in our bodies it can feel like a heart attack. Sufferers complain of feeling unable to breathe, everything closing in on them, problems with their eyesight and hearing.
It can happen at any time, day or night, and become so bad that you don’t want to leave your house or even be alone.
One sufferer commented, “Everything was closing down, the sound was muffled, everything was drawing in on me, I couldn’t get my breath in. You don’t get enough oxygen.”
A graphic description of stress culminating in a panic attack. In severe cases stress induced panic attacks can continue for months, to the point where sufferers feel unable to leave their homes in case one occurs. One sufferer described it as “one of the darkest times of my life,” a complete breakdown.
In our fast-paced, hectic lifestyles more and more of us are affected by stress. It can cripple the way you function, your relationships with family, friends and colleagues, your work and home life.
To help, here are some simple measures which can help tackle common contributors to stress:
Do Some Digital De-cluttering
Whether you’re a complete technophobe, or surgically attached to your phone or laptop, technology is a constant in life and can create its own stresses!
The constant bombardment of information clutters up screens and inboxes making it more difficult to focus on things of real importance. Try these tips to remove digital clutter:
- Re-organise your computer’s desktop. Keep it simple & tidy – remove unused icons.
- Audit your e-mail accounts. Delete accounts you rarely use and unsubscribe from unwanted mailing lists and blogs.
- Set up a logical filing system for your documents and delete files you don’t need.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
The benefits of a good night’s sleep are wide-ranging and well-documented. Restful sleep lowers anxiety and improves brain function. So, if you’re not sleeping well, and it’s contributing to your stress levels, you could try:
- Avoiding alcohol, caffeine and chocolate after 3pm
- Eating your evening meal before 8pm.
- Training your body to wind down at the end of the day. Develop a relaxing bedtime routine; switch off electronic devices (‘phones, TVs, tablets), and read or listen to soothing music instead.
Work Getting you Down?
It’s not uncommon to feel tired after working all day, but problems can occur when you are continuously tied to your desk or feel like you are fighting a losing battle to get the job done. This is when tiredness can easily tip over into stress. But what can you do?
- Ensure you take a break from your desk and aim to move every hour. Maybe get up, walk around the office and make a hot drink.
- Try to not eat lunch at your desk. Take the opportunity to enjoy a quick five-minute walk in the open air.
- Try to look for the positive moments in your day. This can be anything like chatting to your colleagues.
- Speak to your manager or HR department. Small changes can be made to your work to help alleviate your worries, but you don’t know what can be done until you ask.
- Make the most of your time outside of work especially with family and friends. These small moments can help boost your mood and help you recharge.
For more tips to help manage your stress levels, read Dorling Kindersley’s ‘Stress: The Psychology of Managing Pressure.’
Feel like you’ve tried everything, but nothing works? Don’t suffer in silence. Consult your GP or other professional to help you manage your stress before it takes over your life.