Anne Morrison

Member Article

How to banish the Monday morning blues from your workplace

Do you find yourself waking up on Monday morning and wishing it was Friday afternoon? Does your stomach turn when you hear your boss’s voice down the corridor? Do you find yourself snapping at your loved ones as you try to concentrate on the work you’ve brought home from the office?

We’ve all heard the saying “Don’t bring your problems to work” unhelpful as it is. But what can you do if your problems are at work?

You are not alone

The NHS website states that, “Psychological problems, including stress, anxiety and depression, are the underlying reason for one in five visits to a GP.” Research shows that these problems are having a knock on effect in the workplace too.

A survey, published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development this year, showed that “stress is one of the most important reasons behind long term sickness absence from work” and that “stress-related absence is increasing.”

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), work-related ill health accounted for 23.4 million sick days between 2009 and 2010. Of those incidences 870 in 100,000 were due to stress, depression or anxiety.

Q1: What is stress?

According to the HSE, stress is “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other demands placed on them”. It might be a reaction to being overworked, to being bullied or to big changes at work including positive things like promotion.

Q2. Who can suffer from stress?

Stress can affect anyone in the workplace.

Q3: How can I recognise the signs of stress?

The NHS website has a page with a tool to test for workplace stress: http://www.nhs.uk/tools/pages/workplacestress.aspx. The tool deals with issues like time management, changes within the workplace, working hours and relationships with colleagues and supervisors.

Q3. What does stress actually feel like?

The symptoms of stress are many and varied. Stress affects how you feel, how you think and how you behave. It also affects your body. For example you might find that you feel low or irritable, you might find that your mind races with worries or that you have a short fuse, your appetite for food and sex changes or that you struggle to focus. Physically you might notice that you suffer from more headaches, that you have indigestion or are constipated. You might start to sweat excessively, feel tension in your muscles and have trouble sleeping.

Q4. What can I do to help myself?

There are many ways that you can develop coping strategies to handle work related stress. You can also look into ways of changing how you think about things when you feel stressed.

- Go for a walk.

- Getting some fresh air and a change of scenery can allow you to put some space between you and the stress-inducing situation.

- Get some exercise.

- Exercising releases endorphins or ‘feel good’ hormones into the bloodstream. It can also make you feel more resilient and stronger. A short walk up and down the office or up and down stairs can help to lift your mood.

- Learn to meditate.

- Meditation can help you to feel calm in the midst of very stressful situations.

- Eat and drink well.

- A good, balanced diet will help to give you the strength to cope with stress. Foods that are full of salt, fat and sugar can cause mood swings, while slow release carbohydrates and proteins can help to stabilise how you feel.

- Too much tea and coffee can leave you feeling dehydrated and pumped full of caffeine which can lead to a dip in your mood. Drinking alcohol when you are stressed can also make you feel worse.

- Talk to someone. Ask yourself how bad things have to get before you will ask for help. If you don’t want to talk to anyone face to face then you can call the Anxiety UK helpline, the Samaritans or NHS Direct and ask for help.

- Download an app.

- The Anxiety UK website has a free ‘Stress Tips’ application for use on smartphones.(http://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/get-help/mobile-application) Anxiety UK’s Chief Executive Officer, Nicky Lidbetter, said, “Anxiety affects 1 in 6 UK adults, and Stress Tips provides sound advice from people who have been there and know what it’s like. We want to show people that they are not alone and that they can take steps to feel better.”

- Self-hypnosis MP3s

- You can listen to a self hypnosis MP3 at home or somewhere quiet in your lunch break. (http://www.annemorrison.co.uk/categories/Help-with-STRESS/) MP3s will give you some much needed time out and help you to develop a sense of calm and self confidence that will help you to combat stress.

- Take a step back.

- How are the people around you coping at work? Would it help you to be able to take a step back from your situation, to distance yourself from your emotions and look at your situation more rationally and objectively?

- Post-it

- Writing down a selection of positive quotations that resonate with you and pinning them where you can see them at home and at work can help to make you feel better and buoy you up when you feel down.

- Writing down three positive things, no matter how small, about each day at the end of the day can help you to change the way you think about your situation.

- Be good to yourself.

- Watch a favourite funny film.

- Spend time with people who boost your mood.

- Say no to spending time with people who bring you down or sap your energy.

- Investigate psychological support either through the NHS or privately.

- Counselling

- Psychotherapy

- CBT

- Hypnotherapy and NLP

- Coaching

Q5. What can employers do to help their employees?

The culture in most places of work comes from the top and filters down through all the employees. Stress in the workplace can be prevented by:

- Developing a culture of open communication.

- Identifying key competencies for preventing and managing potential causes of work related stress.

- Making space for employees to voice their concerns confidentially in a way that makes them feel secure - and not inadequate for experiencing a problem.

- Developing a culture of productive and constructive problem solving.

- Moving away from a blame culture towards a solutions-focussed style of management.

- Encouraging colleagues to work together and support each other at all levels.

- Being objective and honest about evidence of stress in the workplace - keeping an eye on frequent sick days, employees working longer hours or not taking annual leave, complaints of illness or an atmosphere of low morale.

- Asking for regular feedback from employees.

- Removing the stigma from mental health issues - making people aware of what symptoms to look out for and putting processes in place to stop them getting worse.

Q6. What can happen if stress is left untreated?

Stress can affect the well-being of people at all levels of a company. Left untreated it can lead to long term sickness leave, resignations and to potential compensation claims.

Q7. What are the consequences for employers if they don’t tackle workplace stress?

The HSE Stress Solutions Discussion Group has identified the rate of common mental health problems at about one in six of the working population which means that, “any organisation which has more than ten employees is practically guaranteed to have someone with or at risk of developing symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.”

In real terms this can mean a work force that does not function to the best of its ability, capacity or capability. Morale may be low, employees may be absent for long periods of time and the ‘Monday morning blues’ may affect the entire organisation and last for the entire week.

It can also mean that some companies may fall below the Management Standards set by the HSE (http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/standards). The Standards cover the primary sources of stress at work, including the demands of workload and work pattern, control over the way an employee works, the support provided by the organisation, his or her working relationships, the employee’s understanding of his or her role in the organisation and change management within the organisation.

Companies who fall below these standards may be at risk of financial costs as compensation payments for occupational stress are increasing. Recent case studies on the HSE website detail payments of six figure sums by UK organisations to former employees as a result of stress-related conditions.

Q8. How can I help?

It’s an old saying but in this situation it’s a very apt one. ‘Prevention is better than cure.’ If you can identify the symptoms of stress listed in this article or feel that stress is a problem in your workplace then I can help you. Many smaller companies don’t have access to employee assistance programmes or the occupational health provision found with private health care plans. This is where I can help.

As a Stress Management Therapist I offer bespoke workshops, training sessions, one to one stress management and well being sessions and online support through www.annemorrison.co.uk. Staff from NHS Scotland, North Tyneside Children’s Services, local government and private clients from a variety of business sectors and at all levels of work have benefitted from learning mental resilience, coping mechanisms and strategies with me. I have experience of working all over the world as a trainer and coach with people from all walks of life.

Q9. What are the benefits?

On a very basic level I can help you and your colleagues or employees to look after your mental health and well being. I can also help your company to save money in the short and long term. With proper stress management support, organisations can reduce and pre-empt employee absences, anticipate changes with effective communication and avoid paying out large amounts of money in compensation.

Q10. I think I/we might need some help.

Great. You can contact me to discuss your needs. I look forward to hearing from you.

Anne Morrison
Stress Management Therapist and Coach
Carmor Associates
Tel: 0191 300 0933
Mob: 0790 57 35 457.
www.annemorrison.co.uk

She sees private clients at:

The Coast and Chiropractic Clinic
62 Bedford Street
North Shields
NE29 0AR

Area of expertise:

Anne Morrison, MBA, is a qualified coach, master NLP Practitioner, clinical and cognitive behaviour hypnotherapist. She specialises in work-related stress, stress management, change management, business development.

She is a member of the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis, the Federation of Small Businesses, Institute of Learning and Management and an associate member of the Association for Coaching.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Anne Morrison .

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