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Let’s not let a traffic jam lead to murder. 5 steps on how to reduce stress from the workplace

I’m not much of a fan of Michael Douglas, but for some reason, I ended up watching a reasonably old film of his not too long ago.

Falling Down was the film’s name, and rather worryingly, it resonated with me. Why worryingly? Well, it happened to be about an average guy who reaches the end of his tether and then lets rip on the world in a murderous rampage.

Don’t panic! I’m not about to go on a murderous rampage (I am, however, a massive fan of serial killer documentaries, but that’s a story for another time), but the feelings that Michael Douglas’ character had resonated with me entirely.

Yes, he was angry about being stuck in a traffic jam that tipped him over the edge. I fully understand that anger, and if you’ve been stuck on the A12 or M25 for hours on end, you would too! But no, it was the feelings that had been building up over a long time that caused him to explode in a murderous rage.

Feeling of hopelessness and not being worthy are common

You’ve all probably felt hopelessness, despair, anger, and “not being worthy”, at some point, especially when it comes to the world of work. You might just get those feelings from just having a pretty bad day, or they might merge into a terrible month or even longer.

These feelings, when left to fester or reoccur, can often be a sign of depression. One of the main symptoms of depression is feeling irritable and intolerant of others, which can worsen. Some people may even respond with anger attacks which are often inappropriately triggered by trivial matters when suffering from severe depression, which again makes me think of what happened in the film.

While this article isn’t going to focus on all the causes of depression, it will focus on how the world of work can cause it and what you can do as an individual from reaching that point, especially the point of going on a murderous rampage.

More professionals are suffering from mental health problems in the workplace

Let’s start with some general statistics.

Research analysed by the Mental Health Foundation found that 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace. At the same time, women in full-time employment are nearly twice as likely to have a mental health problem as full-time employed men.

But why is this happening?

We live in an era where for many, we only seem to be living to work. You might work in a job where you could have:

  • Unrealistic targets
  • Excessive working hours
  • A high workload
  • Someone asking you to do things outside your competency level
  • High psychological demands
  • Sudden difficulties with colleagues
  • Unclear objectives and a lack of support for your work.

Over time, dealing with these issues day in and day can lead to those beforementioned feelings. I speak from experience after working in education for 10 long years. However, there are steps you can take to help reduce the impact workplace issues can have on you.

5 steps to reduce the impact of workplace problems

  1. Take back your free time for hobbies

Make sure you keep time for yourself. This could be ensuring you set aside time to read every day, go for a stroll or take part in your favourite sports.

All are vital to helping you relax and realise there is more to life than work. When you find you start having no time for the things you enjoy, that’s when those negative feelings can begin to raise their ugly heads more frequently.

  1. Practise self-care

This could be anything from mindfulness to just maintaining a healthier diet.

Mindfulness is a technique that can help you to engage in the present and enables you to let go of what has happened in the past. Even though it’s not my cup of tea, many people swear by it, and studies have shown that it can help to reduce the symptoms of depression.

Staying active is also a great way to promote self-care as it releases the stress of your day. You can make it into a social activity to spend time with your friends and, what’s more, it can ease symptoms of depression.

Maintaining a healthy diet has also been shown to help lift people’s moods. That does not mean cutting out some of your favourite treats (indulging in your favourite treats occasionally must be some form of self-care!)

However, ensuring you have the correct vitamins and minerals can help to reduce the risk of depression. If you didn’t know already, vitamin D and vitamin B12 deficiencies could cause low moods.

  1. Take essential breaks

If you’re a high achiever and love to be the best at whatever you do, sometimes you may feel you need to give 110% for the entire workday or take on more than you should. However, consistently doing this can harm your mental and physical health.

Take those breaks during your workday, remember to book those holidays, and make sure you turn off all work-related emails when not at work.

  1. Talk it out

Talk about it. If you’re struggling with your workload or unable to achieve the work-life balance you need to be healthy, see if you can speak with your line manager about ways to improve this. If you feel you can’t discuss this with your boss, the time has come to think whether this is the job for you.

If you have negative feelings after a day at work, speak to a friend or spouse, and get it off your chest. Speaking to a professional could also be of benefit. Letting it build up and lead to those negative feelings becoming more prevalent and the feeling of being supported by someone will make you feel less worthless.

  1. Ask for help and delegate your workload

This can be the hardest tip to follow for some people (myself included!). You might not want to let people know you’re struggling just in case you think they believe you are not up to the job but delegating your workload and asking for that help will really help you in the long run, especially with your work-life balance.

If you run your own business, delegating tasks that are not your speciality, such as marketing, can take a weight off your shoulders and free up your time.

Moving forward

Struggling with negative thoughts and feelings can make you feel isolated and lonely but trying to implement just a few tips could benefit you and help stop the slide down that deep black hole that depression can be.

Remember this: “work to live, not live to work”. If a job or workplace is causing you mental health problems, perhaps a change is needed to help you live a happier life and prevent anyone from going on a murderous rampage as is the case in Falling Down.

We all need help at times, so please speak to someone if you’re struggling. Here at Yardstick, we are always here to help if you need help in delegating your workload to aid you in getting the work-life balance you need.

To find out how we can support all your marketing endeavours, email or call 0115 8965 300.

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