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How to be resilient and manage stress at work

Posted on: 06 Nov 2019, admin

In 2018, a study by the Mental Health Foundation revealed that 74% of people [in the UK] have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope. Stress is one of the most common mental health issues we face today, and it affects both our home lives and working lives in equal measure.

Today kicks off International Stress Awareness Week (4–8th November), and the theme this year is ‘Resilience: the power to succeed!’ 

Resilience is very much a workplace matter. It’s a learned skill that’s required at every level –  from junior positions to the executive roles – and in every sector. It’s often falsely understood as an innate trait we either have or don’t have, but this is not the case. 

The good news is, there are strategies we can adopt to improve our resilience and ability to ‘bounce back’. Here are some tips on building personal resilience and managing stress at work.

Build your own personal resilience

More often than not, resilience is about agility – the ability to be flexible and open to change. It’s harder for some than others, especially those who like routine and being in control. But the reality is, things happen in life – and the workplace – that are completely out of our control. 

Every day people are experiencing set-backs at work, so how do we overcome these and move on to the next opportunity? Here are a few ways you can build your own resilience: 

  • Physical resilience – stay hydrated, eat healthily, sleep and set limits for using technology. Make sure you’re work space is set up correctly, for example with correct lighting and your desk and chair are at the right height to support your back
  • Mind-set – our ‘failures’ in life are necessary for growth. Try and reframe any set-back in work as an opportunity to try something else and explore new avenues   It may be worth referencing the work of Carol Dweck who wrote a great book called the “Growth Mindset” – find it on Amazon.
  • Social relationships – nurture these and lean on friends and family for support. It’s friendships that get you through the tougher times – never underestimate the importance of human connection


Manage stress at work

We’ve all experienced varying degrees of stress at work. Whether it’s struggling to manage your workload and respond to all your emails, or the threat of redundancy after a dramatic restructure. Some of us manage stress well, whereas others need to work at it. 

The workplace is an ideal place for people to build resilience and manage stress. Here are a few ways you can learn to combat stress more effectively. 

  • Communicate – this is key. We’ve all heard of the phrase ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’, and it’s true. Talk to your line manager if you’re feeling overwhelmed and need support. Alternatively, go out for lunch with a colleague and talk through any issues you have. Sometimes it just helps to offload and get a different perspective on the matter. 
  • Prioritise – If you’ve got a huge to-do list that just keeps growing, take 20 minutes and go through each item using the red, amber, green system. Highlight any urgent task that needs dealing with that day ‘red’, and subsequent tasks that are less urgent, ‘amber’, and ‘green’. Be realistic – there are only so many hours in the day. It’s better to do the job properly, than juggle multiple jobs at a time and end up with a job half-done. A great book for you is “Getting Things Done” by David Allen.
  • Set boundaries – If you’re feeling overwhelmed with an overwhelming workload, it might be that some of the responsibilities and jobs you’ve been allocated, are not in your remit. This is called ‘work creep’. Refer to your job spec, or if you no longer have it, request it from your manager or HR. Cross-reference any responsibilities against the work you’re doing on a day-to-day basis, and raise any inconsistencies with your line manager.  

If you’re interested in a new role then Ascendant Recruitment can help you!  Give our MK team a call on 01908 200270 or our Northampton team on 01604 439380 and we will see what we’ve got to suit your skills and expertise!