We all suffer from stress and anxiety from time to time, but what happens when it all gets a bit too much at work?
While we all strive for career success and happiness, that doesn’t mean we don’t suffer from stressful weeks or even months.
When that happens, it can take a serious toll on our mental health. Work stress can lead to anxiety and dread, to the point where you don’t want to go to work at all.
Then, there can be other pressures outside of the workplace that can make your job that bit more difficult. Whether it’s a stressful family situation, financial struggles or an illness putting extra strain on you, it can have a major impact on the rest of your life.
Since we spend about a third of our lives working, it’s important that we feel well and happy while we’re there. This is where companies can step in to ensure that their employees are feeling OK.
Caroline McGuigan, CEO of mental health organisation Suicide or Survive, is running wellness workshops in locations around Ireland and online.
The charity also runs specific workplace programmes and has recently partnered with Sky Ireland to bring wellness to its 1,000-strong staff.
What companies can do for wellness
McGuigan said that while other companies often talk about the importance of wellness without actually following through, Sky Ireland is actively putting a lot of resources into ensuring that its employees’ wellbeing is looked after.
“There’s a lot of tokenism,” said McGuigan, noting that many companies would get in touch with them to deliver a half-hour wellness seminar just for the sake of it. “We don’t want to just do a check-box anymore.”
Instead, the workplace wellness initiative aims to deliver practical ways of coping at work to team members.
“We share tips and techniques that de-stigmatise the subject of mental health at work,” explained McGuigan.
The programmes have been assessed by Trinity College Dublin and Dublin City University, and are endorsed by the HSE.
Health should be a priority for companies as well as individuals. After all, if individual staff members are suffering, they need to feel comfortable coming to someone within their organisation.
“It will come down to your company culture and whether or not people disclose that they’re anxious,” said McGuigan.
So, how can companies ensure their employees feel comfortable discussing their wellness? By having an open and honest culture and checking in with employees every so often.
Even before a company starts thinking about wellness programmes, improving communication between the corporation and the staff will help them feel supported. It will also make any sessions you do invest in more meaningful.
As McGuigan said, it’s all about separating tokenism and buzzwords from real, impactful action. Much like promoting diversity, there’s a big chasm between saying yes to wellness in the workplace and actually making it happen.
All seminars, workshops and programmes can be tailored to suit the needs of specific workplaces.
How employees can improve their own wellness
When it comes to your own wellness, McGuigan suggests sussing out someone at work to talk to. She also said there is a huge amount of online resources available.
One of the first things you can do if you feel like you are suffering at work is to identify your triggers. What is making you feel anxious or panicked? Is it a looming deadline? Projects piling up on your desk?
Take regular breaks, even when you feel like you don’t have time to take one. This will help you to avoid burnout and lower your stress levels.
You should also start practising mindfulness. Taking time out to be mindful will lower your anxiety and stress levels, no matter what’s on your mind.
If work stress is getting too much, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your colleagues. When it’s external factors that are affecting your wellbeing, find someone to talk to.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a colleague, there are alternatives, from online wellness workshops to counselling.
If life is starting to take its toll, remember that you’re not alone and there is help out there.