Today is National Stress Awareness Day so there’s no better time than now to talk about stress.

In 2016/2017, an estimated 12.5 million working days were ‘lost’ in the UK due to work-related stress. Apart from the obvious impact on UK businesses, left unaddressed this can lead to serious illness in later life.

In light of International Stress Awareness Week this week, employers and employees should take some time to support positive workplace health.

Here Halcyon Life Founder Paul Heywood gives his top 5 ways to reduce stress in the workplace:

Take some time.

Find some time in your week just for you.  ‘Me time’ is often at the bottom of the to-do list so why not flip it this week and find some time to do something you love.  Taking time will help re-energise you and give your mind some space.  Maybe a coffee with a friend, a brisk walk at lunch time or a bike ride after work.  Just one thing this week is easy to achieve surely?

Speak out.

More than 1 in 3 people feel that they don’t have anyone to talk to about their work-related stress.  But don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Speak to a line-manager, HR or a colleague if things start to become too much.  We can all feel overwhelmed at times so speak to a trusted friend.  Just saying it out loud can shift some of the weight.

Create a healthy culture.

One for all the employers out there.  It’s time to step up and lead from the front.  You want to create a culture where employees can speak out so it’s essential you create a comfortable, positive environment to allow employees to feel able to speak up when they’re feeling bogged down.

Even small steps can make all the difference.  Why not ask employees for feedback on the current situation and how they think things could be changed to enhance wellbeing?  Listen to your teams and work with them.  Small changes will be make a big difference to building a more productive working environment.  Open up the communication channels and ask them how they’re currently feeling and what they would like to see changed.

Get outside.

For those of us in the UK it’s hard to get outside at this time of year.  Cold days and dark evenings are hardly inviting but it’s important to get out of the office during the day.  Maybe encourage a walking break during the day when energy levels drop off?   Fresh air and exercise are winning ways to reduce stress but getting people together in this way is also a great way to build positive, morale boosting relationships.

Get off grid.

We all need to switch off, no matter how busy we are but it’s important for employers and managers to lead here.  Research earlier this year showed that a third of people (32%) worry about work, even when they’re at home.  Having constant access to emails on our phones means that for many, we’re always ‘on’.  Managers sending emails to teams at 8pm can lead to employees feeling the need to reply immediately, when in most cases the next day would be fine.  So make it clear to your teams that they don’t need to check emails late at night and over the weekend.  Allowing your teams to take time out will create a more refreshed, energised and motivated team during office hours.

Halcyon Life run Wellbeing & Resilience programmes working to achieve healthier and more productive workplaces.  Our next programme will take place in February 2019.  Get in touch if you’d like to find out more about how we can help your teams with stress in the workplace and take a look at our team of experts.