Remember: a general rise in anxiety before an important event such as a Board meeting is normal. Indeed, it’s the body’s way of protecting us from danger; the fight-or-flight response allows us to react faster to emergencies. However, if you observe prolonged signs that indicate a downward spiral, the employee may need help.
The following suggestions for managers can help reduce the likelihood of anxiety in the workplace:
Match employees to jobs that fit their abilities and skill set; define clear roles and set consistent boundaries.
Set reasonable, achievable deadlines in which staff should complete work – better still, involve employees in the planning of their workloads.
If you need to speak to a member of staff, do it in private – avoid reprimanding them in front of other colleagues.
Maintain open lines of communication so that staff can express their concerns regarding workplace issues. Encourage an honest and open work culture whereby employees do not feel too intimidated to voice their opinions and concerns. Stress to all employees that there should be no stigma associated with mental health issues and lead by example.
Offer opportunities for employee training and development to reinforce motivation levels.
Implement detailed records of absence to enable you to identify anxiety and mental health issues more easily.
If a staff member suffers from an anxiety disorder, try and provide them with the additional support that they require.
Encourage employees to take regular breaks. Once in a while, meet them in an informal setting, such as a café, to help them unwind.
Find activities that promote teamwork and a feeling that “you are not alone” in the workplace.
If a member of staff is struggling, encourage them to try some of these coping strategies:
Maintain a healthy work-life balance. Long hours and overwork can leave anyone feeling irritable, exhausted and unable to concentrate. Lack of sleep, obsession with work and lack of relaxation can result in anxiety disorders that can sap us of vitality and energy. A balance between work and life creates harmony between different aspects of our lives.
Communicate clearly if there are any stressful jobs or situations. If the workload is too much, or work hours are too long, ask employees to communicate this clearly to resolve the issues before they trigger anxiety or stress. Bottling up emotions or sweeping problems under the carpet will only compound anxiety issues.
Make time for regular exercise. Research has shown that physical activity helps us relax.
Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep makes us nervous, irritable and exhausted. Sleep deprivation reduces our ability to cope with anxiety. Just a few tips for a better night’s sleep are:
Get enough exercise during the day to ensure a good night’s sleep
One hour before bedtime, turn off all electronic devices
Avoid stimulants such as tobacco, alcohol, caffeine and recreational drugs
Practise meditation to calm the mind and centre thoughts
At the end of the work day, switch off physically and mentally. Don’t keep checking for messages, emails and voicemails. Diverting our minds to other activities will help reduce anxiety regarding work and helps us move away from work-related issues.
Sit down and write down the things that are important to you. Prioritise your passions, hobbies and work in a way that works for you. Mismanagement of time and neglecting your priorities is likely to result in a rise in anxiety levels.
Make use of online resources, such as mind.org.uk, www.anxietyuk.org.uk, www.verywellmind.com
If further help is needed, it’s important to consider talking to a professional.
Helping your workforce with their mental health is so important, we can help you with these issues and advice you of the best next steps, please get in contact with us for a chat!