No matter how hard you're working, it's imperative that you keep your mental health and stress levels in check
In today’s dynamic business environment, the job of a senior leader has never been more rewarding, yet demanding. An ‘always on’ culture and a global workforce operating 24/7 means that we are now expected to take on more responsibility than ever before, while finding it difficult to switch off – hands up who checks emails in bed?
It is therefore no surprise that new research from Bupa Global, the international health insurer, has found that nearly half (49 per cent) of senior leaders from worldwide companies have suffered from stress. An additional two fifths (43 per cent) of executives surveyed said that they have experienced some other kind of mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression. A near-unanimous 94 per cent of those asked agreed that work had an impact on the development of this condition.
Dr. Søren Carstens, Head of Clinical Operations at Bupa Global, comments: “Stress in the workplace occurs when there is an imbalance between the demands we are facing during work and the resources we have to cope with it. Coupled with a lack of mental health support for employees, it has the potential to lead to absences, dips in productivity and lower levels of job satisfaction. Every industry is different, but managing stress levels and making sure that effective support systems are in place can have huge benefits for both businesses and staff.”
The good news is that nearly half (46 per cent) of businesses already have some kind of formal system in place for senior leaders, such as counselling, helplines or stress awareness workshops – but there’s more that individuals can do to help themselves. No matter how hard you're working, it's imperative that you keep your mental health and stress levels in check. In partnership with Bupa Global, we bring you five stress-busting tips for a happier work life.
Breaking a sweat is proven to reduce stress hormones (chemicals produced by your body) and stimulate the release of endorphins, known as 'happy hormones'. These in turn work wonders for your mental health, making you feel uplifted and energised. Exercise can also raise your self-esteem and help you sleep better. The verdict? Lace up those running shoes.
Yoga and meditation
Finding time to stretch out and breathe deeply is good for your mind and body in a myriad of ways. Research has shown that a yoga and meditation routine will help stave off stress hormones, restoring balance and equilibrium. Yoga will also improve muscle strength, flexibility and posture, as you breathe out all of that pent-up anxiety.
It is well known that eating a balanced diet is good for our health, but it also has a pivotal effect on our mental wellbeing. Take time to enjoy a mood-boosting diet of fruit, vegetables and omega 3s, ensuring to eat regularly. Stress-busting foods include salmon, walnuts, blueberries and the Instagram stalwart, avocado. In turn, avoid food that aggravates the nervous system of your gut, such as sugar, alcohol and dairy. Drinking enough water will also help your body manage the physical response to stress much better, so make sure you load up on aqua throughout the day.
Be the best version of yourself
Staying in a calm state behind a persona you’ve developed for the office will help you to remain detached in a stressful situation. This persona should obviously be based on who you really are, but developing calmer characteristics can help you deal with others who might struggle to cope under pressure.
A lack of communication is one of the greatest sources of conflict in the workplace. Practise reading other people’s moods and body language, while being mindful of their emotions and behaviour. Astuteness is at the heart of effective communication.
While prevention is ideal, many of us encounter workplace stress despite our best efforts. If you think you are suffering from depression or anxiety, or can’t cope with stress levels at work, talk to your doctor, your manager, or your HR department. Your employer will be able to tell you what support systems they have in place to help you manage your mental health.
Sources: Bupa Global, Bupa UK and BBC Good Food; bupaglobal.com