We all know what it feels like to be stressed, the feeling we get when we are under too much mental or emotional pressure. Since the recent outbreak of the coronavirus, life has changed for us all over the past weeks, as we have learned to live and work differently.

Some of us will have had to cope with increased caring responsibilities and many of us will have been separated from our loved ones. Naturally this will have affected our stress levels and our ability to cope.

Stress awareness

Feeling stressed is a normal part of life.  However, becoming overwhelmed by stress can lead to mental health problems or make existing problems worse. It’s really important that we regularly take time out to look after our health and wellbeing. For those of us who are managers, it is vital that we are engaging with our members of staff about their mental health, and providing the support they need.

The Charity for Civil Servants have launched a Wellbeing Guide App, free to download on Google Play and the Apple App Store. The app contains best practice and ideas from civil servants, along with a range of useful links and resources to help managers support the wellbeing of their team through periods of change and transition. Find out more about the Wellbeing Guide App.

Recognising stress

Stress affects different people in different ways. Below is a list of some of the common signs you might display if you are feeling stressed.

Physical

Mental

Behaviour

Headaches

Worrying about future

Tearfulness

Sweating

Imagining the worst

Eating more or less

Stomach problems

Being forgetful

Biting your nails

Muscle tension or pain

Difficulty concentrating

Avoiding others

Feeling tired or dizzy

Feeling irritable

Sleep problems

Sexual problems

Racing thoughts

Rushing things

Bowel or bladder problems

Rumination

Drinking or smoking more

Dry mouth

Making mistakes

 

Shortness of breath

Feeling low

 

You can find out more about the signs of stress at Rethink.org.

Tackling stress

There are ways you can manage stress in daily life. Some steps you can take to help you cope include:

  • be active
  • connect with people
  • make some time for you
  • set yourself goals and challenges
  • avoid unhealthy habits
  • help other people

If you’re feeling the effects of stress at work, think about talking to your manager or a colleague to help manage the situation.

You can find out more tackling stress at NHS.uk.

Support your colleagues

Your role as a manager, at any level in the NICS, is particularly important in identifying the causes of stress in work, recognising the symptoms in colleagues and ensuring appropriate steps are taken to address the situation.

In identifying potential causes of stress in your workplace, you could consider issues such as:

  • how well do I manage change? 
  • how effective and open is the communication between me and my team? 
  • do I set clear and realistic objectives and expectations, communicate them well and provide constructive feedback?
  • do I encourage my team to take their breaks/lunch and their annual leave?
  • do I discourage long working hours?
  • am I aware of all the flexible working practices available in the NICS to help my team achieve a good work/life balance?

More information and support

The NICS provides access to a range of support if you’re struggling to cope with stress. Find out more about the support on offer.

NICSHR L&D  has developed a variety of digital training products designed to help staff look after their own stress levels, and for line managers to support staff who may be experiencing stress related issues.

Find out more about what courses are available.

You can also ask for help in coping with stress from your GP. Other organisations and websites that provide support and resources include:

 

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