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Start Living Stop Stressing My IoD article in full

National  Stress  Awareness Day is on the 3rd of November 2010. Stress management has never been more relevant than it is today.  Hectic lifestyles, demanding jobs and financial pressures, all contribute to a feeling of being ‘under stress’.

Whereas stress itself is not an illness, but a state of mind, a prolonged feeling of excessive stress can make you ill, literally. Stress has been linked with high levels of sickness absence, staff turnover and other indicators of organisational underperformance, including human error.

“As a manager you have a legal and moral duty to ensure that work does not adversely affect your team. Understanding how to spot the signs of stress and then knowing what to do to reduce stress is the way forward,” says Richard Maybury from Priority Management.

‘Based upon my training conversations with thousands of people, as well as looking at all the relevant research, I have concluded that the biggest cause of work related stress is that sense of feeling out of control. It is generally not the volume of work, unrealistic targets, nor the team being stretched thin per se. It is that sense of not being able to control the competing (and often conflicting) priorities within a demanding workday.’

Richard has 3 tips to help regain that sense of control and thereby reduce your stress:

  1. Give yourself a good talking to: Given that you probably can’t work any harder on a sustainable basis, ask yourself how robust your current workload and priority management processes are. How are you currently building the personal productive capacity that will future-proof you.
  2. Reconnect with your purpose and strategy, both professionally and personally. Aligning our purpose to our priorities within our workloads helps us make tougher decisions easier.
  3. Create clarity: Use fewer management tools and integrate them better. Too many people use too many tools to manage their information flows, their commitments, To-Dos, ongoing projects and all the other inputs that make up their total workload. Treat reliance on Memory as a tool in this regard. Trying to manage competing priorities in your head whilst thinking on your feet  rewards reactivity, contributes to crisis and chaos management and is – in itself – a major stressor for oneself and those who deal with the fallout.

Some key statistics about work related stress

In  2008/09 an estimated 415,000 people in Britain believed that they were experiencing work-related stress at a level that was making them ill (according to the Labour Force Survey

The 2009 Psychosocial Working Conditions (PWC) survey showed that around 16.7% of all working individuals thought their job was very or extremely stressful.

Self reported work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounted for an estimated 11.4 million lost working days in Britain in 2008/09

Research amongst GPs showed that 30.9% of all work-related ill-health are cases of mental ill-health, with 26.8 working days the average length of sick leave

The International Stress Managament Association is holding the 12th annual National Stress Awareness Day on 3 November 2010.  To find out how your organisation can get involved visit www.isma.org.uk/national-stress-awareness-day/index.html

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