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Describe ways to manage stress and how to access sources of support

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When you are feeling stressed and have recognised the signs and causes, you should attempt to find ways to manage it. This can involve communicating with others to get support, such as your manager. Managing stress positively should be encouraged rather than using negative coping strategies, such as substance abuse.

Taking regular breaks from work with physical or mental activities like running or reading can help to relax and revitalise your body and mind. Social interaction and spending time helping others can maintain relationships and improve confidence and self-esteem. You may want to join some local groups, such as Yoga or meditation or join a local gym. You can find out about these on the Internet or offline advertising, such as billboards, posters or local newspapers. These strategies involve making time for yourself rather than constantly working. Another important strategy is being assertive and learning that you can say ‘No’ to new tasks if your workload is becoming too much.

You can take care of your body by making changes to your diet to make it healthier, drinking water every day and establishing a routine for going to bed and waking up that ensures you get enough sleep.

You should share your issues with your manager, who will hopefully be empathetic and supportive and help you to plan ways that you can reduce your stress to healthier levels. This could involve additional training, support or even a reduction in workload or time off to recuperate. They may also be able to offer ideas around time management and organisation based on their own experience. If relationships with your colleagues are causing stress, your manager may suggest a conflict resolution meeting. As well as an unplanned discussion with your manager, planned meetings such as supervision and appraisal can be an opportunity to handle stress. In your supervision, you can discuss with your manager any areas that are having difficulty with so that they can offer advice and support you to manage them more effectively. Your appraisal is an opportunity for you to look back over the year and identify the areas where you have improved and made achievements – this can help you to see the positive side of your work. If you do not feel your manager is being supportive, you could speak to you Human Resources (HR) department or escalate it to a more senior manager.

As well as support from within your organisation, you may also access external support. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) can help you to resolve employment issues that you may not feel comfortable approaching your manager about. Other charities such as Samaritans and MIND have helplines that can provide support. You may feel that you need to consult with your GP to tackle physical or mental conditions that are contributing to your stress levels.

To summarise, some ways to manage stress include:

  • speaking to your manager
  • reducing your workload
  • taking time off to relax and recharge
  • spending more time with friends
  • getting more exercise
  • changing diet
  • meditation
  • getting more (or in some cases less) sleep
  • reducing substance intake e.g. coffee, alcohol, smoking
  • attending stress management courses
  • speaking to a counsellor

Example question and answer

Evaluate the effectiveness of three different strategies for managing stress.

Stress can be managed in many ways.

Very often, simply talking to someone about you feel can alleviate the stress. This could be in the form of offloading worries to a loved one or explaining to your manager why you will be unable to meet a deadline. This is a simple, yet effective, way to manage stress.

Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation can be a useful way to combat stress as it allows you to take time to relax, reflect on the problems internally and maybe come up with some solutions. Again this is easy to do but can also be very effective.

Going on a stress management course can help you to learn techniques to manage your stress more effectively. Although it may be useful in the long term, this would not help with any immediate stresses as you would have to wait until the date of the training.

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