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Strategies for keeping aware of own stress levels and for maintaining wellbeing

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

NOTE: Although this page has been marked as complete, it has not yet been peer-reviewed or quality-assured, therefore it should be considered a ‘first draft‘ and any information should be fact-checked independently.

For this assessment criterion, you will be required to evaluate the psychological and physiological effects of work-related stress.

A useful definition of the difference between pressure and stress is provided by the Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association (CABA):

As long as you perceive you have the ability and resources, both internal and external, to cope with the demands being placed on you, you are subject to pressure and not stress.

CABA

Therefore, stress occurs when an individual feels that they are unable to manage pressures and workloads. Anxiety is a feeling of worry or fear that is constant, even when stressors are removed. It can develop as a result of too much stress. Whilst pressure may motivate us to achieve our objectives, too much stress and anxiety can lead to us making mistakes and affect our physical and mental health, leading to conditions, such as high blood pressure, insomnia and depression.

As a manager in health and social care, stress can be caused by high workloads, a lack of resources, a lack of support and difficult relationships as well as the emotional effects of practice (e.g. the death of a resident, disclosures of abuse etc.).

Whereas causes are the underlying factors that allow stress to manifest, triggers are the thing that actually makes them happen. For example, a heavy workload over a period of months could be the cause of stress but the trigger might be the one work phone call on your day off.

As a manager, you should be mindful of signs of stress within your team so that you are able to offer support when required. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have published a list of common signs of stress within teams, which includes decreased performance and high staff turnover and absence. Signs of stress in individuals can include increased emotional reactions, mood swings, tiredness, and withdrawal.

As a manager, you have a legal duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to assess the risks of work-related stress in your team members and provide them with advice and guidance for managing stress. HSE has published a workbook to assist you with this process.

It is important for managers to be aware of their own signs, symptoms and triggers of stress so that they can be recognised early and remedial action can be taken before it escalates (and leads to burnout or absence due to work-related stress).

Effective coping strategies must be used to reduce levels of stress. This can include ensuring that your workload is manageable and being able to say ‘no’ to demands that are not realistic. The way that you manage your time and delegate tasks to others can also help. Regular physical activity, a healthy diet, making time for social relationships and therapeutic activities, such as meditation and yoga can support your body and mind to cope with the stressors of your work.

Similarly, it is important to maintain a positive work-life balance so that you and your team are able to have downtime when not at work to relax and re-energise. This may include a policy of having set days when team members should not be contacted for work-related issues.

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