Managing stress

Taking care of yourself to avoid stress

This page is for everyone. More information for managers can be found here.

Some pressure can be motivating, but when it becomes excessive or prolonged it can lead to stress and ill-health.

Stress is “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures and demands placed on them”, according to the Health and Safety Executive.

Stress can arise as a result of work or personal issues and can often be down to a combination of factors that build up over time.

Realise when you are stressed

Stress is not an illness itself, but it can cause serious illness if it isn’t addressed. It’s important to recognise and act on the symptoms early.

Commons signs include:

  • Sleeping problems
  • Loss of appetite or food cravings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling anxious, irritable
  • Experiencing a loss of confidence and self-esteem
  • Constantly worrying and going over things in your mind
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Constant tiredness

Advice from the NHS and the Employee Assistance Programme

There is lots of advice available to help you prevent and tackle stress.

See the Ten stress busters recommended by the NHS and advice from the Employee Assistance Programme

Top tips to avoid feeling overloaded at work

Plan each day, with time for work and other tasks, and time for relaxation.

  • Take regular breaks, have lunch and avoid working long hours over prolonged periods
  • Plan and take your annual leave
  • Get up and move around regularly, take a walk, get some fresh air – even 20 minutes makes a difference
  • Stay hydrated and eat regularly
  • Think about flexible working options that  suit you and your job
  • Plan and prioritise, make a list of things you have to do, try not to do too many things at once
  • Speak out if you’re struggling to cope or take on more
  • Make sure you are focusing your time and energy on the things that really matter

At the end of each day, reflect on what you have achieved rather than spending time worrying about what still needs to be done.

Talk to someone

Use One-to-One meetings with your manager to talk things through, seek guidance and raise concerns. But don’t wait if you’re struggling – your manager will take the matter seriously, treat anything you say sensitively and confidentially and will want to work with you to find ways to alleviate the pressure you are feeling.

Use this questionnaire to help the discussion.

Your manager may want to seek more advice on how best to support you, by referring you to the Occupational Health Service.

Connect with colleagues around you. Developing positive relations with those you work with is important. You can listen to them and offer support when they are in need as well.

If you don’t feel able to speak to your manager, speak to another manager or perhaps a colleague or a trade union representative.

Find out about the coaching and mentoring on offer, this may help you manage particular work challenges.

Or contact the council’s Employee Assistance Programme for

  • Over the phone advice or counselling
  • A one-off appointment which helps you problem-solve or clarify an issue.
  • In certain circumstances, referral to someone more specialist to help with your issues
  • Face to face counselling

Learn how to build your resilience

  • On offer is an excellent short course to help develop personal resilience. Click here to book and type in “stress”.
  • Watch the Five Ways to Wellbeing NHS videos
  • Free courses are also available around the county from our partner Oxfordshire Mind.