New research has shown the COVID-19 pandemic and related stressors have resulted in a 64% increase in stress related absence since 2019, HR News reports.
While bursts of short-term stress can focus the mind and energise the body, prolonged stress can lead to physical health problems including raised blood pressure, lowered immune system, problems with digestion, aggravated skin, increasing tension which can make headaches worse, and in some cases, an imbalance in hormones.
There are many ways for individuals to manage stress according to Livi (an online GP service):
- Exercising regularly; exercise boosts the production of endorphins, which can improve your mood and reduce anxiety.
- Get enough sleep; try to reduce stimulants like screen time, caffeine and alcohol a couple of hours before bed. This will enable your brain to shut off, allowing you to drift off more easily.
- Try meditation, yoga or mindfulness; research shows this is great way to process and alleviate stress.
- Eat healthily; a diet with plenty of fruit and veg can positively impact mood, and there are many food that will help stress.
- Talk about your problems; connecting socially by speaking to loved ones and friends can help to relieve stress. Connecting with yourself is equally important. Make sure you have plenty of ‘me time’ by doing things you enjoy, treating yourself and making time to relax and switch off.
What can employers do to help?
Alison Gill from advo hr says:
Employers have an important part to play in managing employee stress; talking to staff and taking complaints about stressors a level seriously can help to minimise the impact on the employee.
If you are concerned for the wellbeing of any colleagues, please do consider what support can be offered from your business. Particularly during the pandemic, maintaining regular contact with those who may be vulnerable or in isolation is important, often being in work is a life-line to some.
Employee Assistance Programmes are often very useful in times such as these, providing an extra line of support for employees. If you already have Employee Benefits in place, your providers may offer an online wellbeing support tools or an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) service. EAP services offer counselling and support on a variety of issues which may help employees to reduce and/or learn to manage their stress in a different way.
If you do not have an EAP or wish to review or maximise your current employee benefits offering and would like to know more, please get in touch. In the first instance you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to start a conversation.