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Managing stress in a high pressure environment

Posted by
15 May 2015
In a tough economic climate, the pressure is on to make sure you work harder than your colleagues, take on additional projects, ,manage a workload which usually would have been split between two or three people, and even work more than one job. This has, understandably, left some of us burnt out over the past five years.

However, as the economy has grown and stabilised, we seem to still be stuck with this 'all or nothing' mental attitude. As this mentality within individuals continues, there appears to be a correlation between this aspect of working and stress as it increases in the workplace.  

As a recruiter, it's not uncommon for candidates tell me that the main reason they are looking for a new role is because they feel overworked, underappreciated and generally worn out and stressed. As this scenario is becoming more and more common place, what exactly are the best ways to manage stress with a high-pressure environment?  

Deep breathing - the most common advice for managing a stressful moment is to breathe deeply. Breathing is obviously an automatic function of the body. However, when we feel stressed or anxious, our breathing rate can change as part of the 'fight-or-flight response'. Instead of panicking, just breathe in deeply and feel the tension slowly melt away. Not only can controlled breathing reduce stress, but can also lower blood pressure and heart rate, boost physical energy and improve the immune system. 

Exercise - exercise in all forms helps to refocus your energy, tire you for a good night sleep, and work out any frustrations. Yoga and Pilates in particular focus on the re-energising of the mind, deep breathing, and stress-relieving stretches.

Eat well - by  'eat well' I don't just mean what you put into your body, but also how you eat. If you're working in a high pressured environment, make sure you take a lunch break. With emphasis on the word 'break'. Don't just garble down the nearest fast food you can find, whilst continuing to work through that overwhelming workload. Instead, take a healthy meal and eat it away from your desk, slowly.

Take a walk outside
- when things are getting on top of you it's hard to focus on the task at hand. Do something that seems counter-intuitive and take a walk - the fresh air will clear your head and lungs, giving you time to slow down and focus. Recent research has found that a half hour walk on your lunch break can reduce stress and increase relaxation. What's more., a walk is more likely to make you feel more motivated and can increase workplace productivity.

Talk to someone
- if things are getting too much, make sure you speak out. Whether this is with your manager, a colleague or someone outside of your pressurised work environment. Talk to them about how you feel, not just about things that happened. Sometimes it takes someone else to help you realise that the stress you feel is actually having a more serious impact on your mental health.
 
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and stress all too often has a negative stigma attached to it which prevents those who need help from reaching out! If you feel stressed try the above tips, seek help, and remember you're not alone.

If you're feeling stressed in your role and seeking a new position, why not speak to one of our specialist consultants for a confidential chat on 01332 542580 or check out our latest opportunities here.
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