Knowledge Centre for recruitment

Finding a Job - Managing Stress

Work Stress

Stress in the workplace

Modern Living
Stress in today’s modern world has now become a fact of life for most people. Whether physical (such as a loud noise, heavy weight, excessive heat or cold), or mental stress (such as guilt, anger or high expectations imposed upon us), stress related illnesses are now more prominent than ever before.

As we know, not all stress is ‘bad stress’ and our daily lives may even be a little dull without some sense of urgency, but the acceptable levels have long since been exceeded by most of us as we try to keep up with our increasingly fast paced lifestyles.

The stress impulse is no longer confined for emergency responses, occurring to give us increased strength and sharper reflexes alone to flee or fight. Today it occurs far more frequently and is now triggered by far minor situations. For example, when stuck in a traffic jam; late for work; stuck on another automated call queue or while shopping. As the adrenalin and cortisol pump into our bodies, we feel it’s effects of increased heart rate, hot flushes, irritability and sense of urgency and are often helpless to do anything but let it occur and possibly stifle our reactions.

Over time the gradual build up of these chemicals in our body can have long lasting and very often negative impact on us. In fact, high stress levels are often the source of many of today’s health issues. From depression to panic attacks and many more conditions in between, we are now aware more than ever, of the consequences of prolonged stress in our lives.

Work Stress
Work related stress is currently one of the main sources of stress for most people – some would say rated high on the scale along with bereavement and divorce. With longer working hours, shorter lunch breaks and ever increasing demands, it can be a vicious cycle which often takes it’s toll on the mental and physical wellbeing of those involved. As people spend such a large portion of their lives at work, this prolonged dissatisfaction or stress within one’s role, can have a huge impact on their wellbeing in general.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) claims that over 13 million days are lost each year due to work-related stress - and this costs UK businesses about £3.7 billion.

Despite being unhappy in their jobs, many people are reluctant to actively make changes and pursue a new job. The reason is often because the process of the job search itself, can often seem overwhelming and even more stressful than staying as they are. However, the dawn of a new year tends to be a time when people take stock of their situation and often decide to make changes in their life, including their job!

The Job Hunting process
Job hunting is a process which can seem daunting and quite often cause a lot of stress, hence it is understandable that many people drag their feet before entering this arena. Updating of cv’s, selling yourself to employers, registering with recruitment agencies, understanding the terminology, the rounds of interviews, follow up calls and often accompanying rejection… this is all part of the process and can be enough to put a dent in even the strongest person’s morale. Add to this the pressure of doing all of this outside of office hours and undetected by your colleagues and employer, and it’s easy to see why many give up early – if they even start at all!

However, with the proper preparation it does not have to be such daunting experience. With today’s internet age and increasing competition amongst employers and recruitment agencies, it can be a lot less stress than you think!

Top 10 Tips For a Stress Free Job Search

The following are some practical tips for approaching the job search process and managing your stress during this time;

1. Clear your mind
Before you begin your search, it is vital to take some time out to relax and get your mind into the right, balanced state for the search ahead. A clear relaxed mind is more likely to lead you on the right path, than a frazzled, exhausted one! Spend some time in a quiet environment to gather your thoughts and once relaxed fully write down exactly what it is that you want to achieve.

2. Ask for help!
Once you have decided on the role(s) you wish to pursue, the next step can be to seek assistance from others. It can often be overwhelming knowing where to start, but remember there are many sources of advice on hand, if we only use them. From a friend in the industry to advice centres or the vast array of information available on the internet, help is literally at your fingertips.

You are not expected to know everything and it can often be invaluable to speak to others in your search for helpful tips on how to best pursue your desired role. Time spent on researching and pro-actively speaking to people in the know, can pay off and reduce any time wasted or unnecessary stress later in this process. You might, for example, want to have a look at some of the advice and information available in the HireScores.com knowledge centre.

3. Make time for friends and family
Remember a job, though important, is not the be all and end all. Family and friends can provide vital support and encouragement and neglecting them can also lead to feelings of anxiety causing further stress. Set aside some quality time for those important in your life, and if busy plan ahead so that you do not miss out!

4. Eat a healthy balanced diet
It may be stating the obvious, but the 6 latte’s and chocolate or sugary snacks many people consume when stressed or busy, will not serve you any justice when you need to perform at your peak. Instead, after the very short lived ‘high’ or ‘boost’ you may feel, you are more likely to feel tired, irritable, overwhelmed and possibly ill as a result. Hardly the best foundation to sell yourself and find your dream job! Skipping meals only serves to confuse your body so three healthy balanced meals daily are a good start. (http://www.eatwell.gov.uk offers some useful advice!)

5. Do things you enjoy
Life is short - too short at times. It is very easy to put things on the long finger but you will not want to look back with regret at not having taken up that hobby, or seen more movies or shared dinners with loved ones. We often spend so much time pleasing others, it is easy to forget what makes US happy! Take time out to remember all the things that make you happy and set aside some time each week to enjoy these.

6. Get enough sleep
When under stress, many people suffer from insomnia or are unable to sleep as well as they usually would. As the body repairs itself during sleep, in order to function properly the body needs proper rest. If this is an issue, do not ignore it and instead look at different ways of addressing it. From reduction of stimulants, to creating the right environment there are many solutions which are easy to implement.
(http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sleep/HQ01387 offers some tips!)

7. Exercise
Exercise is vital to help remove toxins built up in the body daily. In the past, it was the exercise following the fight or flight response that enabled the body to get rid of the toxins released into the body during the stress response. Today however, we are not fleeing or fighting and this lack of physical exercise means these toxins remain and build up in our bodies leading to imbalance and often resulting in fatigue and illness. Regular exercise is vital to not only remove these toxins, but to stimulate our bodies systems, improve mental as well as physical wellbeing and can even make us feel happier thanks to the endorphins released in the process! Start today!

8. Set Boundaries – learn to say ‘No’
Whether at work or with friends and family, taking on more than you can handle will almost certainly result in exhaustion or ‘burn out’. Many people are unable, or afraid to say ‘no’, for fear of being seen as selfish or dismissed as being unable to cope in a work situation. It is important to remember that we are only human and as a result, there is a limit to how much we can take on without it having negative consequences on our mental and physical health. Hence, learning to be more assertive and knowing your boundaries are great ways of avoiding taking on further stress.

9. Breathe ….
It may sound obvious, but few of us breathe correctly! Many of us are so busy juggling everything else that we don’t even notice the shallow and often frantic breathing pattern we have adopted over time. During times of stress or anxiety, we may even forget to breathe at all and hold our breath, inevitably putting the body under further stress.

As part of the stress response causes the muscles to tense up and breathing to become shallow, a very simple way to counteract this is to focus on your breathing when you become stressed. Gently and slowly breathe into the abdomen, exhaling a little longer each time. After a few minutes things should seem a lot more manageable.

10. Stay positive !
Most importantly, stay positive!! It is easy to fall into a downward spiral and allow a negative thought pattern to take over. Focussing on all the things that makes us unhappy in life does little to improve our mood and motivation. Instead, focus on the positive and put plans in place to change those things that you are unhappy with. Remember, energy follows thought, so make your thoughts positive and who knows what good will come your way!

Stress - Facts & Figures

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) claims that over 13 million days are lost each year due to work-related stress - and this costs UK businesses about £3.7 billion

Almost 80% of illnesses are caused by stress

Each year over 2 million people suffer from ill health which they think is work-related

Around half a million people in Britain report work-related stress at a level they believe is making them ill

Each case of stress related ill health leads to an average of 30 days off work

A total of 10.5 million working days were lost in Britain in 2004/5 to work related stress

Finding a Job - Managing Stress