Week 1: Movember – health at work
Our working environments have a significant impact on the mental health of employees, positively or negatively. During the month of November, we’re taking the time to focus on men’s health. This week’s discussion focuses on the connection between the working environment, depression, anxiety, and stress.
It is important to recognise that depression and anxiety are clinical conditions, while stress is not. Stress is a product of both our environment, and our reactions to the surrounding circumstances. Prolonged or chronic job-related stress is a risk factor for mental health problems, and accounts for 13% of depression in working men (Beyond Blue, 2018). According to Beyond Blue, an organization that provides online resources to support those going through mental health issues, factors that contribute to job stress include (but not limited to):
- High demands
- Low job control
- Work overload or high pressure
- Lack of control and participation in decision making
- Unclear work role
- Job insecurity
- Long working hours
- Poor communication
- Inadequate resources
What is work-related stress?
The World Health Organization classifies work place stress as the response people may have when presented at work with demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge which challenge their ability to cope. We will all come across stress and experience stressful events in our lives; in small doses, stress has many advantages. Stress can help you to overcome daily challenges and meet your goals. However, too much stress, whether it’s emotional or physical, can be detrimental to our health. Prolonged stress weakens the immune system, cause high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and may even be harmful for your heart (ULifeLine, 2018).
Signs of too much stress include:
- Inability to concentrate or complete tasks
- Get sick frequently with colds
- Body aches
- Trouble falling asleep or staying awake
- Changes in appetite
- More anxious than usual
- Mood swings
Employees are less likely to experience stress at work when the demands of work pressure match their skills and capabilities; when control can be exercised over their work and which the way they do it; when support is received from supervisors and colleagues; and when participation in decisions that concern their job is provided (WHO, 2018).
Beyond Blue has foraged partnerships with companies and other organizations which foster healthy workplace environments. They have developed a range of online resources and programs to assist both employers and employees to be mentally healthy. These resources can be found HERE.
Stress-reducing tips for men
Being able to manage stress effectively keeps an even keel, allows you to think more clearly, and makes you a more effective problem solver. Here are some practical stress-management tips:
- Slow down and step back: Stress can make even the smallest of incidences feel more daunting at the time. Give yourself some time to gather your thoughts and critically reflect over the situation; consider the bigger picture by asking yourself “how important is this” and “will it actually matter in the long run?”.
- Walk away: If you feel like you are getting too angry in a stressful situation, take some space, and don’t resume the interaction until you’re calm.
- Talk it out: Effective communication goes a long way; express the way you feel without demanding to have things your way.
- Burn off excess energy: Physical activity can be a great way to relieve stress. Go for a run, to the gym, or get involved in sport.
Want to read more on decreasing your stress levels? We talk about nutrition for stress here, and mindfulness for men including a great exercise to bring you back to appreciating the present moment here.