Stress Managment

Stress can be defined as 'the adverse reaction to excessive pressure'. Pressure is often part and parcel of work and helps to keep people motivated. However too much pressure can lead to feelings of not coping and can lead to mental or physical illness. The following changes in behaviour may indicate stress:

  • Physical symptoms - tiredness; indigestion and nausea; headaches; aching muscles; or palpitations.
  • Mentally – more indecisive; finding it hard to concentrate; loss of memory; feelings of inadequacy; or low self-esteem.
  • Emotionally – getting irritable or angry; anxious; hypersensitive; or feeling drained and listless.
  • Behavioural – noticeable changes in performance; presenteeism; changes in patterns of attendance; recurrent short-term absences or long-term absence.

The university Safety Services has produced a stress prevention and management toolkit with information to assist managers and employees manage occupational stress. This includes a Stress Assessment Tool, and guidance for manager and individuals.

What should I do if I feel I am suffering from stress?

  • Support : support can be from just talking to a friend. Discussing your problems with someone else can help you get ideas about new ways of dealing with your problem or stress. Sharing your thoughts can also help you feel calmer and listened to.
  • Keep active: physical activity can help you feel calmer, stronger, and better able to deal with emotional stresses. Try something you enjoy such as walking the dog, dancing, playing a sport or gardening.
  • Speak to your manager who should help identify, discuss and manage your work stressors. Using the Stress Assessment Tool within stress prevention and management toolkit can help identify specific work stressors during this discussion with your manager.

If you don’t feel you can approach your manager, for example if it is your relationship with them which is causing you to feel stressed, you can contact HR or your trade union for guidance and support. You can also refer yourself in confidence to Occupational Health Service or to the Counselling Service, or your GP. Your GP can carry out an assessment and offer advice and any treatment that may be beneficial. The Counselling Service also runs a wide range of workshops to help you manage stress and improve your wellbeing

What to do if you are off sick due to stress

You must inform your manager at the earliest opportunity if you are off sick due to stress or a related condition. Your manager is required to discuss this with you in order to find out the causes of your stress. It is important to try and get to the heart of what’s causing you to feel stressed in order to identify what reasonable work related actions might be taken to reduce further stress. For example it may not be possible to alter the demands of the role, but sometimes minor adjustments can give you more of a sense of control over the way in which you work or the way in which you communicate can make a difference to your working relationships. After discussion your manager may refer you to the Occupational Health Services.

There is a host of helpful information to help to identify and deal with stress: