Managing Workplace Stress

Resources

The Mental Health Foundation is calling for 2019 to be the year that workplace stress is taken seriously. Results of a survey they carried out show that high workloads, poor work/life balance and stressful work are the top three causes of poor mental health at work. 

Mental Health Foundation chief Executive Shaun Robinson says “How we feel at work impacts not just our ability to work well, but our relationships with our colleagues, whānau, friends and communities. When our mental health is impacted by stress at work, the effects ripple out into our home and whānau lives and prevent us from flourishing.”

They have developed a free resource Minimising and managing work place stress which is designed to help workplaces tackle stress head-on and forms part of their Working Well resources. It is designed to support understanding around workplace stress, including how work impacts stress, how stress impacts individuals and what works to minimise and manage stress.

Good mental health leads to better engagement, reduced absenteeism and higher productivity, while also improving wellbeing, morale and job satisfaction. 

The resources are all available for free from the Mental Health Foundation here. 

How’s your mate? Be aware of mental health this Men’s Health Month

June is Men’s Health Month. If there’s ever a time as a male to think about your personal health, now is the time to do it. This month we have been discussing men’s health issues and what you can do to improve.

So far we’ve covered three topics for Men’s Health Month:

For our final Men’s Health Month post, we want to talk about Mental Health.

Read more →

Pink Shirt Day 2018: How you can help someone being bullied.

Today is Pink Shirt Day, a day when people around the world wear a pink shirt to symbolise a stand against bullying, so this week we’re publishing a series of blog posts on workplace bullying. In our last two posts we talked about what bullying is, and what you can do if you’re being bullied. Today we’re going to talk about how you can help someone who is being bullied.

Standing with a friend or colleague who is being bullied doesn’t mean you have to take a punch for them.

There are many ways you can be supportive and keep yourself safe.

Many people are worried that if they stand up for someone, they will just become the bully’s next target. While this does sometimes happen, in many cases, instigators of bullying respond to strength – such as a stronger or bigger group of people defending someone else – by backing away. That is, after all, why Pink Shirt Day was created in the first place!

If someone tells you they are being bullied, don’t see them as a “victim”. Try to use the word “target” – it is more empowering for people, and less likely to make them feel helpless.

Some things you could do include:

  • Just listen – sometimes, all you need is someone to listen to you, without judgement, and acknowledge that what you are going through is hard and painful.
  • Make a plan with your friend about what to do if they get bullied again, eg, “If it happens again, we need to talk to a manager”.
  • Stopping rumours in their tracks – if people are telling lies about your friend or other colleagues, speak up, and tell people that it isn’t true or that talking about people like that is unacceptable.
  • Go with your friend when they tell a manager or HR Representative. Asking for help can be scary, and your support might be the difference between them telling, and keep it to themselves. If they’re not yet ready to reach out, you could suggest they write a letter.
  • Ask a manager for help or report the bullying to HR – especially when bullying is physically or emotionally abusive, it’s important to keep everyone safe, without putting yourself at risk. It’s not “telling” if you are keeping your friend safe.

If you see cyber bullying

  • Try to help the target; perhaps by offering them support. Having support will mean that the person may feel less alone.
  • Help them report the bullying, this could also include taking screenshots and printing before the post or exchange is removed.
  • Report the bullying anonymously if that feels safer to the website where it is happening.
  • Offer to go with your friend if they need to report the cyber bullying to police.

Many people who are being bullied feel isolated and completely alone. They often don’t speak up because they feel powerless to do so. Supporting someone who is being bullied can go a long way towards ending what can be a very difficult and painful situation.

Just listening to someone when they need to talk can empower them to take action. Standing up for those who are being bullied is what Pink Shirt Day is all about.

One of the components in our Psychological First Aid course discusses the topic of bullying. To learn more about Psychological First Aid, click here.

Pink Shirt Day 2018: What to do when you’re being bullied

This Friday is Pink Shirt Day, a day when people around the world wear a pink shirt to symbolise a stand against bullying, so this week we’re publishing a series of blog posts on workplace bullying. In our last post we talked about what bullying is. Today we’re going to talk about what you can do if you’re being bullied.

Being bullied can make you feel very alone. Sometimes it can feel like it will never stop, that no one can help you, or even that you deserve to be treated this way.

No one deserves to be bullied

All of us need a little extra help sometimes. Reaching out is a brave thing to do. Connecting with others can help you feel less alone, and empower you to start creating change.

It’s normal to feel frightened or even ashamed when you tell someone you’re being bullied. Don’t let this stop you from asking for help!

Find someone to talk to

Be mindful when choosing who to talk to. Figure out the best person in your community for you to approach. This might be your superiors, colleagues, a friend or someone you look up to. The important thing is that you trust this person.

If the person that you talked to doesn’t help you, don’t give up, find someone else. We know that some people often report bullying as being more severe than others perceive it. This sometimes makes it hard to connect with those that you reach out to, but don’t give up. Silence doesn’t change anything. If you’ve experienced bullying, a good thing to do is write down the where, who and when of the occurrence. This can make it easier to talk to someone about what has happened.

You can also call a helpline. Helplines are staffed by trained volunteers who are there to listen to what’s going on in your life, and help you to find solutions to what’s bothering you.

More tips

  • Find safety in numbers
  • Stand up for yourself – this can be really hard, but sometimes showing your strength and telling people their behaviour is unacceptable can be very powerful.
  • Walk away – often bullies thrive on attention. Starving them of attention by ignoring them and removing yourself from the situation is a powerful thing to do.
  • Write down what happened to you, as many details as you can remember.
  • Don’t attack others – you’ll just become a part of the problem.

Responding to Workplace bullying

It’s important to gather as much information as possible when you’re experiencing Workplace bullying in the event there might be an investigation.
For each incident keep records of:

  • the date, time and where it occurred
  • what happened (who was present, what was said, who said what)
  • if there were any witnesses
  • how you felt.

There are a number of actions you can take next, from an informal complaint to the bully in question, all the way to submitting a formal complaint to your manager, which could trigger a formal investigation depending on your employers company policies. You can learn more about these different options on WorkSafe NZ’s website here.

How to protect yourself from cyber bullying

  • Share only what you would be happy to have shared (keeping in mind that other people may share your information, too).
  • Have strong passwords and keep them to yourself.
  • Do not answer any emails/texts that you feel uncomfortable with.
  • Do not answer emails/texts/friend requests from people you don’t know.
  • Be careful what you write – do not respond to others if you are angry or frustrated.

What can I do if I am being cyber bullied?

  • Do not react – it gives the bully power. Don’t reply to text or online messages (we know this can be hard).
  • Print out or screenshot examples of cyber bullying and show them to someone else.
  • Report cyber bullying to social media sites, phone companies or internet companies.
  • Block the phone number/profile you are receiving the messages from.
  • Save what has happened to show a friend or police.
  • Use assertive responses only if you need something to happen, eg, “Remove this post immediately”.
  • Ask for help.

In our next post, we’ll talk about what you can do to help someone who’s being bullied.

One of the components in our Psychological First Aid course discusses the topic of bullying. To learn more about Psychological First Aid, click here.

Pink Shirt Day 2018: What is Bullying?

This Friday is Pink Shirt Day, a day when people around the world wear a pink shirt to symbolise a stand against bullying, so this week we’ll be publishing a series of blog posts on workplace bullying. Specifically we’ll be talking about what bullying is, what to do when you’re being bullied, and how you can help someone who is being bullied.

Bullying is when someone keeps doing or saying things to have power over another person.

We all think we know bullying when we see it, but bullying can also be something we don’t see. Often, people who experience it feel invisible.

Calling someone names, saying or writing nasty things about them, leaving them out of activities, not talking to them, threatening them, making them feel uncomfortable or scared, taking or damaging their things, hitting or kicking them or making them do things they don’t want to do are all forms of bullying.

Generally bullying has the following features:

  • It is repeated – this may be single acts with different targets or many acts with the same target.
  • It involves a power imbalance – this means that there is an unequal relationship between the target and the bully, this could be because of physical size, age, gender or social status. By not stopping bullying we increase this power imbalance.
  • It is harmful.

Generally, we think that bullying is deliberate. It is difficult for those being bullied (targets) to defend themselves and it can often be difficult for those doing the bullying (initiators) to learn new social behaviours.

No matter what the reason is, nobody deserves to be bullied.

Bullying in the workplace.

Workplace bullying is repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that can lead to physical or psychological harm.

Repeated behaviour is persistent (occurs more than once) and can involve a range of actions over time. Unreasonable behaviour means actions that a reasonable person in the same circumstances would see as unreasonable. It includes victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening a person. Bullying may also include harassment, discrimination or violence.

According to The Citizens Advice Bureau bullies are often insecure people with low self-esteem, which they can hide well, and their targets are usually competent, honest and independent individuals who get along with colleagues.

According to Citizens Advice Bureau, bullying behaviours can include:

  • Constant put-downs, especially when it’s done in public
  • Frequent nit-picking and fault-finding, always discounting what the other person says
  • Using threatening language
  • Refusal to acknowledge the target’s contributions and achievements
  • Refusing to allow an employee to take breaks they are entitled to
  • Frequent embarrassing comments about an individual’s appearance
  • Being singled out and treated differently (worse) from other colleagues
  • Being overloaded with work, or having most of it taken away
  • Making threats about job security

Bullying in the workplace can negatively impact the entire workforce and result in:

  • Decreased worker health and wellbeing
  • Decreased worker motivation
  • Decreased worker performance
  • Decreased worker commitment
  • Increased sick leave
  • Increased worker turnover

In our next post, we’ll talk about what you can do if you’re being bullied.

One of the components in our Psychological First Aid course discusses the topic of bullying. To learn more about Psychological First Aid, click here.

Stress is contagious

Stress is contagious

According to a recent study conducted by psychologists at Saint Louis University, stress is just as easy to catch as a cold or the flu. Researchers asked study participants to perform a stress-inducing activity, such as solving a complex math problem or speaking in front of an audience. A second group of participants looked on while the task was being completed.

The researchers found the observing participants showed elevated levels of stress after watching a fellow human complete the anxiety-inducing activity. Participants’ stress levels were determined based on their cortisol (often referred to as the ‘stress hormone’) levels and heart rates.

“To find that in some people, some of the time, you can elicit these responses just by sitting and watching someone else under stress was somewhat surprising to us,” Tony Buchanan, associate professor at Saint Louis University’s Department of Psychology, told ABC News.

Of course, this topic has been studied before. A study conducted by the University of California found mothers who were separated from their babies and then asked to participate in a stress-inducing activity were likely to transmit their anxiety levels to their children. When reunited with their stressed mothers, the babies were likely to mirror the parents’ elevated heart rates.

What does this tell us about stress and the human body?

Stress isn’t just an emotional state, it’s a physical one as well. When we are stressed, our bodies secrete cortisol as part of a fight-or-flight cocktail that diminishes our inhibitions and encourages us to take risks – great for helping our paleolithic ancestors manoeuvre their way out of dangerous situations, but not so great for those of us trying to adhere to a healthy diet. If we are stressed and our cortisol levels elevated, we are likely to make impulsive decisions about our health.

Consistently elevated stress levels are also known to weaken the immune system. Anxiety and stress can lead to sleep deprivation, emotional eating (which can interfere with our attempts at eating a balanced, healthful diet), and negative interactions in our personal relationships.

How can we minimise the spread of stress?

Now that we know it’s possible to spread stress to others, we must take responsibility for our own stress levels. By doing so, we’ll avoid transmitting stress to our co-workers, partners, friends and family members.

Meditation and deep breathing are great stress combatants. As trite as it may sound, taking a few moments to close your eyes and count to 10 when you feel stress coming on can help slow your heart rate and stabilise the secretion of cortisol. You may also want to incorporate a holistic relaxing activity, such as yoga or massage, into your weekly routine.

You can also help maintain balance within your body by doing what you can to keep your blood pressure levels in check. Regular exercise and a diet containing moderate levels of cholesterol will go a long way toward helping you stay calm.

Finally, do your best to get an adequate amount of sleep each night. A well-rested person is more likely to meet stressful situations with calm and rational behaviour. If you suffer from insomnia, night terrors or other sleep disorders, consider herbal supplements that will support restful sleep. Getting into a nightly routine (ideally devoid of computer or TV stimulation) will also help calm your body and mind before bed.

(Article sourced from HealthPost.co.nz. See full link here)

Is stress an issue in your workplace? Contact Fleur on (03) 341 4087 or fleur.truscott@triex.co.nz to have a chat about how TriEx can help.