Employers, employees both play a role in battle against stress

It’s a familiar scene for many workers: you’re sitting at your desk, your neck is tight, your stomach feels funny and you’re feeling the telltale signs of stress. How do you combat it?

The Canadian Mental Health Association has come up with some strategies through its workplace mental-health program, Not Myself Today.

Many of its suggestions are simple, momentary actions that employees can take to stop stress in its tracks, such as stepping away from their computer, going for a walk, stretching and taking deep breaths.

Read: How employees cope more impactful than the stress they’re under: report

Other tactics include getting a plant for the workplace to help purify the air and aid in relaxation, indulging in a healthy snack, listening to music, laughing and keeping to-do lists, which aids motivation. Cleaning up or reorganizing the workspace can also help in combatting stress.

As well, there are actions that employers can take to help mitigate the risks of stress within their organizations, says Jordan Friesen, national associate director of workplace mental health at the Canadian Mental Health Association.

“From an organizational perspective, it’s really about looking at some of the psychosocial risk factors identified in Canada’s national standard for psychological health and safety,” he says, noting that these factors tie to concepts around demand, control, effort and reward.

Read: 58% of Canadian workers are stressed on a daily basis: survey

“Taking a look at what you have in your workplace to support effective workload management, to reward employees appropriately for the work that they do, to enable employees to have control over how and when and where they do their work wherever possible — those are all really positive things from an organizational level that you can do to help mitigate the effect of the demands of our modern work environment,” says Friesen.

He notes that recent census data indicated that 47 per cent of Canadians cite work as the most stressful aspect of their life.

“It’s predominant. Think of all the other things that can go on in our lives, to say that work is the most stressful thing, I think, should raise a flag for Canadian employers,” he says.

Read: 25% of Canadian employees quit work due to stress: survey