Stress Awareness: A guide to recognising and reducing stress.

Do you often hear your colleagues and friends saying “My job is so stressful”? Do you genuinely believe they are stressed or do you think they have just had a difficult day at work?

April is Stress Awareness Month, during this time health professionals, charities and businesses come together to raise awareness of the triggers that cause stress and what measures can be taken to reduce stress.

The main causes of stress are related to work and money worries. As a contractor or freelancer you will have periods of time where you may not be working, are looking for the next contact or at the opposite end of the spectrum have taken on numerous projects at once.

In this article we discuss how to recognise if you are suffering from stress and what you can do to reduce it?

5 signs of stress:

You wake up with a sense of dread
From the moment you wake up your mind immediately turns to work, the tasks you have to do or the people you have to work with. Instead of feeling energised and motivated you have an impending sense of doom and even feel scared.

You feel inadequate
You have years of experience and are extremely skilled but yet you feel nervous and inadequate compared to your colleagues. You may feel nervous to voice your opinions and ideas in the fear that others will ridicule you or think your ideas are silly.

You find it difficult to sleep
People who are stressed find it hard to sleep as they can’t’ switch off’ their thoughts. You might be able drop off to sleep but the quality of sleep you are getting is poor and you wake up in the morning feeling exhausted.

If you work for yourself this even more difficult as your workplace is often your home and creating a separation between the two can be tricky.

You don’t feel like your normal self
Stress affects the way we feel, you may find yourself becoming irritable, feeling sad and even angry. This will have an affect on your relationships, both with your colleagues and family and friends.

Little things that you once didn’t see as a problem you now view them with negativity and an obstacle in your way.

You have poor concentration
You find it hard to concentrate even on the simplest of tasks. For example: responding to an email should only take a few moments but you find it difficult to form the words to make a cohesive sentence.

5 ways to reduce stress: 

Break the bottle
Don’t bottle everything up inside, break the bottle and let out your worries, emotions and uncertainties. Talk to somebody who you trust and who is impartial to the situation. It may be that you are clouded by what ever is worrying you and that some advice from an outsider can give you some clarity.

Give yourself a high-five
Your hard work may not be recognised by others but it shouldn’t stop you from congratulating yourself. Even managing to tick two things off your to do list deserves a high-five. Always focus on the positives and banish the negatives to the bin!

Look out for yourself
Stress can have a major affect on your health, particularly your heart. Looking after yourself by doing some exercise, eating a balanced diet and cutting down on caffeine and alcohol will help reduce your stress levels, make you feel better and improve your productivity at work.

Colour your way to calm
Certain colours such as: green, blue, white and lights greys are considered to have a calming effect. If your workspace is drab and lacking serenity, add personal touches of colour to your desk through pictures or plants.

If you work from home create a separate work space. For example using a spare bedroom or separating off a corner of a room. Incorporate tranquil colours through pictures, furniture and even stationary.

Have order to your day
Create a work plan based on priorities and work through it the best you can. We are subconsciously drawn to things we enjoy or find easy and put off the more challenging tasks.

Our advice is to flip this the other way and complete a difficult task first. You will have a great sense of achievement that you have completed it and this will  spur you on to complete other challenging tasks.

If your finances are stressing you out or you are confused by taxes speak to the Cogent team on 0208 952 2234 who will talk you through the different options available to you as a Freelancer or Contractor.