Stress Awareness Month 2023 – Creating a Stress Reducing Workplace

Apr 12, 2023

It’s normal for many of us to experience stress throughout our personal and professional lives. 

In fact, 1 in 14 adults report feeling stressed every single day.

Especially now, when people in the UK are experiencing the financial challenges of the cost-of-living-crisis, as well as the mental health repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. These key figures show us just how impactful stress has become on us:

  • 13.7 million working days are lost each year in the UK because of work-related stress, anxiety and depression, costing £28.3 billion yearly (NICE)
  • 60% of 18-24 year olds and 41% of 25-34 year olds feel pressured to succeed, versus just 17% of 45-54 year olds and 6% of over 55s (Mental Health Foundation and YouGov)
  • 23% of adults say that work causes them stress (CIPHR)

Whilst most of us are quite adept at hiding our stress, if it’s not managed properly, it can become overwhelming. This ultimately affects not just your performance, but also your health, with stress related illnesses in the UK costing £8.13 billion in healthcare expenditure. 

April 2023 is Stress Awareness Month. In this article, we explore the importance of remaining cognizant of our mental health, and what can be done to reduce stress in the workplace. 

What is Stress Awareness Month? 

The first Stress Awareness Month took place in 1992 and has taken place in April every year since. Levels of stress have been growing since then, and the most common cause is work-related stress. An alarming 79% of respondents said they frequently felt it. The aim of Stress Awareness Month is to highlight ongoing mental health challenges and to open a dialogue about the causes and possible cures. 

Why is Stress Awareness Month important? 

Stress Awareness Month allows us to reflect on what causes us stress. It’s an opportunity to speak to those around us, identifying what can be done to reduce stress, ultimately helping those who are overwhelmed to cope. 

Without these vital conversations, many of those struggling with stress would fail to recognise their own mental health issues and would continue to suffer in silence, leading to potentially significant ramifications to their health. 

While every month is a good month to manage our stress levels, April every year is a time to consider what’s worked over the last twelve months, and what still needs to improve. 

To find out more about Stress Awareness Month 2023, visit the Stress Management Society website.

4 changes you can make to your workplace to help manage stress levels

Did you know that 76% of employees report moderate to high levels of stress? 

We can all agree that this is an unacceptably high percentage, but there are changes you can make in your workplace to address this. Some changes are subtle, some are substantial, but all of them can actively alleviate stress and help your people cope with day-to-day pressure.

From boosting natural light levels to getting a helping hand from the local flora, here are 5 changes you can make to your workplace to help mitigate stress:

Make space to talk

Physical exercise and conversation/socialising are proven to be effective ways of helping us cope with stress.  And the workplace is sometimes a good environment to discuss an issue with someone who is sympathetic and impartial.  Think about creating relaxation rooms which offer privacy but with more comfortable furniture.  And is there a way of making the kitchen and break-out space more appealing?

These are low impact, low cost measures but can yield a positive benefit for members of your team.

Bring nature inside

When it comes to reducing stress levels, nature is always there to provide a helping hand.

By introducing planting and greenery into your office, not only will you breathe life into the space (literally increasing oxygen levels), but it can also boost employee wellbeing, as studies have found that being immersed in nature significantly reduces cortisol levels, the stress hormone. 

Less cortisol = less stress. Thanks, plants!

Boost natural light levels

In the same vein, the use of natural light in comparison to artificial light can have a positive effect on the way our brains work, increasing levels of serotonin, the happiness chemical! 

Often our workplaces get blocked up with partitions and other barriers, significantly reducing the reach of any natural light.  Try to alter the layout of your office in a way that optimises daylight. This has the added bonus of reducing your electricity usage, something we’re all keen on doing.

Reconsider your colour palette

While you want your office space to appear professional and on brand for clients, there are colours you can incorporate that can help you to achieve this while having a positive mental impact on your employees.

Greens and blues for example are excellent options, as they are known to calm the mind and aid with concentration. 

On the other hand, reds and oranges can have the opposite effect, so striking a balance is essential.

Improve office layout

While it may seem inconsequential, the layout of your office has a big part to play in the wellbeing of your employees. 

For example, if your workspace is no longer fit for purpose, with overcrowded desk placement that’s difficult to navigate around, or isolated, closed-off workspaces, then it will have an impact on the state of mind of your team. 

That’s why even the slightest changes can make a huge difference. Consider: 

  • Open-plan collaborative spaces that are dedicated to allowing your employees to come together and work efficiently as a team. 
  • Relaxation areas so employees can get away from their desks during their break times and truly unwind.
  • Concentration areas that allow employees to get away from their desks (and the rest of the team!) when they want to crack on and focus on something.

Reimagine your workspace with Rhino Interiors

If this year’s Stress Awareness Month has prompted you to reconsider your office design for the well-being and productivity of your employees, why not contact the team at Rhino? 

We draw on decades of experience creating, adjusting and optimising workspaces for businesses across the UK, helping implement stress-reducing features into the core of your design.

When you’re ready to talk, our expert design consultants are here to help you optimise your workspace with the mental health of your employees in mind. 

To find out how Rhino can support you in building a stress-free work environment get in touch with a member of the team today

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