Beyond 9 to 5: Discovering UK’s After-Work Stress Remedies

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Photo Credits: Jeshoots.com via unsplash

Today marks the last day of Stress Awareness Month, which is celebrated every year in April. To offer some interesting post-work stress remedies, we hear from people in the UK workforce how they de-stress after a long, tiring day.

In today’s fast-paced work environment, the traditional 9 to 5 schedule often spills into after-work hours, leading to stress and imbalance. In the UK, this culture of overwork is prevalent, impacting personal well-being. Reports suggest that 14% of UK adults feel stressed because of work every single day.

However, people are also becoming more conscious about their stress levels and are taking active measures to create balance. While some take a more common approach for stress remedies such as exercising and meditating, some people have unique ways to de-stress.

But first, let’s dive into some basics surrounding workplace stress identification and how it impacts people.  

Stress Remedies in the UK Why is the UK Stressed?

Main Stress Triggers for the UK Workforce

Research indicates that money issues and a lack of sleep are what is stressing around 39% of UK adults in the UK. Clinical counsellor and director of Lotus Therapy, Niloufar Esmaeilpour, believes its tight deadlines and high job expectations tend to stress working adults. Moreover, not having the right support or control over work adds to that stress.

READ: Stress Awareness Month: Worker Compensation For Stress at Work Claims

Work-life balance has also been given a lot of importance as Ms Esmaeilpour tells us that not having a balanced lifestyle can add to the stress. She says, “[This is] especially for people who do not disconnect easily from their working duties even when the working hours are over. Hence, the phenomenon of burnout and dissatisfaction”.

Early Signs of Stress at Work

Ms Esmaeilpour says that changes in mood which include irritability, feeling overwhelmed or anxious are all some early signs. She also says that stress can show up as physical symptoms which include headaches, muscle tension, or disturbances in sleeping patterns.

Identifying common signs of work-related stress is imperative to make sure people don’t get burnt out. Some other common indicators often manifest through behavioural changes, such as increased reliance on substances like alcohol or tobacco, or withdrawal from social engagements, may also be observed.

READ: Managing Stress: How Employers Can Contribute to Lowering Workplace Stress

Prompt recognition of these signs enables both individuals and employers to take proactive measures to address and alleviate stressors. Ms Esmaeilpour says, “When your job performance deteriorates— you find it hard to concentrate, make more errors than usual, procrastinate, in other words—very often this situation indicates that you are starting to experience stress.”

She adds that recognising these signs and incorporating changes is imperative for not just general well-being but also to prevent further deterioration of stress.

Stress Remedies in Action: Real-Life Strategies for Managing Work Stress

Everyone deals with stress differently – be it exercising, cooking or even gaming. We hear from everyday people in the UK about their stress remedies.

From hot/cold therapy to sewing, each anecdote provides a glimpse into the resilience and resourcefulness exhibited by everyday professionals in their quest for well-being amidst the rigours of their careers.

1. Establishing Rituals to Turn Off “Work Mode”

Ms Esmaeilpour, who runs a therapy and counselling centre, emphasises the importance of mindfulness during the day. Practicing deep breathing or engaging in short meditation sessions through the day can reduce stress.

However, she emphasises establishing rituals that help you switch off from work. She says it can be as simple as tidying up the workspace and adds, “This helps create a mental separation between work and home life, which is essential for relaxation and personal well-being”.

2. Mobility Exercises During Work; Nature Walks After Work

Personal fitness coach, James Cunningham, says taking micro breaks and incorporating mobility exercises help him tremendously. He says, “Not only does this help me physically by keeping my body loose and preventing stiffness from sitting too long, but it also gives my mind a break and allows me to refocus before diving into the next task.”

After work, James takes time out to engage in any physical activity – even as simple as a leisure walk. “The fresh air and change of scenery are invigorating and help me return to work the next day feeling refreshed and rejuvenated”, he adds, as being in nature is therapeutic for him.

3. Indulging in Self Care

Prioritising self-care to prevent burnout and maintain productivity is not something that just James believes in. Angela Prentner-Smith, MD and founder of This is Milk, enjoys Pilates and going on walks as it helps her stay calm and focused. She also likes listening to audiobooks and playing on the app Covet.

READ: National Stress Awareness Day 2023: Five Ways to Prevent Employee Burnout

Angela’s company, This is Milk, is based in Scotland and has a global network of clients in different time zones. Her taking time out to wind down after a long day helps her function better as she says, “I am dyspraxic and my brain and body function better when I am calm and centred, which isn’t always the case when you’re an ambitious and a relatively young business in a sector which is constantly evolving.”

4. Engaging in Fun Activities/Hobbies

It’s always helpful to engage in hobbies and activities that do not tax you out mentally. Alex Moss, podcaster, and content creator at Darts Corner, resonates with this as one of his stress remedies is playing a game of darts to unwind from the day. He adds, “Getting into the ‘flow state,’ as it’s called, allows me to focus on the game – it lets me forget any worries or stress I’ve experienced that day and winds me down. I’ve found that taking this time helps me relax, and I feel much more productive the next day.”

Along similar lines, Una Doyle, a business coach and strategist for SMEs, takes time out to sew her own vintage clothes. What started in 2019 as a hobby, became something that keeps her calm and creative. For her, sewing is more than just stitching fabric together – it’s a blend of art and engineering that’s incredibly rewarding. She adds, “Whether I’m advising clients or threading a needle, it’s all about creating space to breathe, grow, and be authentically me.” Her other stress remedies include meditation, journaling, and practising Qi Gong.

5. Hot/Cold Therapy

Founder of a luxury British knitwear brand, Genevieve Sweeney, and her husband Ian, who also owns a metal fabrication company, swears by hot/cold therapy – so much so that she’s building a sauna and pool in her own garden.

After having started their businesses in 2015, they both would visit a spa for hot and cold therapy once a quarter. While these sessions allow her mind and body to de-stress, there is a lot more to it than just physical benefits. She says, “[for hot/cold therapy] you have to step out of the office, put hold your phone, really take time for yourself and also build resilience with cold therapy”.

However, having kids made it difficult to visit the nearest spa, which was 45 minutes away, so, she and her husband are now building their own from scratch. “No more lounging in front of the TV in the evenings but working on our wellness” Genevieve adds.

Stress Remedies in the UK: Concluding Thoughts

Through the personal narratives shared by individuals in the UK workforce, we’ve witnessed the diverse array of stress remedies in action – from mindfulness practices to hot/cold therapy, each reflecting the unique needs and preferences of individuals striving for balance in their professional and personal lives.

As we conclude this exploration of stress remedies, it’s clear that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Rather, it’s about recognizing the signs of stress, prioritizing self-care, and adopting strategies that resonate with individual needs and lifestyles. By doing so, we not only safeguard our well-being but also contribute to creating healthier and more sustainable work environments for ourselves and those around us.

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