Talking to Coworkers about Stress

by Maggie Reimer
April 13, 2020
Talking to Coworkers about Stress

April is Stress Awareness Month and there’s a lot going on that we can justifiably stress about. We’ve talked about working from home, and we’ve talked about team morale, but how do you talk with your coworkers about managing the stress you’re all feeling? It’s not easy.

Now, remember that our stress response is a survival mechanism that goes back to our fight or flight responses. Although this response is vital for our survival, feeling chronically stressed can leave us more vulnerable to illness. Which is not good, but you know that. Sometimes we need to combat our stress and our stressors, take control where we can, relax and recharge. It’s easier said than done, but it is not impossible or hopeless.

So how do we know someone is experiencing stress when we’re no longer around them? How should we approach them, if we should at all? The Kinetix Blog has featured O.A.R.S. in the past, and we’ll review it again, right now:

The Signs the Stress is Taking Over:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased productivity
  • Morale problems
  • Absenteeism

Here’s How to Follow O.A.R.S:

  • Observe – notice changes in behavior
  • Ask and Actively Listen – ask open-ended questions, be patient, be curious, discuss the impact, and focus on collaborative problem-solving
  • Refer – suggest resources in the workplace or community to help (this is a GREAT time to educate yourself on employee assistance programs or support that your company offers/covers!)
  • Support – continue to communicate, encourage them, and set healthy objectives (but NEVER try to push a co-worker into the programs you just educated yourself about!)

It’s important for us to take care of ourselves, and respectfully care for our teammates and friends. You never want to overreach, but we’re allowed to be here for each other. As Stress Awareness Month continues, we hope you take time for yourself, check in on your team using O.A.R.S., and utilize the sources you have for a healthier you. You can visit the Federal Occupational Health website for more information on stress awareness.

Maggie Reimer

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