Work and Wellbeing · 1 January 2020

5 ways to stop stress eating in the office


Occasionally stress can be surprisingly beneficial for us. Stimulating our fight or flight? response, the released epinephrine hormone can help us work more efficiently.

However, it’s no secret that too much stress is bad for us. According to a?YouGovpoll, three-quarters of people have been overwhelmed and unable to cope? as a result of stress. And it’s taking its toll on the UK workforce, which loses?15.4 million working daysa year due to this issue.

As many are aware, stress can also lead to over-eating. The primary stress hormone, Cortisol, is linked to?increased hunger. In the run-up to?National Stress Awareness Day, what can employers do to reduce stress-eating?

1. Talk it out

Stop stress eating
Extra weight: Are your employees using food as a coping mechanism for workplace stress?
Studies show those who feel isolated?are more vulnerable to stress. Feelings of loneliness and believing you have no one to talk to can lead to employees becoming overwhelmed.

Managers should make sure communication is always open for example, by offering weekly drop-in sessions or using an informal instant messaging platform to help alleviate these potential?employee stressors.

Look for signs of struggle in employees, for example, negative mood changesor not being as talkative as they usually are, as these may be a sign of an underlying problem.

Approach the situation with care but do check in with them. Noticing these changes and taking the employee aside for an informal chat may help them start to deal with the problem. When chatting to them, make sure you genuinely listen to what they’re saying and try to provide helpful solutions.

2. Change your/their diet

Stop stress eating
Five a day: Encourage your employees to avoid reaching for an unhealthy snack.
There’s a reason stressed employees gravitate towards sugary treats and fatty foods. Sugar stimulates?opiate receptorsand triggers the brain’s reward centre. This is why you get more satisfaction from grabbing chocolate over a banana when stressed.

This doesnt mean you should stop snacking altogether when feeling stressed. Simply make sure you’re making healthier choices. Swap out fatty snacks for nutrient-rich foods like fruit or oats. This way, youll be satisfying your craving while looking after your body with valuable nutrients

Most of the time, the?physical actof reaching for food becomes more of a habit than the actual need for food. Teaching employees about healthy eating habits can help curb these habits.

Employers can use the?NHS Eatwell guidelinesas a reference, to show employees how to balance their diets and make healthier choices.

3. Get them moving

Three colleagues walking in the park
Shake it off: Employees should be encouraged to move more both in and out of the office.
Employers should aim to promote healthy lifestyles as well as offering emotional support. This can be done by either promoting, or investing in, health and wellness programs.

Even pushing your team towards light exercise can get endorphins pumping, producing a natural high? that alleviates tension. Even going for a 20-minute walk a day can?reduce the risk of heart diseaseby 30 percent.

Having an active and healthier workforcebrings workplace?benefitstoo. Healthier individuals have improved workplace morale, improved employee engagement reduced absenteeism from illness.

Consider inviting an exercise specialist into the office to run seminars on easy ways to get active and to chat to employees about simple changes they can make to get their steps up each day. It could be as simple as using the stairs instead of lifts or getting off the tube a stop early and walking the rest of the way to work.

4. Show them you care

A slice of gratitude: Take the time to talk to your employees.

 
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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Rachel is an Area Manager in the Retail Department at Express Vending. She leads a team of Retail Merchandisers covering the West London area. Her expertise are in delivering world-class customer service and EVL refreshment solutions to businesses across the London area.

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