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How contractors can manage stress

How contractors can manage stress

According to a recent study conducted by the Mental Health Foundation, three in four Britons have been so stressed over the last year that they’ve felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. Never before have we been expected to fulfil so many personal and professional roles, with many people struggling to stay ahead of complex daily schedules. This can be particularly true for contractors, who must often juggle project work with paperwork and job-hunting. This year has been a tough one for contractors, with the effects of the new off-payroll rules hitting home in the public sector, and further changes ahead. To mark National Stress Awareness Week, Contracting Scout takes a look at some top tips for beating stress.

  1. Organise and prioritise

Feeling stressed is also a feeling of not being in control of the many tasks and responsibilities we’re asked to take on, so be realistic about what you can achieve. This means letting go of perfectionism and focusing on achieving goals. Instead of attempting to multitask, prioritise tasks according to their order of importance and concentrate on achieving one task at a time. Implementing a daily schedule that helps to manage your time is crucial to staying organised. Whenever possible, try to create a ‘safety buffer’ by building extra time into your deadlines so that you’re always working ahead. This will come in useful for unforeseen developments or holdups.

  1. Exercise Nutrition and sleep

Exercise, nutrition and sleep are can have a huge impact on your mental and physical wellbeing. It’s common for contractors to work long and erratic hours when on an assignment, but taking care of your self is crucial in combatting stress and maintaining a consistent standard of work. Research shows that getting sufficient sleep increases our resilience and mental agility, making it easier to cope when things don’t go to plan. Eating low GI (glycaemic index) foods and keeping yourself hydrated will help to maintain your energy levels throughout the day, while exercise releases ‘feel good’ endorphins that can help to eliminate stress.

  1. Practice being mindful

Mindfulness is the buzzword on everyone’s lips these days, but what does it actually mean for contractors who haven’t got time to sit around and contemplate the world? Put simply, being mindful means taking time out to gain perspective. How you achieve this is a personal choice, depending on what works for you. It might be taking a walk in the fresh air, listening to music or learning to incorporate relaxation exercises into your day. Most importantly, being mindful means learning to being fully present in your life outside work.

  1. Set boundaries

Even the best clients might push the limits of your contract, so be firm, especially when it comes to scope creep, and don’t be afraid of setting boundaries or asking for more time if tasks get added to the project. While you might want to impress the client and be flexible in accommodating their requests, contractors need to make sure they’re adequately compensated for the work they do and for the time they put in.

  1. Positive communication

As stressed out or overwhelmed as you may feel, trying to maintain a positive outlook will help. Although it’s often difficult to keep things in perspective when you feel overloaded, reminding yourself that, in the wider scheme of things, meetings, reports and deadlines are significantly less important than your health and your family. Maintaining positive communication can help avoid potential confusion, mix-ups and unnecessary delays, all of which contribute to stress. It can also help to talk to your family, friends or a health professional to stop feelings of stress leading to isolation and depression

  1. Keep informed

Being aware of what’s happening in your professional sector can help you to anticipate situations that could create problems and avoid unnecessary stress. Keeping yourself informed about general politics and changes in legislation that can affect contractors can help to give you peace of mind by helping you to feel prepared. Similarly, if you’re struggling under a mountain of paperwork or losing sleep over your accounts, then taking advantage of professional services to support contractors can help to alleviate some of the pressure.

If you’d like to talk to one of our team about services that could help with some of your contracting needs, you can call us on: 0203 6031878

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