In a highly competitive industry like racing, some pressure is natural - and even exciting. Sometimes the pressure is concentrated on a ‘make or break’ moment, or a longer period such as the breeding season, or a racing stable that trains races throughout the year with staffing constraints. Sustained stress, fatigue and pressure in your working life can not only affect your productivity but risk the physical and emotional health of workers in racing - at all levels.
And the impact can be serious - from higher risk of mental health problems such as depression or anxiety, or physical issues such as chronic headaches or heart disease - related to physical changes or associated lifestyle ‘coping’ habits like poor eating, alcohol consumption or drug use.
Plus, stressed workers make for poor outcomes - such as lower morale, less engagement, lower productivity and more likelihood of antisocial workplace behaviours. More seriously, cutting corners in vital areas like health and safety can create significant personal and legal risks - both for individuals and their businesses or employers.
We can’t always eliminate pressure - but we can manage it smarter.
For individuals this can mean:
- Making sure you take scheduled breaks
- Plan ahead with your employer to use your annual leave - taking time to get away from work and put things in perspective.
- Working out the right balance for you between work, and life - don’t try to continually juggle both.
- Trying to avoid compensating with poor diet or substances - because overall, they make your focus and state of mind worse.
- Talk about pressures with the people around you - at work, or at home. Having good relationships, and feeling their support, makes a big difference.
- There’s always the next race, or the next opportunity - so don’t let set-backs overwhelm you, or become bigger than they need to be.
- If you don’t think you are coping - get help. Talk to your doctor and manager about what options for support you might need.
For employers and managers:
- Sense check the demands being placed on your team. Are they achievable - and matched to a worker's skills and abilities?
- Look for ways to give your workers a level of input and control over their pace of work.
- Give them chances to raise concerns, or make suggestions.
- Support a culture where asking for help is acceptable, and encouraged.
Remember yourself and those close to you, make plans for your own short or longer breaks from work.
Stress in the workplace - WorkSafe New Zealand
Promoting mental wellbeing at work: