Stress, something we encounter on a daily basis as human beings. However, while stress can be normal, immoderate levels of stress can harm your health. Excessive stress in the work place in particular, is something that should not be dismissed lightly. Pressure can be motivating but if it is uncontrolled it quickly develops into stress and this can lead to various different illnesses.
The Healthy and Safety Executive (HSE) describe stress as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or demands place on them.’
Even though work-related stress itself is not deemed to be an illness it has been linked to many serious illnesses such as anxiety, depression and heart disease. It was reported, in 2011 that approximately 400000 people were suffering from work-related stress illnesses.
Work-related stress can be provoked by numerous influences. These include and range from: bad communication amongst employees, poor management, a negative working environment, insufficient job design, over-worked, lack of control, a mismatch between a specific role and the individual’s abilities, bullying, victimization, change, personal issues and financial trouble. Stress related to work grows when an individual is incapable of dealing with the demands and requirements they are expected to meet. Stress can strike anyone, at any time, at any position, level or role in a business.
In a time of an uncertain economic climate, stress in the work place has increased and the nation’s mental welfare is suffering as a result. The economic situation has led to high levels of staff turnovers, pressure of deadlines, jobs under threat, cut offs and lay offs, frozen salaries, increase in workloads and extreme budgeting. This has meant that stress in the work place has become wide spread and has led to the ill health of many employees. In fact recent research shows that stress has become the root cause of absence and non attendance in the work place across the UK.
It is important to recognise symptoms. These can include: pounding heart or palpitations, dry mouth, headaches, panic attacks, odd aches and pains, loss of appetite, loss of interest in work, fatigue, trouble concentrating, social withdrawal, problems sleeping, mood swings, chest pains. It can also encourage unhealthy behaviour: such as smoking and drinking.
So how can we reduce stress in the work place? Support is a vital necessity in any working environment and is the main solution for anyone suffering or witnessing the symptoms of stress at work. People need to be made aware that many organisations and businesses have support systems in place. There are also many other steps one can take or advise others to do. These include:
- Taking responsibility for your own emotional well-being, sleeping well, eating healthily, taking regular exercise (yoga has become a popular choice for de-stressing) can significantly help you to take control.
- Upping the levels of communication: talk, discuss don’t be afraid to say you are finding it hard to cope. Early intervention and awareness can stop stress from developing further.
- Providing good management and introducing appropriate training, so people are aware of the effects stress can have. This can help staff to spot, recognise and respond to indications of stress either within themselves or their colleagues.
- Learn to say no! You always have the power to do so. If it concerns overtime or tackling something which you know will lead to stress do not be afraid to say no. It’s about learning to be realistic, prioritising and organising before you get snowed under.
- Visit your GP. There are therapies and medicines that are available.
- Separate your work and social life. Find time to relax and switch off. Flip any negative thinking.
To de-stress remember these three S’s: self-awareness, self-management and social awareness.
Work for you don’t work for stress!