In this edition of FIND YOUR VOICE we are looking at STRESS.

What is it? Who has it? How to see it? What can be done about it?

Many people will say “I work well under pressure” on their CV’s but the reality can be very different. Stress at work can sneak up on you and many people do not even recognise that their moods, reactions, relationships can all be negatively affected by it.

Work-related stress, depression or anxiety is defined as a harmful reaction people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work.

The latest estimates from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) show:

  • The total number of cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2014/15 was 440,000 cases, a prevalence rate of 1380 per 100,000 workers.

  • The number of new cases was 234,000 , an incidence rate of 740 per 100,000 workers. The estimated number and rate have remained broadly flat for more than a decade.

  • The total number of working days lost due to this condition in 2014/15 was 9.9 million days. This equated to an average of 23 days lost per case.

  • In 2014/15 stress accounted for 35% of all work related ill health cases and 43% of all working days lost due to ill health.

  • Stress is more prevalent in public service industries, such as education; health and social care; and public administration and defence.

  • By occupation, jobs that are common across public service industries (such as health; teaching; business, media and public service professionals) show higher levels of stress as compared to all jobs.

  • The main work factors cited by respondents as causing work related stress, depression or anxiety (LFS, 2009/10-2011/12) were workload pressures, including tight deadlines and too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support.

The numbers are shocking and there could be so much more done by employers and crucially ourselves. The following articles will try to shed light on the subject and hopefully help one or two people along the way.

Physical and mental stress

Physical Stress is bodily and shows in illness, tiredness and lethargy. Muscles are sore, stiff and tense and posture suffers as the person slouches through fatigue. Skin is dull and hair appears lank. Sleep patterns are very erratic.

Mental Stress is emotional and more difficult to rectify. Depression, mood swings, anger, frustration, confusion, paranoid behaviour, jealousy or withdrawal are all familiar signs in general.

Factors which effect stress levels (excluding work pressures) include illness, alcohol, smoking, exams, pregnancy, divorce, moving, death in family, lifestyle, drugs, poor nutrition, unemployment, poor sleep and an overactive mind.

Ways to minimise the effects of Stress

  • 8 hours sleep plus 2 hours relaxation each day

  • Do what you can and leave the rest

  • Eat regular and sensible food

  • Reduce coffee intake to 2 cups a day or decaffeinated

  • Avoid cola drinks as they contain caffeine and stimulants

  • Take regular exercise, to help the body manage stress

  • Take up yoga or tai chi for relaxation techniques

  • Therapeutic massage can relieve deep muscular tension

  • Take up a relaxing hobby

After reading these articles don’t stay silent please....


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