⬢ Stress is a worldwide problem, with more people working long hours, and finding it hard to switch off.
⬢ 2 million workdays are lost in the UK are due to employee stress and anxiety!
⬢ 1 in 6 employees suffer from depression
⬢ Total annual sick pay costs to employers in the UK are 6.9billion
⬢ Work-related illnesses are the primary cause of lost working days. They cause long-term suffering and can be permanent, which is why putting the right prevention schemes in place in the office is crucial. Work-related stress develops when a person is unable to cope with demands placed upon them. It can affect a person’s ability to perform properly at work.
⬢ Office work can contribute to stress, depression, anxiety and musculoskeletal disorders which result in reduced efficiency, reduced productivity and an increase in sick leave. Relationships at work are also vital in creating a positive and productive environment.
⬢ In offices we also inhibit natural movement of the spine, making this a primary problem area, and also reducing the blood and oxygen pumped to the brain thus affecting our mood, concentration and stress levels.
What is Stress?
The fight or flight response is also known as the acute stress response, and whilst helpful in the wild when running from a lion, it can get in the way of staff productivity when induced by an upcoming deadline.
The fight or flight response makes our body experience two types of reactions:
⬢ Physical symptoms like a pounding heart, sweating or a dry mouth.
⬢ Emotionally and mentally affected by fear and anxiety.
Everything behaviourally can be explained by the nervous system: our fight or flight mode: our personality in stress is very different to when we are grounded and feeling safe.
Acute stress is a normal primal bodily response. It happens so fast it precedes conscious processing. It floods you with enough energy to win a fight or flee situation in times of danger. This mechanism has been helping humans survive for millions of years. The cortisol hormone gets blood to your limbs and gives you the energy to run away.
Our body cannot differentiate between a perceived threat and a real threat: our body thinks that that email or that deadline are as bad as that lion! ‘Little traumas’ happen every day, and when we hit overwhelm, we hit acute stress.
Because we often don’t discharge by running from the lion or fighting back, stress releases chemicals including adrenaline and cortisol can stay in the body: we haven’t discharged: leading to obesity, diabetes, hypertension, memory issues, cognitive issues, coronary artery disease.
The four common categories of stress-related symptoms are:
⬢ Cognitive – Worrying, forgetfulness, negative thoughts, lack of focus.
⬢ Emotional – Feeling irritable, angry, short-tempered, powerless, lonely, unhappy, depressed
⬢ Physical – Aches, pains, muscle tension, nausea, chest pain, frequent illness
⬢ Behavioural – Eating more/ eating less than usual, sleeping too much/ sleeping too little, isolating oneself, ignoring responsibilities
The latest Mental Health at Work Report by Business in the Community in 2018 cited:
- 61% of employees have experienced mental health issues due to work or a work-related factor.
- 1 in 3 of the UK workforce have been diagnosed with a mental health condition at some point in their lifetimes.
- Only 16% of employees feel able to disclose mental-ill health to their managers.
- 30% of managers report a lack of facilities when it comes to supporting mental health and wellbeing.
- 85% of managers acknowledge employee wellbeing is their responsibility, but only 30% have received any training.