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Workplace stress

Stress at work is something we all experience to a great or lesser extent throughout our lives. To a degree it can be positive, keeping us motivated and get things done. However, too much stress is harmful to our health, putting us under emotional and physical strain which can lead to sickness and depression.


Stress at its essence is a physical reaction of the sympathetic nervous system. When our body perceives there is a threat, it reacts with a “fight, flight or freeze” response, producing larger amounts of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. While the rush of energy and increased alertness can prove useful in a crisis and very likely served us well in times gone by, it is often not so helpful with most modern-day scenarios.


 Is workplace stress common?

Oh yes, very common. Stress is behind a substantial 40% of all work-related illness in the UK, creating a challenge for both employees, employers and the economy.


Currently the Health and Safety Executive Committee (HSE) reports that the highest rates of workplace stress in the UK are found in the industries of social work, human health, public administration, defence and education.


While both men and women are affected by workplace stress, women were almost 70% more likely to experience it, especially in the 35 – 44-year-old age group.


What’s stressing us out at work?

Hard work does not seem to be the problem, it has been shown that an organised workplace that is managed well can be positive for our health, providing a sense of purpose, camaraderie, and overall achievement.


Stress does arise if a workplace is neither well managed, organised or is unsupportive. This can stem from several challenges which could be one or more of the issues listed here:


  • A job environment that is unstable

  • External pressures like unreasonable clients, take-over by another company or negative press

  • Sexual harassment

  • Exceeding the standard hours for too long a time

  • Offered no encouragement and a feeling of being under-valued

  • Not allowed access to the right resources to carry out their job 

  • Issues with other colleagues including bullying

  • Unreasonable time frames to execute projects

  • Lack of clarity of what is being asked


What could the signs be that you are experiencing Workplace Stress?

There are many emotional, physical and behavioural signs of being highly stressed at work, a few are mentioned below:


Emotional signs could be:

  • Restlessness

  • Forgetfulness

  • Anger and/or agitation

  • Forgetfulness

  • Anxiety

  • Feelings of vulnerability


Physical signs can include:

  • Sleeping problems

  • Elevated heart rate or high blood pressure

  • Digestive problems

  • Back, neck or chest pain

  • Increased sweating

  • Loss of libido


Behavioural signs could be:

  • Angry outbursts

  • Crying often

  • Inability to concentrate

  • Avoiding social situations at work and/or in your personal life

  • Relationship problems

  • Nail biting or hair pulling



What happens if we don’t address this Workplace Stress?

Workplace Stress affects the stressed not the stressor. If not handled properly it can lead to poor job performance, reduced productivity and prolonged time booked off work which is not beneficial to the employee or employer. 

Psychologically, long term work-related stress can cause the onset of mental health conditions like low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, nervous breakdowns and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


What can be done to help Workplace Stress?

Your GP can prescribe medicine for stress and anxiety. However, this will not alleviate the problem, simply ease the symptoms so, they are not considered in and of themselves an effective long term treatment. Research suggests instead that the best approach is a psychological approach.


CBT and Hypnotherapy


HR departments can ask an employee to be assessed by a medical professional and determine whether CBT is suitable. Where appropriate it will usually involve weekly or fortnightly face-to-face sessions.

Many employees will remain at work during this period, while others may need a short-term therapy to facilitate an earlier return to the workplace.


For businesses, CBT can prove an extremely cost-effective way of improving productivity, reducing absence through sickness, or losing valued members of staff from the company’s payroll. 


Whether it is on a one-to-one basis or a team needing assistance, there are many benefits to consulting a therapist who can work with CBT, Hypnotherapy and Mindfulness.


Reach out today and let’s talk about taking your team to the next level.

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