What Everybody Ought to Know About Stress at Work
In 2011/12, the Labour Force Survey reported 428,000 cases of workplace stress, which contributed to the UK losing 10.4 million working days. Clearly, stress is a significant issue to the UK workforce, especially since these statistics don’t show the unreported cases of everyday stress and anxiety. The LFS reported that these issues often involved employees feeling overwhelmed by their workload, tight deadlines, workplace bullying and poor management. Stress manifests itself in many different ways, and can affect both mental and physical health, but there are common symptoms which you can identify in yourself and in others. A particular behaviour is increased drinking of alcohol, which can escalate into alcoholism if unchecked. Other health problems that workplace stress may cause are heart palpitations and insomnia. PruHealth UK also identify the distressing issue of ‘desk rage’ and violence in the workplace. They report that these are on the rise, and include behaviours such as rudeness and swearing, aggressive gestures such as fist slamming, and employees suffering breakdowns at work.
These problems can be prevented in numerous ways, if behaviour is monitored and communication maintained in an open and friendly way. It is important to acknowledge your limitations when a workload feels threatening or impossible. Pride and fear can often lead to workers attempting to tackle more than they could realistically handle. Being aware of yourself and accepting that you may need help occasionally is extremely important in promoting self-esteem and managing workplace stress, so don’t hesitate to make it clear when your workload is becoming too much for you. Also keeping a realistic perspective on life is important. The office or workplace environment can sometimes seem like a microcosm, but don’t lose touch of your life outside of work. Stay in touch with friends and family, and do the things you enjoy. Taking time to look after yourself, perhaps by exercising or participating in a hobby, can reduce the stresses of the workplace by helping you realise your priorities. If you feel you need more help than this to manage your stress, or if you feel that you are reaching a crisis point, it is vital that you talk to your employers immediately, and don’t be afraid to contact your GP for help when you feel you need it.