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What if I am suffering from stress in the workplace all the time?

Today is World Mental Health Day (every October 10th) and is a day recognised by The World Health Organisation for people to spread awareness and understanding about mental health.

Every year the awareness day provides people with the chance to talk about mental health issues and what more needs to be done to improve the services for those struggling with their mental health.

This year the theme is mental health in the workplace and some of the statistics are concerning:

  • Nearly 15% of people experience mental health problems in the workplace.
  • Women in full-time employment are nearly twice as likely to have a common mental health problem as full-time employed men.
  • Almost 13% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.
  • Better mental health support in workplaces could save £8 billion a year for UK businesses.

So, what if you are suffering from stress in the workplace?  What can you do about it?

Every day, we are bombarded with all sorts of triggers for stress. Alarm clocks jolt us awake, to take trains that are overcrowded and late, to get us to jobs that seem to need more hours than there are in the day.

Constant telephone calls, emails and text messages ping through into our concentration, dividing our attention and distracting us from what we are trying to get done.

So work ends up coming home with us, either mentally or physically, to then add to the cycle for the next day.

All of these things can cause our body to activate its stress response, which leads to a cascade of chemicals in our bodies. From an evolutionary point of view, these chemicals were triggered if we were confronted with something that threatened our survival. A lion, for example, wanting us for lunch. Our life depended on our ability to fight it or run from it, and so these chemicals such as cortisol were released in order to help us do this. Our blood pressure was increased, as was our heart rate. Our digestion and immune responses weren’t so important in those moments, and so our body’s focus on these was decreased.

However it is not just the threat of being eaten that prompts this response these days. It’s modern life. And a job. And all sorts of common obligations that can lead to this stress response.

Cortisol has many impacts in the body. If at levels that are too high for too long, it can start to cause problems. Ever noticed that as soon as you are stressed for a while, you seem to get every sickness that is going around the office? Or that you start to lose your appetite or get indigestion or heart-burn? While there is often not a simple, stand alone reason for these things, and if concerned you should see a medical practitioner, it could be that chronic stress is affecting you.

There are various ways to manage this, the first of which is often talking to someone about it. Speak with a trusted friend or use the specific reporting channels at work, as this can help greatly. There are also trained professionals, such as the team at Cognacity, to help you out with managing stress, too. For while in short bursts, stress can help us perform, too much of it is certainly not a good thing.

For more information on Cognacity’s clinical services and resilience training programmes, please contact a member of the team.