Stress in the work place is an ‘epidemic’ shouts the Independent newspaper’s headline. Statistics are plentiful and well researched by such institutions as the Health & Safety Executive, the MIND charity, to the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health.
The reality is that stress at work is the single biggest cause of sickness in the UK, with the occupations worst affected being nurses, teachers and care workers. Middle management seem to be the firing line the most, having stress poured on them from above and thrown up from below.
No doubt we each have a story of someone totally loosing their temper at work and going berserk. The stressors are too numerous to count. Harassment from bosses and colleagues, to a computer that doesn’t work as fast as you want it to, to a colleague with annoying habits, to a boss who is constantly on your back to work harder in less time.
A quarter of people say they have quit a job because of an unsupportive manager, while 17% have left because of excessive workloads. Admit it, we have all phoned in sick to avoid work, “Sorry Boss I’ve got stomach bug” is the most common lie, closely followed by “I’ve got a splitting headache”.
If we were to tell the truth, the conversation would be more like “I just can’t cope with coming into work today, I need a day off to recharge my batteries to deal with the long hours, the excessive work load and the bullying I get from you and other colleagues.”
According to the Health & Safety Executive’s survey, over 105 million days are lost to stress each year and which costs UK employers a staggering £1.24 billion annually.
Perhaps the Independent newspaper’s headline is accurate. Stress in the work place really is at epidemic levels.
But what can be done?
Get yourself a job which you really want to do. You will inevitably suffer from stress doing a job you hate. So be brave. If your job is literally making you ill, if you are losing sleep or losing appetite, it really is time to get out and try something different. Its about taking responsibility for your own physical and emotionally well being. No one can do it for you expect yourself.
Avoid making the same mistakes 10 or 20 times. By identifying what drives you crazy and what sends your stress levels sky high, you can better avoid them.
Talk about how you feel. Better communication with your boss and co-workers is the only way to communicate your feelings and needs. Don’t be shy to tell your boss you need help.
Regular exercise is the best way to lift your mood, revitalise yourself and focus both your mind and body on the job at hand.
Healthy eating reduces stress in so many ways. Click here to read a blog about how eating habits affect stress levels, from the www.stressexperts.co.uk website. Its beneficial to understand how low blood sugar can make you feel anxious and irritable.
Don’t drink so much. Again, I recommend you read yet another blog from the www.stressexperts.co.uk website on ‘Alcohol and Stress’ here. Alcohol simply numbs your feelings of anxiety and stress but does nothing towards eliminating them. As pointed out in the ‘Alcohol and Stress’ blog, ‘The evidence is clear, alcohol enhances your stress and often, with too much, pushes you over the edge.’
And last but not least, get enough sleep. Even though stress causes insomnia, a lack of sleep adds to the vicious circle and leaves you vulnerable to even more stress. After a good night’s sleep, you will find yourself able to cope with workplace stress better. The age old advice of 8 hours sleep is still valid in todays hectic life-styles.
Remember that Mike Fisher from the British Association of Anger Management (BAAM) has more than 17 years experience, helping over 16,000 people deal with their stress and anger. He doesn’t guarantee to get rid of your stress but he does guarantee to teach you the tools to combat your stress and teaches you the practical tools to understand and deal with your stress.
You’ll be amazed by just how much you’ll learn.