The stress factor
If there’s one topic that’s guaranteed to hit the workplace wellbeing pages on a regular basis, it’s that of stress. Some of the more dramatic headlines of the past few months were generated by the story last autumn of how hospital stress –related admissions have increased.
And while it’s true that stress admissions are on the up – it’s worth making sure as much information about stress is available for employees in order to help combat it.
It’s worth remembering that in itself stress isn’t a bad thing. It’s one of the things that help up success at job interviews, pass exams and generally get on with things. A little amount of stress can act as a useful motivator.
However, when we receive too much stress – that’s when it becomes unhealthy. As the mental health charity Mind puts it: “stress is not a medical diagnosis, but severe stress that continues for a long time may lead to a diagnosis of depression or anxiety, or more severe mental health problems”.
Stress and your health
So, while it’s often a common misconception that all stress is bad, it’s certainly the case that too much stress is bad for us. While it’s not a cause of heart attacks (the British heart Foundations says that stress “is not a direct risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but it’s possible that it may contribute to your risk level. It all depends on your coping mechanisms”.
What this means is that people who try to cope with stress by smoking, drinking alcohol and eating too much could be increasing their risk of cardiovascular disease.
Managing stress doesn’t need to be a massive project and you can begin quite easily and without requiring a lot of effort. The first step is to recognise stress symptoms – these can include becoming tense, inability to focus, and becoming agitated. If you are suffering stress or anxiety, then speak to your doctor who will be able to offer advice to help you.
The NHS Choices website also has some useful advice on recognising your stress triggers. This is done by keeping a journal of stressful episodes over two to four weeks, and taking a note of various things such as what you were doing and who you were with when the stressful episode occurred.
Jen Jones writes on topics relates to health in the workplace on behalf of AXA PPP business health insurance.