Stress can affect anyone at any time. Research has shown that work related stress can hit any level of a company and is not confined to one career sector, job, department or industry.
The definition of stress that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) use is: “The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work.”
What many people do not realise is that stress is not an illness, it is a state. It can become an illness if the stress is too excessive or is prolonged. Stress can affect people in different ways and what one person may find stressful can be normal to another person. With every new challenge and tasks a person encounters, they have to decide whether then can cope with the pressure of getting it right first time, that is if they have enough resources. If they don’t, that is when the stress kicks in and depending on the various factors, is how they will deal with it, including:
- their background
- their skills and experiences
- their personality
- their personal circumstances
- their individual characteristics
- their health status
- their ethnicity, gender, age or if they have a disability
- other demands both in and outside work
Work should be good for employees if it is well designed, if not then it can be a great source of pressure. Pressure can be a motivating and positive factor which can help us achieve goals and perform better. It is natural for stress to become a main reaction when the pressure becomes excessive.
Managers have the responsibility of ensuring that the work given to the team does not make them ill. Understanding how to spot signs and symptoms of stress within the team and the manager should also know to reduce the stress, if it ever occurs.
Signs of stress in individuals
If you do suffer from some of the following symptoms, it may mean that you are feeling the effects of stress. If you do think that you are suffering with stress, then you need to talk to someone and seek advice from your GP.
Please note that these may also be indicative of other conditions. If you do have any worries, please seek advice from your GP.
- Negative or depressive feeling
- Disappointed with yourself
- Increased emotional reactions e.g. more sensitive to situations
- Loneliness, withdrawn
- Loss of motivation commitment and confidence
- Mood swings (not behavioural)
- Confusion, indecision
- Cannot concentrate
- Poor memory
Changes from your normal behaviour
- Changes in eating habits
- Increased smoking, drinking or drug taking
- Mood swings effecting your behaviour
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Twitchy, nervous behaviour
- Change in attendance such as arriving later or taking more time off
Why should you take action?
No one can work under stress or with any of the symptoms above. Working whilst under stress can turn into a mental or physical illness. There are many benefits to seeking help and advice from your GP such as:
People feel more motivated and committed
- Morale will be high
- People work harder and perform better – increasing their earning power
- People feel that they are part of a team and the decision-making process
- Relationships with colleagues will improve
- People are happy in their work and won’t want to leave
- Line managers can outwardly show their duty of care
- Line managers can demonstrate good management skills that could help their promotability and career benefits.
How to deal with personal issues?
Stress can become unnoticed and gradually build up if more pressure is applied from either work, home or in daily life. Most people can cope with major issues in life and can find them an exciting challenge, but for many they are too overwhelming and demanding which can result in stress.
Stress can effect people in different ways and if the problem is not tackled or understood by the person themselves, then the stress can lead to physical and mental illness.
If you do think that you are suffering with stress or any mental health problem, it is advisable to speak to your GP. Also speak to your Line Manager, Human Resources department or Occupational Health provider.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Jess Phillips often writes about Health and Safety issues within the workplace and regularly writes on The Workplace Depot blog.