Work is the most common cause of stress for adults here in the UK.
According to the results of a recent report by Perkbox, 59% of us experience workplace-related stress on a regular basis, while nearly a fifth of survey respondents say they encounter moderate to high levels of stress in this area of their life several times a week.
That means there’s a lot of people up and down the country who are likely to be feeling anxious, tired, overwhelmed and emotionally drained as a result of their work activities.
And that’s without considering the physical impacts that this level of stress may be having on their bodies. Chronic stress – ie, stress that’s experienced over a prolonged period of time – is known to cause a range of unpleasant and sometimes damaging physiological responses. Highly stressed individuals will often complain of headaches, muscle tension, stomach problems and chest pain; they’ll also be more susceptible to colds and infections, because ongoing stress will suppress the immune system over time.
What is it about working life that’s troubling us?
Long hours appear to be the biggest problem for our overworked population, with 21% of those interviewed in this study citing their seemingly never-ending working days as their main source of stress. Unmanageable workloads and unrealistic deadlines are often blamed for the current ‘work ‘til you drop’ culture.
Respondents also claimed to be worried about their work performance, maintaining customer satisfaction levels, and dealing with office politics.
Add work-related concerns to other sources of stress – such as family matters, poor health and money woes – and it would appear many of us are living in emotional turmoil much of the time, for reasons that are often beyond our control.
Why do we need to tackle workplace stress head-on?
Put simply, staff who are suffering from chronic stress don’t perform as well as those who feel they are on top of their stress levels. As well as presenting a wide range of physical symptoms – which often leads to the individual taking extra sick days in a bid to recover – chronic stress leads to forgetfulness, poor judgement, procrastination and an inability to focus. Over time, this will lead to inefficiency and poor productivity, two things that will only serve to worsen the employee’s attitude towards themselves and their work.
It’s also worth noting that stress is a major cause of sickness absence in the workplace; it’s expected to cost UK businesses over £5 billion a year.
We may not be able to stop stress – but we do need to find better ways to deal with it, not only for our own health, but for the benefit of our economy.
What can be done to tackle the stress epidemic?
Employers have a certain responsibility to monitor stress within their organisations and take steps to help employees deal with its negative effects. Many are doing this already by introducing flexi time incentives, encouraging better lines of communication with management, and offering complimentary counselling and support services to those who need them.
However, as individuals, we also need to find ways to manage our work-related stress. Seemingly small changes to our routines can often have the most impact. Meditation, for example, reduces stress by releasing pent-up tension and encouraging deeper breathing; just 5-10 minutes of mindfulness each day can help to bring us back into balance. Regular exercise releases endorphins, which are known mood-enhancers, so going for a walk or booking into that class at the gym can make all the difference. Even wearing OrthoSole insoles in our footwear can help to keep us comfortable and well-supported – these innovative products provide a whole host of other benefits for those in active jobs who are on their feet for much of the day.
If you have suffered from (or are still suffering from) work-related stress, and are taking active steps to manage your mental health, we’d love to hear what’s working for you! Tweet us @orthosole with your tips and ideas.