11 million days lost due to work-related stress

When 11 million days are lost to work-related stress each in the UK, you would have thought that it’s understood, but it’s perhaps one of the most misunderstood areas of mental health.

Work-related stress might start as a feeling that you can’t cope, that the work is too demanding or in many cases unachievable, but it can lead to anxiety and depression if left unattended.

According to HSE, work-related stress is “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work.”

Where work-related stress starts

Work gives everyone some much-needed routine, purpose, and of course, the money we all need to pay bills, but what are the first warning signs of stress in the workplace?

Work-related stress can include: 

  • Being asked to complete a task that you don’t feel comfortable or trained for.
  • Uncertainty in task details or your job description.
  • A feeling of losing control of the tasks you’re responsible for.
  • Poor management.
  • Bullying and difficult relationships at work.
  • Pressure to meet deadlines and targets.
  • Unrealistic expectations.
  • A lack of diversity and inclusion.

Symptoms of stress at work

Whether you feel them in your mind or your body, there are many signals that you should listen to when it comes to stress in the workplace. 

From a lack of confidence to emotional outbursts, we start to act and feel differently when we feel that something isn’t right. You might not be able to concentrate with your mind wondering, feel unmotivated, hard on yourself about your capabilities, depressed, anxious, or find yourself snapping at people.

Your body might also respond, with stomach aches, headaches, fatigue, and you might often feel tearful. 

Another key indicator that something isn’t right is the impact on your home life, which could mean losing your temper with loved ones, emotional eating or starving yourself, self-harm, addiction to alcohol or substances, or simply curling up and crying frequently. 

Self-help for work-related stress

In addition to seeking help from a qualified therapist, such as the AoC Trust in Dudley, you can also try some strategies within the workplace: 

  1. Build a support network within the workplace to help when times get tough.
  2. Being adept at project and time management — reassures micro-managers who like to know that everything is on schedule.
  3. Say no to tasks that can’t be performed within the requested time frame or if there is no capacity.
  4. Try to make your breaks relaxing — choose fresh air and a packed lunch over canteen lunches.
  5. Set boundaries on working hours and take allocated breaks.
  6. Switch off when you’re not at work and actively enjoy your time off — work/life balance.
  7. Acknowledge that you cannot control everything.
  8. Use positivity to remind yourself of the skills you do have and what you have to offer.

If any of the content in this article triggers feelings or you feel you need to talk, text ‘support’ to 60075.

The AoC Trust provides employee assistance packages for businesses, which can prevent and reduce absence and position businesses as an employer of choice. You can recommend the AoC and book a consultation to discuss therapy packagers here.

Found this article interesting? Read ‘why 1 in 3 suffer trauma’.