Many of my clients find themselves in similar situations - frustrated, angry, and stressed. Some are becoming depressed, others developing anxiety. Most have difficulty concentrating and lack motivation. Chest pains, nausea, insomnia, low energy, ringing in the ears, and headaches are quite common. What is causing this epidemic? Work. Stress at work is literally making them sick.
Budget cuts mean less staff to the same job and meet the same deadlines. Requests for additional support staff are regularly denied, despite an acknowledgement that there simply aren't the resources to do the job efficiently or effectively. Workplaces have become reactive rather than proactive, with the minimum done and mistakes made regularly. Not because of incompetence, but because of burnout. With the economic downturn and reduced staff, employers are expecting more and more from less and less resources. People are expected to work longer hours and effectively be 'on call' and respond to emails outside of work hours (even non-urgent matters). The latest technology is both a blessing and a curse. As a result our brains never switch off, we start to be permanently in work mode. Even though employers have a legal duty of care, most people are afraid to challenge these expectations through fear of being the next in the unemployment line.
Stress is serious and can actually kill you. Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death - heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, cirrhosis of the liver, accidents and suicide. Stress-related ailments and complaints account for 75 - 90% of all doctors visits. Forty-three percent of adults suffer adverse health effects as a result of stress. Stress accounts for problems we often don't even realise are directly related to stress. The table below outlines some of the signs and symptoms of stress. If stress persists over the long-term you will experiences changes in neuroendocrine, cardiovascular, autonomic and immunological functioning, leading to mental and physical illness. Keep an eye out for next weeks blog for tips to manage stress better at work and at home, but for now take a breath. Go easy on yourself. Accept that you are only one person and one person can only do so much. Just do your best, and that's all anyone can reasonably ask for.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF STRESS
If stress persists, there are changes in neuroendocrine, cardiovascular, autonomic and immunological functioning, leading to mental and physical illness.
DEBORAH FARRELL (MCounPsych)