April’s a spring month: the time when the ground thaws and the air sweetens with the full perfume of blooming flowers. Long-hidden skin is uncovered and exposed to the elements. It’s the time of unfettering, unfurling and release.
If only we could enjoy it. By all measures, the UK is stressed out of its mind.
Stress is a pernicious and silent killer. The Health and Safety Executive, in 2015/16, stated that 488,000 Britons suffered from severe workplace stress, and that work related stress accounted for 37% of work related ill health and 45% of days lost in 2015/16. As an organization that knows how hard its employees work, TQUK wants to raise awareness of April as Stress Awareness Month so that all our fellow organizations can work to reduce stress and promote well-being.
Stress can affect all areas of life, causing particular damage to your health, from mental illness to cardiovascular issues to fertility.
Cortisol, a chemical produced by your brain in response to stress, actively compromises your immune system by inhibiting histamine secretion and inflammatory responses to alien invaders, increasing your susceptibility to infection and viruses like the common cold and influenza. Your central nervous and endocrine system’s increased adrenal and cortisol production can also lead to insomnia, irritability, anxiety and depression. An overabundance of stress can even cause chronic back pain and headaches, both scourges in offices everywhere, and even long term heart conditions. The list of long-term health conditions caused by stress is remarkable.
As you can imagine, the effects of stress can hinder and harm an employee’s performance in the workplace. The American Psychological Association has listed ways stress’s effects on the body can manifest in work performance. Stress affects your ability to learn, process information and your ability to apply that information to analytical situations. Work quality often dips. A massive workload and a lack of peer support can also foster feelings and helplessness, create resentment between colleagues, heighten paranoia about job security and diminish self-esteem. The old adage that a happy worker is a busy worker certainly holds true.
And of course, stress experienced in the workplace is often experienced at home. A frayed relationship at home can feed back into the stress you already feel at work, amplifying the negative feelings you may already be experiencing.
For those of you experiencing high levels of stress, it is important to identify the sources of your stress and cope with it as well as you can. After all, stress is a normal part of life and can’t be eliminated altogether. Learn what stress is, where it comes from and how it manifests in your behaviour. There is a multitude of ways to deal with your stress, such as time-management techniques, breathing exercises, mindfulness, exercising and more.
TQUK is doing its part by making regulated courses in health education as widely available as possible. We offer a Level 1 Certificate in Well-Being (RQF), with a particular unit devoted to stress management, for centres offering training courses to develop their learners’ knowledge of health issues.
Peruse our website and discover how you can work with us to improve people’s lives.