Stress – the balancing act

Written by: Fit for Work team | Posted in: Blog

stress - the balancing actSo many of us have such full lives that it’s often difficult to balance our various commitments such as work, family, hobbies, etc. Many will talk about work stress and whilst work is by no means the sole cause of stress, it’s certainly a major contributor for many, particularly for those who struggle to switch off fully from work. Improvements in technology, such as smart phones and the almost universal availability of internet connections, mean that we are always contactable. Even holidays aren’t sacred for most of us – in order to facilitate a smoother return to work after our break, many of us check emails and phone messages throughout our ‘time off’… just in case.

Those who work full time spend over 20% of their lives in the workplace, so it’s not surprising that stress levels at work have a major impact on a person’s wellbeing. Thankfully, organisations can do a number of things to look after the mental and physical health and wellbeing of staff, yet these don’t have to be major undertakings. Simple changes to employees’ daily routines can make a great difference, for example:

  • making sure employees don’t eat lunch at their desks;
  • organising walks and outdoor activities on the day;
  • reminding employees to turn off their smartphones and not to check emails after they leave work;
  • having healthy snacks available and healthy meals in work canteens;
  • encouraging openness about mental wellbeing.

 Stress is a major factor in long-term sickness absence. In fact, mental health issues are the reason given for 19% of long-term sickness absences in England, and 23% of long-term absences in Wales (Source: Labour Force Survey, October 2010 – September 2013) so it’s something that should be managed in the workplace if organisations are to remain productive. For guidance on work health issues, including stress and mental health issues, why not make use of the Fit for Work advice service? There is a wealth of information on relevant topics, an advice hub, and the opportunity to ask a question. Fit for Work also provides access to a free and voluntary occupational health assessment culminating in a personalised Return to Work plan, for those who are employed and who have been off sick for four weeks or more. For more information visit the referrals page on the website.

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