Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. A bit of stress is normal and can help us achieve great things, but when stress isn’t under control it can cause serious illnesses. That’s why it is so important to manage stress levels to avoid stress-related physical and mental health issues.
Stress is a major problem in modern society and is a leading cause of sickness absence in the UK. According to figures generated as part of the ‘2016 Labour Force Survey’ stress, depression and anxiety accounted for the majority of days lost due to work-related ill health (11.7 million days), with an average of 24 days lost per case for stress, depression and anxiety.
The relationship between stress and physical health is complex: stress can cause physical symptoms and illness, and physical illness can heighten stress.
For workers who are absent because of stress there will almost certainly have been quite a long period before going off sick when they struggled with low mood and were unhappy at work. Could you spot the signs?
When pressure becomes continuous it can lead to stress and be the start of a health problem that could impact on our personal and working lives in very negative ways. Here are five ideas for tackling work-related stress, before it takes hold.
Problems with stress are on the increase, so employers will need to become proficient at recognising the signs of escalating stress amongst employees and offering them support.
Carrying out a stress risk assessment is a good way of tackling workplace stress before it becomes a more substantial issue. Identifying factors that may be causing work-related stress as part of regular risk assessment processes, and then taking action to reduce these hazards, can have huge benefits for organisations.
Fit for Work offers free, online work-related health advice and guidance to anyone looking for advice and support about an existing case of sickness absence, or about issues that may result in sickness absence. Employed people who have been off work due to illness for four weeks or more can be referred for a telephone assessment with a Fit for Work case manager in order to identify all the obstacles preventing the person from returning to work. The Fit for Work case manager can also provide recommendations about how the obstacles can be addressed and to potentially enable an early return to work. Visit the Fit for Work website or call the free telephone advice line on 0800 032 6235 (English) or 0800 032 6233 (Welsh). There is a separate service running in Scotland (0800 019 2211).