Does stress and anxiety impact your work?

In 2013/14, 11.3 million working days were lost due to workplace stress, anxiety and depression. It is undeniable that our mental health, as a nation, is suffering and our work lives can be a cause of this.

When our careers are going well and our workplace is a happy place, our self-esteem is high, we have a sense of achievement and colleagues who we feel safe with. We can go home and rest or play easily. Stress, anxiety and depression do not come home with us or follow us into work. We experience life’s inevitable bumps and rollercoasters without our sense of self-esteem being destroyed.

Self-esteem comes from having a sense of belonging; believing that we are capable and knowing our contributions are valued. A happy work life can help us to tick all of these boxes and provide us with an income that supports our home life and recreational activities.

Unfortunately, the workplace is often plagued with long working hours, high expectations and unmanageable pressure, along with misunderstandings, complicated or toxic relationships. Our ability to cope and achieve – our self-esteem; can all be diminished and leave us feeling trapped. Feeling stressed, anxious or depressed leads to poor physical well-being. Some of the physical symptoms are fatigue, dizziness and headaches. Having these symptoms can cause worry and distress, adding to the original issues and pressures.

Causes of workplace stress include:

  • High workloads; with unrealistic deadlines making people feel rushed, under pressure and overwhelmed.
  • Insufficient workloads; making people feel that their skills are being underused.
  • Lack of interpersonal support or poor working relationships leading to a sense of isolation.
  • Being asked to do a job with insufficient experience or training.
  • Difficulty settling into a new promotion, both in terms of meeting the new role’s requirements and adapting to changes in relationships with colleagues.
  • Concerns about job security, lack of career opportunities or level of pay.
  • Bullying or harassment.
  • Blame cultures where people are afraid to get things wrong or to admit to making mistakes.
  • Poor physical working environment, e.g. excessive heat, cold or noise, inadequate lighting, uncomfortable seating, malfunctioning equipment etc.

How employers can help:

  • Ensure fair and realistic expectations and workloads are in place.
  • Have regular appraisals and check-ins with staff to discuss what’s going well and what could be better. Give them an opportunity to talk about anything that may be troubling them.
  • Have appropriate bullying and harassment procedures in place and adhere to them.
  • Make sure all staff take holiday that they are entitled to.
  • Be open and supportive to employee’s emotional and physical needs.
  • Know what support is available for yourself and your employees.
  • Outsource administrative and accounting work to reduce workloads, or to cover holiday/sick leave.
  • Create a safe working environment.

Workplace stress is often inevitable. Finding support and reflecting on the situation can be crucial in moving forward and finding healthy ways of coping. When you choose counselling as your way of coping it can provide new perspective and insight.

When working with clients who are struggling at work or with relationships I’m a firm believer that knowledge is power. My goal is to empower people to help them find their own way forward. By increasing your understanding of yourself and others, you can take back some control, over your life.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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