We had a great day manning our stand in the Wellbeing Zone at Hereford and Worcester Chamber of Commerce’s Business Expo on 6th October. As part of our work promoting good mental health at work, we invited visitors to our stand to complete a short questionnaire designed to gauge the levels of stress they were experiencing in their daily lives. The results are shown below:
The good news is that over half (55%) of those who completed the questionnaire came out with low or moderately-low levels of stress. It was no surprise that around half of those with the lowest stress levels were retired. What did surprise us were a couple of individuals with quite stressful jobs, e.g events management and social work, who had very low levels of stress. It goes to show some of us are just more chilled and stress-resilient than others.
At the other end of the scale, 18% of the visitors came out with high or very-high stress levels. When we talked to these people about their stress we found that around half of them were experiencing some form of personal trauma , e.g. a recent bereavement. In the others their stress was more long-term and work-related.
Most of us can cope with elevated levels of stress for reasonable periods of time, e.g. a month or two, without any adverse effects. However, stress becomes unsafe when it is long-term or when it starts to impact on our daily lives. Long-term stress can result in a range of emotional, physical and behavioural symptoms, including: moodiness and irritability, aches and pains and frequent minor ailments, and insomnia and increased use of alcohol. It is important that employers take steps to ensure their employees and are not subject to unreasonable levels of stress, not least because they have a legal duty of care. It is also in the employer’s interest to address the issue: stress is a major cause of sickness absence and when an employee is signed off with stress it is likely to be for an extended period -the average is 23 days. Long-term stress can also lead to other conditions such as anxiety and depression, and eventually burn-out. So, prevention is most definitely better than cure.
Enable Works Ltd provides training to help employers and employees manage stress.