Stress

Stress has been described as the pressure we experience in situations that threaten our well-being or tax our resources. The stress response is designed to enable us to deal with difficult challenges or to prompt us to get out of a dangerous situation.

Between April 2010 and March 2011, 1.2 million people report an illness caused by or made worse by work, with stress accounting for 400,000 of these reported illnesses. (HSE Labour Force Survey 2010/11)
Furthermore, it is estimated that nearly 10% of the UK's gross national product (GNP) is lost each year due to job generated stress.

In the short term, stress triggers the very protective "fight or flight" response, but a state of continual stress will eventually exhaust the body leading to decreased energy production, blood sugar problems, increased weight gain and reduced immunity.

You or your employees could be at risk if any of the following apply:

  • Excessive workload
  • Excessive caffeine intake
  • Emotional distress from a personal relationship
  • Smoking and social drug use
  • Excessive physical exercise
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

Signs and symptoms of stress include:

  • Chronic fatigue and exhaustion
  • Poor concentration
  • Disturbed sleep or insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Alcohol intolerance
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Frequent infections
  • Headaches
  • Poor digestion
  • Irritability
  • Poor memory
  • Muscle weakness
  • PMS

Nutrition

When we are poorly nourished, the effects of stress become even more pronounced. Good nutrition is extremely important in helping the body cope with prolonged exposure to stress. Nutrients such as vitamin C, magnesium and zinc can often become depleted during times of ongoing stress. Focusing on a diet that helps to balance blood sugar, support energy production and calm the nervous system can have a profound effect on helping the body cope when exposed to stress.

Lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle is fundamental to a healthy body. The following guidelines are general suggestions

  • Stress is never beneficial to your health, therefore identify any areas of stress and adopt more effective time management allowing space for relaxation.
  • Yoga classes or breathing techniques could be helpful. If stress is a serious consideration, counseling or employing a life-manager could be a good idea. If you are exhausted, a break from work or home is essential, you will need time out to recuperate.
  • Regular exercise is beneficial, such as: brisk walking, swimming, cycling, jogging or joining a gym