Too stressed to notice that April was Stress Awareness Month?
April was Stress Awareness Month and yet with so many stressors in our lives at the moment I think we can be forgiven for not being aware of it?
However, I have been thinking about how many of our clients are routinely impacted on stress that comes from work, either from the pressure of the work itself and or difficult relationships at work. And too much stress can so easily have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. Stress can lead to anxiety and depression that brings with it many symptoms that can prevent people from getting the most out of life.
And did you know that employers should be thinking about whether your work is well designed, organised and managed? Employers in the UK have a legal duty of care to protect the health, safety and welfare of all employees and yet according to research conducted by The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 828,000 workers suffered from work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2019/20 and that is thought not to include any impact from COVID-19.
Other research quoted by the HSE also shows that workers in the public service industries tend to have higher incidences of stress.
It can, of course, be difficult to attribute stress to just one source and yet if you find yourself saying that work is stressful, or if you notice that someone else tends to exhibit signs of stress in relation to work then it can be helpful to keep in mind that there are ways to manage and reduce stress. It is also helpful to remember that if you are stressed at work then your employer has a responsibility too.
Connections have also been made between stress and the prevalence of bullying. A YouGov Poll for the TUC found that 29% of people had been the victims of workplace bullying.
But it is not just adults in the workplace who are suffering from stress. Children’s stress has been something that the Office of the Children Commissioner has been investigating for some time.
Fears around the impact of COVID-19 early in 2020 led the Commission to conduct a survey and they discovered that 88% of children reported that they had felt stressed while 24% of children felt stressed most days or every day.
Marybeth Mendenhall, our Senior Associate and a Systemic Psychotherapist told me “The dynamics within organisations can usefully be likened to those that occur in families – dysfunctional organisations are like dysfunctional families. For the members belonging to the group, harmful behaviours may easily become so familiar that it is only when a new member joins or an outsider gets to see and experience being part of the group that the harmful dynamics can be identified”.
Ia Tollstam, our Consultant Supervisor for business services told me “many medium and large organisations have services in place to help managers think about stress and employees deal with stress. Access to counselling is commonplace in many organisations but not so much for those that are smaller”.
She added, “There is so much an organisation can do to support its staff and the value of a workforce who feels looked after is something that most successful employers understand.”
As Marybeth says, “Just like with a family, members can really help each other out when trouble strikes and good communications and strong relationships can build resilience that minimises the impact of difficult times or events.”
Speaking specifically about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on families our Senior Associate Psychotherapist Monika Smolar offers “family meetings which can be a really useful way of ensuring everyone gets a chance to share if they are suffering with stress. I recommend making them regular but building them around a fun and pleasurable activity such as a games evening or special meal.”
In talking to my colleagues about stress at work and in families I have found myself thinking about how more and more of our work is with children and adolescents. It seems that stress is affecting everyone.
Stressed parents equal stressed children, stressed managers a stressed workforce and stressed teachers stressed pupils so to end I guess I am thinking about just how useful it can be to think about the different roles you have in life – parent, manager, partner, friend, colleague, teacher – when you think of that role can you recognise stress and if so, what impact might that be having on those who count on you?
Psychotherapist, Counsellor, Couples Counsellor and Coach
UKCP registrant, MBACP (accred), UKRCP
PGDip, MA, Adv Dip Ex Psych
Nicholas Rose & Associates
Counselling, psychotherapy and coaching for children, adults, couples and families.
Read more blogs by Nicholas Rose
Read the previous one – Mind Matters – would you know if you were having a panic attack?
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