Tag Archives: Stress

Signs of work stress

work stressAs your alarm goes off in the morning and you stir into consciousness, do thoughts of work start to feel you with dread? Do you find it difficult to get up? When you think of work do you get a pain in the chest? Have you lost interest in your work, feel you have no motivation and constantly feel exhausted?

Sounds like you?

It could mean you have job burnout where you have exhausted your capabilities or you have an increased workload putting pressure on you to perform or the high stress work environment and emotional demands of the job means you are unable to cope.  Sadly, the problem of stress and burnout are continuously rising within the UK and is a universal problem. Work stress issues are prevalent among clients who I see from Employment Assistant Programmes. You may not be surprised to hear that teaching and performance pay jobs make up a high amount of my clients.

What causes stress or job burnout?

There are many reasons that can cause stress or job burnout.

  1. Uncertainly in the workplace, for example take-over battles and redundancy threats can lead to stress and mistrust. As a recent employee at a local college, I can see the damage that re-organisation has caused.  When it was first announced staff members were working over and above their normal duties so it slowly became expected of them. Then as time lapsed staff didn’t know who to trust, apathy among the staff built, people were quick to blame each other rather than support each other and there was an overall lack of motivation.  In a large institution this is hard to manage especially when the organisation affects management as well. As a result levels of stress rise.
  1. Some jobs, for example like teachers, doctors, fireman, air traffic control, police officers, journalists and humanitarian aid work are known stressful jobs. The nature of the job is stressful and people are aware of this. However, long hours, poor pay, tight deadlines, media pressure, pressure to perform all adds to the stress. People in these jobs are overly stressed and eventually burnout, often resulting in them leaving the profession. I have a friend who recently re-trained as a teacher in a low performing school. She was highly motivated at the beginning and had a lot to offer the profession. However, after 2 years of constant pressure and lack of support, she is leaving the profession. This is not uncommon within the professions mentioned above.
  1. Overwork can be a response to demands of the firm or organisation, a sign of impending job burnout. Trying to make up for inefficiency with long hours, or attempts to increase take-home pay put a lot of pressure on employees. Overwork eventually leads to people wearing themselves out adding to their stress.
  1. Live events – The death within the family, divorce or separation, a serious accident can affect our health and well-being. Additionally life events such as financial worry or friction with the boss leads to physical illness and affect our overall mental well-being. I remember when I was in a serious car accident; I throw myself back into the job, thinking it would help me cope with the trauma. It just led to a spiral downturn resulting in me taking time out a year down the line.

So what are the warning signs of stress?

It is crucial to recognise the warning signs of stress. Often it is difficult for the person experiencing stress to recognise them, so it falls to spouse, family member or work colleagues.  The following physical signs are if these are the only signs then it is easier to spot. If you suffer from any of the symptoms below, then it may be worth reflecting on your job and how you feel about it.

  • Headache, noises in the ear, dizzy spells
  • Vague ill health, poor appetite and weight loss
  • Stomach ache and diarrhoea
  • Palpitations, chest pains
  • Nervous tics, nail biting and scratching
  • Sleeplessness and bad dreams
  • Irritability and depression
  • Fatigue and restlessness
  • Poor memory and concentration
  • Increased smoking, use of alcohol and tranquillizers

The importance of spotting early signs of stress cannot be over emphasised because simplejob burnout actions can often be taken. It will not necessarily cure the problem but it will help reduce them and prevent major health or mental problems.

What to do about burnout and job stress?

Steps to take to reduce work stress are discussed in the next blog post.

Psoriasis and your mental health

plaque type psoriasisMy psoriasis journey                                                                             Its psoriasis awareness week and thought it would be timely to share my journey with the skin condition. I know psoriasis can bring anguish, stress and often depressive thoughts. My psoriasis journey has not been an easy one and often has had its emotional and depressing times. My journey started when I was 13 after my BCG injection. The psoriasis started on my hairline and soon spread over my scalp. That’s when the jokes at school about my dandruff started. Continue reading

Confront your worries to help Insomnia

What is insomnia?

Do you toss and turn at night? Do you have a worry that stops you sleeping? Do istock_mensleepingyou have anxiety about an event the next day that stops you from sleeping? Does that sound familiar to you? Most of us, at some time in our lives, will have problems with insomina. Lack of sleep can slowly become a problem if it happens night after night.

We need our sleep. It is important for both physical and psychological reasons and sleep deprivation can lead to fatigue, slower reaction times, irritability and other mood problems, and poor concentration. These in turn can affect our work, our relationships and the quality of lives.

Worry and Anxiety are the main causes of lack of sleep

Worry is the common and important factor in insomnia. When people worry about things they tend mentally to go over things repeatedly, without coming up with a solution to the problem. This leads to an increase in mental arousal which then prevents sleep. This can create a vicious circle where worry leads to insomnia, which creates more worry about the effects of sleeplessness, which leads to more sleep disturbance.

The second common factor that leads to insomnia is stress. Stressful life events such as divorce, death of a spouse or work problems can often trigger which may persist beyond adjustment to the event itself.

So what can you do?

If you are suffering from stress or anxiety then it is recommended that you identify and examine the problem that is triggering your lack of sleep, for example the stress at work. Talking therapy can give you time and space to talk through the issue and help you find a way of moving forward.

In the meantime, the following list gives you helpful tips to help you have a good night’s sleep.

  • Do not eat after 6pm
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening
  • Go to bed and wake up at a set time each evening and morning
  • Avoid watching TV. or using computers/ipads the last hour before going to bed
  • Take a warm bath an hour before you go to bed
  • Ensure you have 30 minutes exercise every day

Worry List and time

One of the most useful tips that clients find useful is ‘worry list’. I encourage clients to either write of list of all their worries in the evening. It is then important to try and forget them for the evening. You leave them behind you when you go to bed. Trying to forget your worries is useful as it breaks the habit of dwelling on your worries at the present time.

Alternatively my clients find useful to have a ‘worry time’. They set a time for each day which gives them 20 minutes to have their worry time (it must not be after 5pm as it can disturb your sleep). During this time you are allowed to worry about whatever’s on your mind. The rest of the day is hopefully a worry-free zone.

In addition to your worry time you could try to challenge your worried thoughts using cognitive behavioural practice or practice mindfulness.

Try and have a worry time. Does it work for you?


First Steps to Coping with Stress

first steps to coping with stressToday many of the pressure of life demands can cause stress, particularly work, relationships and money problems. Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure which in turn can lead you feeling you are unable to cope. We all have different ways of reacting to stress. When you feel stressed, it can get in the way of sorting out these demands, or can even affect everything you do. Common signs of stress include sleeping problems, loss or increase of appetite and difficulty concentrating.

The Supposedly Helpful Crutch

People deal with stress by often drinking more, smoking more, acting unreasonably and losing their temper.  However, drowning your frustration in alcohol, eating junk foods, self-medicating with drugs such as nicotine is not the answer. If anything they add to your problem. It is important to take positive action when faced with stress as, if experienced over a period of time; it can seriously impair your mental and physical health. You need to find coping strategies than can really help you reduce this effects of any stress in your life.

Six Stress Coping Strategies for Individuals

The following list is first steps to take that can really help you reduce the stress in your life.

  1. Be aware of your own warning signs of feeling run down. This maybe could be a sudden feeling of anxiety, extreme tiredness, feeling very tearful, catching every cough and cold.
  2. Review what is really causing you negative stress for you? You could be surprised! Think about what action you could perhaps take to change things. How much of your negative stress by you? For example, are you expectations of yourself and others realistic?
  3. Instead of using alcohol, not eating properly and smoking more as a crutch try eating a balanced diet, cut out sugar, eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, drink plenty of water and keep caffeine to the minimum.
  4. Do not feel guilty about including a period of relaxation every day. We all need to turn off from time to time. Do something you enjoy and fits into your life. This could, for example, be reading, listening to music, doing yoga or meditating, enjoying a warm bath. It does not have to take long or be considered time wasting. It is a vital part of life.
  5. Make sure exercise is part of your life. Exercise which is suitable for you. If you have any doubts as to the correct sort for you ask your Doctor. 
  6. Do you often find yourself saying ‘yes’ when in fact you mean ‘no’? Are you always late for things? Learn how to be more assertive and manage your time properly. Many of us waste so much time, often making excuses for things we have not done

There are times when we all need the help and confidential support of other people. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. It can be so useful.

Further reading

Davis, M (2012) The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook.