By suesmith, Nov 6 2019 11:17AM
Stress is complex and has many causes. Unlike a physical illness it isn’t obvious to other people that something is wrong. In many cases also it is not recognised by the sufferer that they have stress. Although not recognised as a clinical illness as such, it is recognised in law and by such organisations as ACAS and all companies should have a formal stress management policy.
Understanding the physical, mental and emotional symptoms of stress in yourself and being able to recognise it in others is important before resolution and healing can take place. In the work place it is important to create ‘safe’ spaces, giving staff time out, proper breaks rest areas and an opportunity to talk to confidants. Employers should provide all employees with copies of the company, ‘Stress Management Policy’, and provide adequate ‘sign -posting’ to professional services and support. Ideally the support should be external to the company as quite often employees feel it will be a ‘blot’ on their work record if they show signs of ‘weakness’ by saying they feel they cannot cope or feel stressed, so the ‘open door’ policy or in house H.R approach first may not always be a way of encouraging staff to talk or ‘open up’. Even offering stress awareness classes might not work as staff may not wish to attend simply because it might be seen as a sign of ‘weakness’ by colleagues or their manager/s. Especially in high pressure atmospheres such as a sales company. From my experience in the pharmaceutical industry, the work place stress was often created by management to help drive motivation, competitiveness and ambition among employees. That sort of stress can be good up to a point, but becomes counter productive when staff become ill. Usually stress is not the admitted ailment, often employees say they have some other illness instead such as food poisoning or migraine.
Physical illness, exams, relationship issues past trauma, debt and many other contributory factors can create ‘stress’. Managing stress in a negative way by smoking, using alcohol, gambling etc can actually create more stress or make it worse. The first step is always to recognise changes in yourself or another that seem to have a negative effect, then to find positive ways to manage the symptoms and root causes using positive methods, such as talking to a confidant, seeking counseling, or help from a therapist, taking more exercise, planning rest periods during the day or proper holiday breaks, managing lifestyle to accommodate change and if necessary taking medication from the doctor along side other talking therapies.
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