On a day when the snow hit Manchester, we decided to write an article about stress. It seemed appropriate as all staff came in, covered in snow and very stressed out. People were late, traffic was bad, crashes were happening and everyone was nervous about getting home.
We picked up our notepad and asked – What really stresses you out?
As you can imagine, SNOW was the reoccurring theme
No, but seriously – we work in the most relaxing place in Manchester. Should we be relaxed, happy and stress-free? Perhaps. Ideally, everyone should… but this is absolutely not the case. With over 105 million working days being lost every year due to stress (Bupa, 2011) it’s hard to ignore the problem. In addition, as stress can cause a lack of sleep, loss of appetite, headaches, anxiety and low self esteem to name a few, it is seriously damaging to our health.
What causes stress?
It’s not always easy to pin down either, stress affects everybody in different ways, and it doesn’t matter what your job, lifestyle, age… stress will find its way into your life. From moving house to the printer not working or UBER cancelling your trip when it’s snowing, stress inducing things can come in all shapes and sizes.
Our Director James said that as a manager of a business, you feel stress in different ways. James may not be worried about his career development, but he is worried about his company making enough to pay the staff and running a business that prioritises them. “There is stress in everybody’s life. Being in a position of responsibility means you have to take care of others, it gives you additional worries to the usual life stresses of family, work etc.”.
One of our therapists Matt seconded this – “I purposefully chose to not pursue senior roles as I just don’t want the added stress that comes with the responsibility you’re given, it’s not worth it!”. Matt explained that choosing not to have a stress-inducing job was more important than having more money – “I worry about money like anyone does, but I’m not always struggling. I’m less stressed about this than I would be if I had a different job”.
The leading mental health charity Mind can be seen to support the claims above by putting ‘responsibility’ as one of the main causes of stress. This is seen alongside things such as; being out of control of aspects of your life and being under pressure. They also noted that whilst lots of little things building up can lead to stress, big life events and changes significantly affect our stress levels.
Our manager Steph explained – “The little things actually stress me more than the big things. I know I can’t do anything about the big things, but organising people’s rotas and the weather – they stress me out”. This is in contrast to our Senior Host Sue, who explained that little things don’t bother her but she worries about bigger things such as work, family and health – “I get stressed about the bigger picture. I worry about genuine issues which could get worse and become serious”.
Another member of staff explained she was buying a new house and found this stressful, whilst others claimed that money, work and even playing poker cause them stress! Most of these are top of the list according to Mind, alongside life aspects which range from organising family holidays, problems with neighbours, starting a new job, getting married and exams to losing a job, being in poverty, getting divorced and bereavement.
What about work?
Work related stress is possibly the biggest cause, The American Institute Of Stress reported that 46% is caused by heavy workload, with the two other main factors being personal issues with colleagues (28%) and balancing work and a social life (20%). Not only is this not good for employees, it’s not good for business either with the annual cost for time-off due to stress estimated at £13billion (Simply Health 2011 Absence Management Report).
This is unsurprising as most of us spend the majority of our waking hours in work. By its very nature, a work place is an easy breeding ground for causing stress. Whether you work in an office or a shop, you’re often surrounded with different personalities, given different tasks, under at the very least – a bit of pressure and unfortunately we can’t just up and leave!
Is there hope?
Yes, of course there is! In recent years, mental health has become more widely recognised as something to monitor and care for. Charities like Mind and campaign groups such as Time To Change have worked to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues, help people to recognise their symptoms and act to improve their wellbeing. Speaking of which, wellbeing is now a huge buzzword – particularly online and platforms such as Pinterest are filled with tips and tricks to reduce your stress and improve your happiness.
In addition, along with growth of support services and a change in attitude, work places are getting on board! Apparently 72% of UK businesses are using individual leadership training courses designed to support their employees mental health.
So, it looks like we can all take a deep breath in annnnd… release. Luckily, although there are many things that can stress us out, people are becoming more knowledgeable about the symptoms of stress and how to deal with it. There are support services and resources available and with the stigma slowly fading away, hopefully it will become easier for us all to talk about it.
For more information on how stress is caused and how you can fix it, click here.
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