Whether you love your job or you hate it, we can all agree on one thing - work can be stressful. From the entrepreneur running the business, down to the newest employee working as part of their team, everyone experiences some form of stress as a result of their work. Just ask the next person you meet, and see what they say!
But while it's always been there, over the last 3 years, workplace stress has become an increasingly bigger problem, and during 2020 it hit record high levels. Around 828,000 people in the UK struggle with some form of workplace stress or anxiety, no matter what industry they work in or their job type. And with around 17.9 million working days lost due to work related stress last year, it's never been more important for us to understand what causes workplace stress, and take action to reduce it.
Before we go on, it's important to remember that stress is a perfectly normal and even healthy thing. It's your body's natural response to the demands of daily life, and your brain releases a cocktail of hormones (adrenaline, cortisol and noradrenaline) in order to help you deal with that. Back in the days of cavemen, these hormones helped them escape from a perusing animal, or to sense danger in an unfamiliar situation. In a way, stress is what allowed us to survive as a species, and it's one of the reasons we sit at the top of the food chain now. The only difference is, the modern stressors we face are a bit different to those our ancestors experienced. So, while they got stressed over saber toothed cats and other predators, our stress comes from looming deadlines, pressure to meet targets, and having to have unpleasant conversations with employees.
Sadly, the workplace stress is one of the biggest causes of modern stress, and because we spend over 70% of our time at work, that can have a knock-on effect on our general mental and physical health. For example, of those who experience workplace stress, 55% will develop anxiety, 43% will experience significant sleep disruption, and 33% will turn to comfort eating. All of these things can have a significant impact on physical health, concentration, productivity, mood and mental health. Long term,stress can disrupt synapse regulation kill brain cells and even reduce the size of the brain, which leads to struggles with memory and learning, as well as being more susceptible to stress in the future. All of which is bad news for the company!
The Reality of Workplace Stress
Managing stress in the workplace is important for both your team and your business. Employers have a duty of care to look after the mental health of their employees, but many miss workplace stress off the list of things they need to worry about, and suffer the consequences later. Even if the person suffering those consequences is yourself! 79% of people admit to being stressed at work, with the biggest cause of stress being workload.
But workplace stress is much more than just having a lot on your plate. And if it's not handled quickly and effectively, it can lead to all sorts of problems for everyone in the business - from the business owner down. The HSE describes workplace stress as: 'The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demands placed on them.' So, whilst a certain amount of pressure can be helpful - it can be a great motivator and improve productivity - too much can be overwhelming and lead to stress.
A few other things can cause stress within any workplace include:
- Office politics.
- Demanding schedules.
- Heavy workload.
- Other team members under preforming.
- Long working hours.
- Uncertainty about job roles or future.
- No support structure.
- Interpersonal relationship problems - including bullying, communication issues and ongoing personality differences.
- No clear understanding of the role or responsibilities.
- Change within the business - and lack of communication about it.
- Lack of communication in general.
And that was before we had a global pandemic, which has sent both general and workplace stress levels skyrocketing. Particularly for those working in corporates and close teams, one of the biggest issues has been working from home. While the measure has kept everyone safe, the lack of interaction within teams and the uncertainty of how the pandemic will impact their work has caused a slew of mental health issues, including stress. And because it’s been over a year now, lack of discipline has started to creep in, lowering morale and productivity overall.
Work Stress for Entrepreneurs
For entrepreneurs and business owners, I’m afraid the prospect is even bleaker. As the one at the top of the food chain, the stress levels are always going to be a little higher, but the impact it can have on your business is going to be much bigger too. So, as well as the issues listed above, entrepreneurs and business owners often struggle with some more unique types of workplace stress, including:
Confidence: Limiting beliefs affect their goal setting & achieving, struggles with imposter syndrome, social anxiety and suffering relationships all cause sales to drop.
Procrastination: Motivation issues, difficulty getting things started, no sense of organisation and a struggle to keep themselves disciplined.
Fear: Fears of failure, holding themselves back, sabotaging their own efforts, and uncertainty about the future.
Sleep: Lack of sleep means they wake up in a low mood, angry, unable to concentrate and with a lack of energy.
As the business owner, it’s important you stay on top of your stress levels if you want to achieve you goals, and keep your employees happy. And a big part of that is understanding what causes workplace stress, what some of the warning signs are, and learning what you can do to manage it all.
As with almost every form of mental illness, the warning signs for stress are often there for a long time before you reach breaking point, and sometimes you might not even realise that they’re warning signs at all. Basic warning signs of workplace stress include:
- Frequent headaches & migraines
- Chest pains
- Increased blood pressure
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Stomach upsets
- Anxiety and excess worry
- Lack of focus
- Feelings of overwhelm
- Poor judgement
- Negative outlook
- Food cravings
- Increased alcohol or drug intake
- Withdrawing from social activities and people
- Taking more risks
- Relationship problems
Of course, all of these can be signs of other things as well, but stress is often the biggest factor. The modern world operates at a much higher base level of stress than it used to, so many of us have forgotten that these things are actually trying to warn us that something’s wrong!
Can Hypnotherapy Help With Workplace Stress
The good news is, solution focused hypnotherapy can be an incredibly effective tool to manage workplace stress. By using the tools and techniques of cognitive therapy alongside hypnotherapy, which makes your brain more receptive to change, you can find lasting relief from stress, and learn to respond to stress triggers more constructively. Focusing and visualising your preferred future will help your subconscious mind create a positive template to work with, while techniques to help manage stress in the moment can break the cycle and support you in overcoming it. Because it’s more of a holistic approach to stress management, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can give you the tools you need to move forward in a productive way, and keep stress at bay.
If you'd like help managing your stress levels at work, or in general, please get in touch for a free, confidential chat.