The definition of stress and why is it a problem?

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A definition of stress is “The negative effects of life pressure and events” or another definition quoted by the HSE is “Work-related stress develops because a person is unable to cope with the demands being placed on them”.

Stress is linked with depression and anxiety, and you may not realise you are suffering from it. When you link these three together, they were linked with about 35-40% of work-related illnesses and this level has stayed at this level for many years until the effects of the pandemic put more pressure on employees and businesses. In 2019/20 stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 51% of all work-related ill health cases and 55% of all working days lost due to work-related ill health. This makes it a big problem for employers and employees.

There are millions of working days lost due to stress every year costing employees, companies and the economy a lot of money every year.

Stress can affect people of any job type and work sector so it can affect you in your job. It may not just be your work that is causing the stress, it may be your personal life or relationship issues. These will cause you to become distracted and unable to cope with your work pressures.

Stress can lead to different medical conditions like headaches to relationship problems at home. Stress can lead to other forms of mental ill-health and can lead to serious medical concerns if not treated.

Stress in the workplace can be caused by many things and some examples include workloads, no breaks, long hours, weekend work, poor training, manager pressures or expectations and finally from other colleagues.

Stress is not all bad, we can cope and often thrive on stress, but this is for short spells of time and not for long periods of time over weeks and months. There is a limit to everyone’s ability to cope well with stress and different people have different ways of dealing with it. People who cannot deal with it or try to ignore it are the ones who get into trouble.

Some things that can be caused by stress include, headaches, anxiety, being irritable, skin problems, eating disorders and depression.

If stress is not managed and reduced the employee can become sick and unhappy in their work and the employer will have trouble keeping staff, poor productivity and increased costs