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Stress in the Workplace

In the UK it is estimated that work-related stress is responsible for six million days of sick leave a year, with stress being linked to many minor and major illnesses.

For most people, work is a significant and meaningful feature of life with the majority of us spending around 25% of our adult lives working. While work can provide us with structure, purpose, satisfaction, self-esteem and spending power, the workplace can also be a setting of stress and worry

What is work-related stress?
Everyone is under some pressure in the workplace. Some external pressures can be a positive factor, helping us to be more productive. Some people actually thrive under short-term added pressure, and our bodies are designed to meet these short-term demands. Hormones including adrenaline are released to prepare us for a "fight or flight" response to demanding situations. However, excessive and prolonged stress can take its toll, producing a range of physical and emotional health problems which have come to be grouped as "work-related stress".

There is no single cause of work-related stress. While stress can be triggered by sudden, unexpected pressures, it is often the result of a combination of stressful factors which accumulate over time. Some people can become so used to the symptoms of excessive stress that it goes unnoticed to their detriment. Most work-related stress is related to management of work, relationships at work, organisational set-up and whether you feel you have power and control in your work.

The experience of stress is different for every person. Some people are affected more than others, so what is stressful for one person may not be stressful for another. It can depend on your personality type and on how you have learned to respond to pressure.

Why stress occurs
Physical symptoms
How to reduce stress

There are lots of stress management techniques, and various websites devoted to these problems (such as www.isma.org.uk ).

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