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The big stress out
Many of us at one point or another are likely to feel a bit of stress. In small amounts it can actually be a healthy thing that gets us running to schedule, not missing appointments, studying hard for exams, and so on. It’s only when we encounter too much stress that it can become a problem. Symptoms can include upset stomach, broken sleep, and anxiety.

While stress isn’t seen as a direct cause of more serious physical health conditions such as heart disease or raised blood pressure, experts believe that some of the coping mechanisms people resort to could increase their risk. Things like overeating, or drinking alcohol in an attempt to counteract stress could lead to health problems.

The recent news that hospital admissions for stress are up brings with it a renewed need for education on how to manage stress – not just for individuals but from in a workplace management context as well.

The rise, seven percent up on last year, is significant enough on its own. But when compared with the figures for 2007-8, they are unignorable in scale – a full 47% up on that year. It’s little wonder, then, that many are identifying the cause as being the economic downturn.

Combatting Stress
In the workplace there are of course a number of factors that contribute to stress. Employees can work towards being stress free by managing some of these factors themselves, however for others there may need to be input from management. Things like prioritising workload can be done by individuals, but some organisations will also provide training in this to show people some techniques for helping them manage workloads. There are also charities who provide mental health training for line managers so they can help to identify when members of staff may be anxious or depressed.

The mental Health charity MIND describes the scale of mental health issues at work as ‘the elephant in the room’, and estimate that at any one time, 1 in 6 workers in the UK is experiencing depression, anxiety or stress.

In terms of individual stress busting techniques, there’s a wide range of things you can do such as being active and getting exercise, making sure you get enough sleep, and most  importantly – identifying what the stress triggers are and developing responses that don’t involve becoming stressed.

About the author: Jen Jones writes on a number of health topics including business health care and workplace wellbeing.