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Why so stressed, Sir?

Teachers and Healthcare professionals – why are they so stressed?

As I embark on providing a service of workplace massage treatments I thought it would be pertinent to look at the current state of affairs in terms of the facts and figures relating to work related stress. My starting point was the Health and Safety Executive’s ‘Work related Stress, Anxiety and Depression Statistics in Great Britain 2015’ (the full report can be found here http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress/stress.pdf). Whilst the report itself is quite dry it confirmed to me that the current drive for employers to consider workplace well-being (which is something that many consider to be nothing more than a fad or buzz-word) along with the mental health of employees is well placed.

In 2014/15 work related stress accounted for 35% of work related ill health issues and 43% of working days lost in the UK. Clearly, as a headline figure from the report this is going to make business owners stop and think. Almost half of lost days are due to work related stress. Not duvet days, not bugs and viruses, not post-op recovery, but work related stress.

The said business owners (perhaps you are one of them yourself) might reasonably question where this data comes from. My employee says he’s stressed because of work but I think he just fancied a long weekend. The HSE use two sources to compile their results. Yes, ‘The Labour Force Survey’ does provide information regarding self reported incidences of workplace stress, anxiety and depression (to be referred to as ‘stress’ from now on) but the HSE also uses data on work-related stress provided by The Health and Occupation Research network for General Practitioners (THOR-GP). This form of sourcing data asks reporting General Practitioners to determine whether the new cases of mental ill health that they are presented with are work related, and if so, what aspect of the patients working environment caused this disorder.

So, the headline figures are there to see and I could extract all sorts of data regarding age, gender, occupational category, company size from the report to delve still deeper into this. However, I’m not a numbers kind of person. Being a senior school languages teacher by profession originally and now taking my first steps into the holistic world, I’m definitely a words and people kind of person and numbers don’t often excite me!

It probably comes as no surprise to many of you that, according to the report

‘stress is more prevalent in public service industries, such as education; health and social care; and public administration and defence. By occupation, jobs that are common across public service industries … show higher levels of stress as compared to all jobs’.

This made me think and I viewed it in the following way: according to the report the employees whose jobs cause them to demonstrate the highest levels of workplace stress are those that have a huge amount of quite intimate interpersonal contact day to day and carry other people’s stress and anxiety with them, sometimes on a long-term basis.

Take education; aside from the seemingly constant change to the educational framework of the UK as a result of political game-play, teachers and educators at all levels carry with them the demands of dealing with the worry, stress and anxiety of their pupils and students (that’s a whole other topic for a blog post!) the expectations of parents and the demands of senior managers who have to get the numbers right for the league tables rather than allow teachers to focus on developing the ‘child as a whole’. In the health sector, our doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists, surgery staff, health visitors, health care assistants and others, carry the weight and, at times, emotional backlash of patients’ health concerns and worries, along with those of well meaning or bereaved family members and friends and the stresses and strains of working in the NHS which, as we all know, is currently under crippling pressure.

Yes, teachers and health care professionals are trained in how to deal with challenging situations. However, to my mind, it is no wonder that the professions highlighted by the report (including but not limited to the education and health sectors) are the most stressed, by the very nature of the people they work with, for and alongside in their daily working lives.

You may not work in health or education, in fact you may be involved in a different sector altogether that brings a whole different host of issues relating to workplace stress and anxiety, but there is one key factor that I believe you should consider, whether you are an employee or an employer in any place of work. Do you allow yourself and / or your employees time to switch off from the emotional and mental demands of working with and for others? Balanced people are those that are best placed to bring back equilibrium to other peoples’ lives.

If you’d like to discuss ways in which Espalda Massage Therapy can help you achieve this balance in the workplace contact me on 07885533130.

2 thoughts on “Why so stressed, Sir?

  1. Is there a difference between tension and stress.

    I feel, I think, I am, our thinkbox downloads emotions in response to an Outside to In stimulus and there are many triggers of this type in most people’s working lives.

    Outside to In stimulus results in body sending I am not happy with this feelings and what we do next is key. Its our Inside to Out response to the feeling… I feel Uh-Oh … I think… I ask myself why do I feel this way… and the question creates new neural paths from the automatic, rock logic, stimulus response pattern that tracks in the same way, and downloads the same old emotions, until you rewire.

    I am sure that massage or other forms of exercise can help the body relax but is there a deeper thinkbox process that can help reduce tensions too.

    There is an argument that says if you can manage Inside to Out responses then with the right work culture then ‘ we don’t do stress, thank you very much’ can become a corporate message.

  2. I’d view tension more as a physical issue and stress something psychological, although with physical manifestations at times. I agree, most people will face stress / anxiety triggers in day to day working life and yes, people need to consider their reaction to these triggers in order to be able to deal with them. Face the triggers, deal with them and move on. Although, can we actually give ourselves time to rationally deal with these questions and process our response logically on a day to day basis? As with everything it takes time to change habits, doesn’t it? It would be fantastic to see companies / industries / sectors declaring that their work culture leads to an environment where stress doesn’t play a role. That really would be a brilliant corporate message…. Until then though, corporate massage and the opportunity to switch off can help give people the time and opportunity to consider their inside to out response! 🙂

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