What is stress?
Without stress, humankind would not have survived. Cavemen and women needed stress to alert them to possible danger.
Stress is a physical response. When the body is under attack it switches to fight or flight mode. This causes a mixture of hormones and chemicals to be released, preparing the body for physical action. This causes several reactions, including blood being diverted to muscles and shutting down unnecessary bodily functions, such as digestion.
In other words, we gain a rush of energy, preparing us to either fight the danger or run from it. The heart pounds, breathing quickens and we focus our immediate attention on the situation.
In the modern world, we may no longer be pursued by predators like our cave-dwelling ancestors but there are still plenty of times when a stressful situation needs dealing with, such as a pedestrian stepping out in front of your car.
The challenge with stress is when our body goes into stress at inappropriate times. When blood surges to our muscles preparing for fight or flight, brain function is minimised, leading to the inability to ‘think straight’.
This hinders us at work and at home. If we stay in this stressed state for long periods, it will eventually be detrimental to our health. And this is when stress turns bad.
What causes stress?
Triggers differ from one person to another, although there are commonalities. Many people name money – usually lack of – as the main source of stress in their lives, followed by worries over health and relationships.
For many people, stress is linked closely with work, with the feeling of being overloaded and overburdened as being the main source of their stress.
How many people suffer from stress?
It is difficult to get a complete and accurate picture of how many people in the UK suffer from long-term, negative stress.
This is because there is still a stigma attached to stress. At one time, it was commonplace that anyone seen to be suffering from stress was perceived as weak. Slowly, attitudes are changing but many employees are still not ‘admitting’ to their employers when they take time off due to stress, telling them that it was a physical illness instead.
Surveys and research findings however, all point to long term stress as having a significant impact. 1 in 4 people admit to feeling stressed, with a quarter of those surveyed admitting that they had been feeling this way for a year or more.
What effects does stress have on your health?
Long-term, negative stress can impact on your health in many ways;
- Upset stomach
- Raised blood pressure, sometimes to dangerous levels
- Chest pains
- Trouble sleeping
What is the impact of stress on personal and work life?
Stress doesn’t only affect someone physically and emotionally – it affects personal relationships too.
Many people who are stressed present a negative attitude. They can be irritable which places relationships under stress. Many people take time off work, unable to face another day of stress at work.
How does stress affect business?
For employers, stress is a hidden issue and one that they are concerned to deal with. This includes ensuring that employees have opportunities to discuss issues that may be causing them concern or stress at work.
Stress is the cause of millions of lost working days every year which has a detrimental effect on a business. Many employers are keen to take steps to reduce the impact of stress on their staff and thus their business.
What are the techniques to relieve stress?
There are many techniques that you can use to release stress at work and at home. As stress is a very personal issue, the methods and techniques that work for one person, may not work for another.
However, experts agree that the first step is identify what stress is that person, and to identify the cause or triggers to a stress reaction.
The ‘Managing Stress Programme’ from NCC Home Learning is for those students who wish to understand the principles of stress management and how to include these at work, or any situation that causes stress.
Like all our courses, this can be studied from home or at work, giving you the freedom to complete your studies in your own time and at your own pace.