With statistics suggesting one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime and reports, such as that by not-for-profit health insurance company BHSF, stating two thirds of the UK’s working population are kept awake by stress at night, it’s important we all know how to identify and manage stress effectively.
All of us have, and will, experience stress as it’s a natural reaction to excessive pressure, which can be caused by a sense of having too much to do in very little time, a feeling of lack of control and big life events.
There are times when short-term, low-level stress can be beneficial. It helps motivate us to deal with daily challenges, meet our goals and helps us reach our optimal productivity levels, while it is also part of our survival instinct, ensuring we react quickly in dangerous situations.
So when stress starts to have an adverse effect on a person’s life and productivity, as well as physical and mental health, it becomes an issue that needs to be addressed.
But what are the signs of long-term stress and what can we do to treat it? The psychological effects can include anxiety, fatigue, insomnia and boredom, while physical symptoms can include regular, minor illness, back pain and feeling sick.
When these sort of symptoms arise, it’s important to visit your GP or other medical professional to identify the possible causes and find a solution that works for you.
There are a variety of different methods used to treat stress and other mental health issues, such as increased exercise, relaxation and medication techniques, counselling and, where necessary, medication. It’s important to take adequate time to discuss with your doctor the best treatment for you.
As stress also affects our productivity and ‘presenteeism’ – when we may be physically present but our mind is elsewhere – it’s also important to make your manager or HR representative aware of the stress you are experiencing. By doing so, your employer can identify what can be put in place to support you during this time.
Those suffering from a mental health problem often find even taking the first initial step of sharing their problem alleviates some of the pressure they are under and, in turn, the symptoms themselves.
If you would like to discuss any stress-related or mental health concerns, you can make an appointment by calling TFJ Private GP Services on 01926 436303.
Dr Peter John