feature The Statistics The main work factors cited by respondents as causing work related stress, depression or anxiety were workload pressures, including tight deadlines and too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support. The total number of working days lost due to this condition in 2014/15 was 9.9 million days. This equated to an average of 23 days lost per case. In 2014/15 stress accounted for 35% of all work related ill health cases and 43% of all working days lost due to ill health. The main reasons for stress at work? Stress affects us all, and no more so than in the workplace. The chemicals, adrenaline and hormones which build up in our systems in response to the pressures of everyday life have BUSINESS WOMEN SCOTLAND 25 no way to dissipate in our modern lives, and the effects of this can be serious enough to cause significant physical and psychological damage. Do you know the main reasons for stress at work? There are increasing redundancies taking place in our current climate for one thing. Inevitably this leads to a lot of worries arising where people might wonder how they’ll get by or provide for their families. Relationship conflicts between colleagues, a build up of accidents caused by a worker and problems linked with the overall upkeep of the organisation’s image could also contribute to elevated stress levels. Depression and issues from work are one of the main causes of stress reported by patients in the doctor’s surgery. How to Identify Stress Stress is an adverse reaction(s) experienced to too much (or too little) pressure. n What to look for These are some of the symptoms that are indicators of too much pressure that can come from yourself, work, home, any combination of, or maybe even all three. PSYCHOLOGICAL SIGNS • Inability to concentrate or make simple decisions • Memory lapses • Becoming rather vague • Easily distracted • Less intuitive & creative • Worrying • Negative thinking • Depression & anxiety EMOTIONAL SIGNS • Tearful • Irritable • Mood swings • Extra sensitive to criticism • Defensive • Feeling out of control • Lack of motivation • Angry • Frustrated • Lack of confidence • Lack of self-esteem PHYSICAL SIGNS • Aches/pains & muscle tension/grinding teeth • Frequent colds/infections • Allergies/rashes/skin irritations • Constipation/diarrhoea/ IBS • Weight loss or gain • Indigestion/heartburn/ulcers • Hyperventilating/lump in the throat/pins & needles • Dizziness/palpitations • Panic attacks/nausea • Physical tiredness • Menstrual changes/loss of libido/sexual problems • Heart problems/high blood pressure BEHAVIOURAL SIGNS • No time for relaxation or pleasurable activities • Prone to accidents, forgetfulness • Increased reliance on alcohol, smoking, caffeine, recreational or illegal drugs • Becoming a workaholic • Poor time management and/or poor standards of work • Absenteeism • Self neglect/change in appearance • Social withdrawal • Relationship problems • Insomnia or waking tired • Reckless • Aggressive/anger outbursts • Nervous • Uncharacteristically lying The symptoms that affect you will often accumulate until you are forced to take notice of them. Don’t rationalise the symptoms away, if you are not sure – ask your GP, speak to your direct line manager or someone in HR, but don’t ignore how you are feeling, tackle the situation before it spirals out of control.