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Anxiety Sleeping Breathing Tension Relaxation Eating Causes Exercise

 Marion Tyler Associates

5 Woodside Road, Ferndown, Wimborne, Dorset, BH22 9LB
Tel: 01202 855275, Email: enquiries@mariontyler.co.uk

 

Stress Management

The HSE Definition of Stress

The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demands placed on them
( Health and Safety Executive 2000)

Why should Organisations take action to deal with stress?

There are three main reasons:

  • Ethical considerations

Good employers would wish to do as much as they reasonably can to reduce the risks of ill health caused by work.

  • Legal considerations

The law requires an employer to tackle work related stress.

“Employers have a general duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable the health of their employees at work”

(The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974)

“Must take account of the risk of stress related ill health when meeting the legal obligations”

(Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999)

  • Economic considerations

True costs are not known. However HSE estimates 6.5 million working days were lost in Britain in 1995 due to stress, depression, anxiety or a physical condition ascribed to work.

An average of 16 days off work were taken by each person suffering from the condition.

The estimated cost to employers was £370 million, whilst the cost to society was about £3.75 billion.

N.B. The 1995 figures used by the HSE in “Tackling work related Stress” are low compared with figures provided by other organisations. These conservative costs were chosen by the HSE to avoid discord.

What is Stress?

A certain amount of pressure is necessary to function well. It helps people reach their peak efficiency.

  • When a person is under pressure the stress responses can act as a spur.
     

  • The pressure to meet deadlines can increase our energy & drive.
     

  • The stress faced in competition may enhance our performance.
     

  • Responsibility for the safety and care of others improves our powers of concentration.

If these pressures become too intense, or are too prolonged, or we are "working against the grain", then work suffers, as well as the individual - causing distress.

There is much that can be done to relieve stress. Good management, good support systems and the creation of a caring culture can prevent many of the undesirable effects.

 

The Stress Responses

 

A Brief Physiology of the Stress Reaction

If a person is in a life-threatening situation, or feels (or imagines) they are in danger, a reflex action is triggered to prepare them for the emergency. This is called the "Fight or Flight" or Alarm Reaction.

The fight/flight response is the body's primary reaction to stress; the secondary responses vary with a person’s emotional state.

There are immediate physiological changes, which are brought about by the activation of the Sympathetic Nervous System.

The MIND becomes alert.

The PUPILS of the eyes dilate.

The JAW clenches tight and makes one appear more aggressive.

MUSCLES stiffen ready for action.

HAIR stands on end, (to make one appear fiercer).

The MOUTH goes dry and the DIGESTIVE SYSTEM slows down.

The SKIN sweats and this is absorbed to keep the body cool during vigorous activity.

The HEART beats faster to increase the blood supply to the vital organs and muscles. The blood pressure increases and the blood vessels dilate.

The LUNGS are stimulated to breathe faster to increase oxygen supply and expire carbon dioxide.

The LIVER releases glycogen, which is stored in the liver.

The PANCREAS releases extra insulin.

The ADRENAL GLANDS produce adrenalin, which keeps the reaction going.

The DIGESTIVE system slows down as gut mobility decreases, because blood is directed to the limbs and vital organs that are active in the fight/flight reaction.

FATTY ACIDS are also released into the bloodstream.

The NERVOUS CO-ORDINATION predominates in the SHORT-TERM response to stress, and the CHEMICAL CO-ORDINATION predominates in the LONG-TERM stress reaction.

The MUSCLES of the body are also co-ordinated to prepare the body for the emergency reaction.

 

The Stress Responses

 
Alarm Reaction
  • Adrenaline increase
  •  Raised blood pressure
  • Heart Rate Increases
  • Increased alertness
  • Reduced blood flow to inessential organs
  • Tightening of sphincter

  • Sweating


Resistance Reaction
  • Stimulates adrenal cortex
  • Produces cortisone causing salt and fluid retention
  • Raises blood pressure
  • Reduces glycogen stores
  • Noradrenalin production
  • Dilates peripheral blood vessels
  • Relaxes sphincters
  • Retains homeostasis

Secondary Stress Response


EARLY SIGNS OF STRESS AND ITS MANAGEMENT

The early signs of stress can vary considerably from individual to individual, with the most frequent signs listed overleaf. These are grouped into three distinct types:

Physical – these are physical changes to the individual’s normal body functions.

Emotional or mental – these are changes to the individual’s normal emotional or mental state. 

Behavioural – these show up as different patterns of behaviour to the normal. 

If the stress problems are not resolved, there can be long term effects, and these are also listed.

Identify Some Physical Symptoms

The following are some common SYMPTOMS of stress.  Everyone may experience some of them occasionally, without the quality of their life being affected too much. Identifying physical symptoms and their frequency will help to decide on a plan of action that may be useful to reduce the ill-effects of stress in someone’s life.
The following chart may help to indicate which PHYSICAL symptoms are experienced and how frequently.


 

PHYSICAL

Daily

Weekly

Specific Situations

Grinding Jaws

 

 

 

Tension headaches

 

 

 

Neck and shoulder pain

 

 

 

Shallow breathing

 

 

 

Diarrhoea

 

 

 

Constipation

 

 

 

Muscle tension

 

 

 

"Butterflies"

 

 

 

Back pain

 

 

 

Ulcers

 

 

 

Chest pains

 

 

 

High blood pressure

 

 

 

Itches and rashes

 

 

 

Dizziness

 

 

 

Blurred vision

 

 

 

Others

 

 

 


Identify Some Emotional Signs of Stress

These are some common SYMPTOMS of stress.  Everyone may experience some of them occasionally without the quality of their life being affected too much. Identifying emotional symptoms and their frequency will help to decide on a plan of action that may be useful to reduce the ill-effects of stress in someone’s life.

The following chart may help to indicate which PSYCHOLOGICAL or EMOTIONAL symptoms are experienced and how frequently.
 

PSYCHOLOGICAL

Daily

Weekly

Specific Situations

Low confidence

 

 

 

Self blame

 

 

 

Depression

 

 

 

Tension

 

 

 

Worry

 

 

 

Anxiety

 

 

 

Memory lapses

 

 

 

Feeling guilty

 

 

 

Anger

 

 

 

Poor Concentration

 

 

 

Moodiness

 

 

 

Impatience

 

 

 

Tearful

 

 

 

 


Identify Some Behavioural Signs of Stress

The following are common SYMPTOMS of stress.  Everyone may experience some of them occasionally, without the quality of their life being affected too much. Identifying behavioural symptoms and their frequency will help to decide on a plan of action that may be useful to reduce the ill-effects of stress in someone’s life.

The following chart may help to indicate which BEHAVIOURAL symptoms are apparent and how they may be affecting themselves and others. 

BEHAVIOURAL

Daily

Weekly

Specific Situations

Insomnia

 

 

 

Social withdrawal

 

 

 

Loss of libido

 

 

 

Poor and irregular eating habits

 

 

 

Drinking too much alcohol

 

 

 

Rushing things

 

 

 

Poor time management

 

 

 

Aggression

 

 

 

Passivity

 

 

 

Accident prone

 

 

 

Smoking too much

 

 

 

Others

 

 

 

 


 

Effects of Stress at Work    

Early Signs

Long Term Effects
 

BEHAVIOURAL

BEHAVIOURAL

  • Loss of interest in work 

  •  Reduced concentration

  • Difficulty in making decisions which used to be straightforward

  • Decrease in work performance

  • Petty theft and vandalism at work

  • Short temper

  • Heavier smoking and drinking

  • Inefficiency/incompetence

  •  Frequent absence from work

  • Addictions – alcoholism, drug dependency

  • Inability to maintain personal relationships at home and at work

  • Marital and family breakdown

  • Social isolation

PHYSICAL

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL

  • Loss of appetite

  • Sleeplessness

  • Constant tiredness

  • Headaches

  • Backache

  • Indigestion

  • Nausea

  • Sweating

  • Trembling

EMOTIONAL OR MENTAL

  • Depression

  • Irritability, anger

  • Low self-esteem

  • Apathy

  • Anxiety

 Stress may play a part in causing illness from colds to cancer and from depression to schizophrenia.  There are many debates as to the precise links between stress and particular physical or mental disorders.

One theory suggests that stress suppresses the autoimmune system, (the body's automatic defence system against infection), so that individuals become more susceptible in general to any kind of virus or infection.  Stress is thought to be a significant factor in all of the following disorders:-

  •  Nervous or mental breakdow

  • Gastric and Intestinal ulcers

  • Rheumatism

  • Allergies

  • Heart Disease

  • Skin Diseases

  • Diabetes

  • Hypertension and even Cancers

Tips for Reducing Stress in your Life 

Talk to someone you trustAccept things you cannot change

  • Avoid self medication

  • Overcome sleep deprivation

  • Do one thing at a time

  • Eat healthily

  • Take regular exercise

  • Learn to relax regularly

  • Recognise when you are tired and rest

  • Learn to yes NO when you need to

  • Take up interesting hobbies

  • Manage your time well

  • Maintain a balance in your life

Anxiety Sleeping Breathing Tension Relaxation Eating Causes Exercise