Sunday, 17 March 2013

Viking Stress at Work Study

Stress.  The dreaded ‘s’ word.  Many of us feel this at some point in our work day or week.  This combined with juggling family and other social commitments can really take its toll on busy working Moms and Dads.

Two studies have recently been conducted by small business supplies company Viking to try and see exactly how stressed we all are and what (who?!) is at the route of it.  The first study was a survey in which 2,000 office workers across the UK noted down their stress levels and what  they thought caused it.  The other group were a group of 200 volunteers who took part in a ‘stress thermometer’ test where their body temperatures were taken over a five day period.  The findings have been illustrated in an infographic shown at the end of this post.

What came out of the ‘stress thermometer’ test was that 41% of the volunteers recorded stress temperatures of 18C to 24C which shows levels ranging from ‘highly stressed’ to ‘anxiety’.  That’s rather a lot of stressed people in any environment to be honest!  At least they were less stressed on a Wednesday with only 32% feeling strain and (un) surprisingly, only 11% recording feeling stressed on a Friday.  More than half of the individuals found the beginning and end of Monday the most stressful times of day.  It makes you wonder why some people pull a ‘sickie’ on a Monday?!

Almost a fifth of people live in fear of losing their jobs with everything that is happening in the current economic climate and a quarter generally feeling stressed each and every single day as a result of this.  Having to hold onto a job for dear life also gives people the urge to bite off more than they can chew with nearly two thirds of people blaming stress on their current workloads.  Most of these people work unpaid overtime to cope with the workload.  Stress + unpaid stress in order to do more work to be less stressed = a recipe for disaster!

This is all having a negative effect on just under half of the individual’s health with many people becoming stressed as a result of feeling that colleagues are not pulling their weight or are simply incompetent.  This also has a negative effect on general physical wellbeing as people ‘stress eat’ at night (the majority of them woman…I know that feeling!).  I however, prefer a glass of red, but even that needs to be had in moderation.

Thank goodness there seem to be more considerate bosses out there than irritating co-workers with a quarter of people saying that their boss, with their inconsiderate attitudes, stressed them out.   It's still quite a large percentage and maybe one that people in senior positions should look at rectifying and quickly.

Viking’s stress expert, Neil Shah, who conducted the secret tests with the volunteer office workers, said: “This research shows that many people in the UK today are working under some dangerous levels of stress – they may not even be aware of how stressed they are. Tension and stress can manifest themselves in many different ways, but can be linked to long term health problems such as headaches, heart problems and depression. From a business point of view a stress free worker is a more productive, proactive and valuable one. Ensuring really simple things like people taking a lunch break or doing exercises in the office can make a huge difference.”

I personally like to cope with stress by spending time with my daughter and husband, doing things that I enjoy such as reading, blogging (when my writer's block is disabled), running and enjoying the company of good friends.

Taking regular breaks in my day is absolutely vital.  Once office cabin fever sets in, it can make you into all sorts of crazy.  I sometimes get the urge to laugh uncontrollably or my legs begin to twitch and my eyes go squint and I can’t see the screen.  I can only imagine that it must be a rather bizarre sight if not somewhat scary.

Having a bit of a laugh or giggle at work really does help to lighten the mood and actually reduces stress levels.  It brings people closer together so who knows, maybe your colleagues may be slightly happier to help you with your workload if they feel happier with you and the general office environment?  Some companies even allow pets in the office as contact with animals is shown to reduce stress.  Maybe one to put into the staff room suggestion box?

I took Viking's quick and rather fun stress quiz which basically confirms that I'm slap bang in the middle of being stress free one day and a bit less on others, which I think is pretty normal.  Visit the Viking site for further information on stress and how to combat it.  


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