Under Pressure

Paul Gibbons - Westfield Health

Under Pressure

We’ve all experienced it – that feeling of dread as the ‘to do’ list gets longer and time ticking by at an alarming rate. It can feel as though there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. And, in today’s difficult climate when budgets are tighter than ever before, it’s easy for this feeling to become a daily occurrence.

But worrying constantly is a symptom of stress – a condition that while many of us choose to accept as a ‘normal’ part of working life, can take a major toll on your health and wellbeing.*

Stress can affect your appetite, cause you to smoke or drink more and lead to physical problems such as headaches and dizziness, breathlessness and muscle pain.

Sufferers may lose their temper more easily and find it difficult to concentrate - bad news for employers who need a productive and happy workforce now more than ever.

And long term stress can cause a range of serious health complications including depression and insomnia, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Just this year, figures released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) revealed that hospital admissions for stress had risen by seven per cent in just one year in England, soaring to 6,370 in May 2012 compared to 5,960 the year before.**

So, what can be done to help ease the pressure?

The findings of a study carried out by wellness solutions provider Vielife suggest that improving your diet could have a positive impact.***

The research found that working adults who have a poor diet are more likely to suffer from stress, low productivity and low job satisfaction. Those with good nutrition achieved a six per cent higher job satisfaction score, as well as a 15 per cent higher mood score.

Additionally, almost 40 per cent of people with a low nutrition score had high stress levels and 50 per cent more sickness absence than those with good nutrition – the equivalent of an extra 576 days off for every 1,000 people employed.****

Exercise can also play a part in alleviating stress according to Dr Cary Cooper, an occupational health expert at the University of Lancaster.*****

“To deal with stress effectively, you need to feel robust and you need to feel strong mentally. Exercise does that,” he said.

In addition to lifestyle changes, talking therapies such as counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are widely renowned for helping people suffering from stress, anxiety or depression to deal with negative thoughts and feelings and make positive changes.

Westfield Health’s Chamber Primary Health Plan, which is available to all members of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, offers employees a full confidential counselling service, which includes a 24 hour counselling and advice line, as well as up to six face to face counselling sessions or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) sessions.

The Government’s ‘No Health Without Mental Health’ strategy emphasises the importance of talking therapies such as counselling and CBT in helping treat stress, anxiety and depression.

For more information about the Chamber Plan, visit www.westfieldhealth.com/chamber or call 0845 602 1629, available 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

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