Stress, Motivation and Work Related Difficulties

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Stress, Motivation & Work Related Difficulties

Every organisation in Britain is affected by mental distress and ill health in the workforce.

  • At any one time one worker in six will be experiencing depression, anxiety or problems relating to stress.
  • It is estimated that 40% of all sickness absence is due to mental ill health costing UK businesses 26 billion each year

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines stress as “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on them”.

The word ‘stress’ is usually used to describe the feelings that people experience when the demands made on them are greater than their ability to cope. At such times people can often feel overloaded, under immense pressure, very tense and emotional. Stress affects everyone, young and old and is a completely normal reaction that all human beings will experience from time to time when faced with situations that they feel under pressure in.

Work-related stress is the result of a conflict between the role and needs of an individual employee and the demands of the workplace. Physiologically we are programmed to deal with threatening situations by producing more adrenaline which increases heart-rate and puts our bodies into a state of arousal – ‘the fight or flight’ reaction. This response is only intended to be short-term. The effect of excessive pressure is to keep the body constantly in such a state, which leads to the harmful signs and symptoms (as outlined below).

Research has shown that feeling stressed at work is not confined to particular occupations or levels within organisations. Different individuals may react differently to stress and the same person may react differently to stress at different times.

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  • poor working conditions, such as noise or bad lighting
  • long working hours
  • relationship problems with colleagues
  • having too much or too little to do
  • poor job performance feedback
  • lack of control in the working environment
  • lack of praise, validation or recognition from superiors

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  • bullying in the workplace
  • being under pressure to meet deadlines
  • being in the wrong job for your skills, abilities and expectations
  • job uncertainty/insecurity
  • lack of authority to make decisions
  • company mergers/takeovers

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Sometimes there is no single cause of work-related stress. It can be caused by a build-up of small things over time.

Stress can cause psychological, emotional, physical and behavioural problems. Everyone reacts to stress in different ways depending on their personality and how they respond to pressure, thus symptoms may vary. There are a number of factors that may cause work-related stress.

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Some common psychological symptoms include:

  • feeling that you can’t cope
  • being unable to concentrate
  • lacking confidence
  • a loss of motivation and commitment
  • disappointment with yourself

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Some common emotional symptoms include:

  • negative or depressive feelings
  • increased emotional reactions (eg tearful)
  • irritability or having a short temper
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • mood swings

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Some common physical symptoms include:

  • diarrhoea or constipation
  • indigestion
  • headaches
  • weight change
  • chest, joint or back pains

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If you are suffering with work-related stress, you may find that you often rush to get things done; try to be in too many places at once; don’t take breaks or miss lunch; overwork and take work home; don’t have enough time for exercise or relaxation; spend less time with your family; don’t take your full holiday entitlement; feel unable to delegate and experience an increased unwillingness to co-operate or accept advice.

Whilst the employer cannot be held directly responsible for pressures within your personal life , these factors play an integral part in work performance. Work-stresses go home with the worker. Home-stresses come to work with the worker – grieving, divorce, family upset, moving home, serious family illnesses, pregnancy, miscarriage and other very personal factors all affect a person’s ability to perform to expectation.

How Talking to Siobhan Can Help

Cognitive behavioural techniques are some of the most effective ways to reduce stress. Working together, some of the strategies Siobhan will employ include identifying the sources of stress, restructuring priorities, changing one’s response to stress, and finding appropriate methods for you to manage and reduce your stress.


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