Work related stress is an increasingly common issue in today’s busy society. Health and Safety Executive figures for 2013/2014 indicate that ‘Stress, depression or anxiety and musculoskeletal disorders accounted for the majority of days lost due to work-related ill health.’
Many employees have work targets to meet, colleagues to compete with, promotions to attain as well as the fear of losing their job. The self employed face their fair share of stressors too. Outside of the work arena, there may be pressures to earn more, provide for a family, mortgages/rents to pay. All of the above can contribute to burn out and potential job loss if the ability to work is compromised by ill health.
That’s all before we delve into the world of our inner-self, where we may strive for perfection, set our goals too high, be harshly critical of ourselves and vie for the approval of others. How do we redress the work-life balance and restore a more comfortable sense of inner peace and a standard of living that isn’t necessarily all about finances and material possessions (although both are clearly important) but that can be about our own sense of well-being and contentment as well? Somewhere along the way, when the balance is skewed the ability to enjoy life is lost and it can feel like being on a perpetual hamster wheel with no way of slowing down or pausing and very little benefit to ourselves for all the hours that are being invested in work. How do we stand still for even a moment in an ever moving world?
There are some aspects of the working arena that are beyond the individual’s domain of control such as the economy, redundancies, capped pay and a personality clash with the boss. However, it is possible to make small but meaningful changes to how we respond to certain situations, manage our stress, how we look after ourselves and the boundaries that we are comfortable living and working within.
The counselling process offers the space to explore what is driving you, what causes you stress and why and then what can be let go of. The process of addressing the harsh and critical internal dialogue that fuels insecurities can take place in a supportive and non-judgmental environment. Recognising the part that we may play in contributing to our stresses gives us back a degree of control in what can feel like a very out of control siruation to be in. This enhances well-being and even if working conditions do not change, how we respond to them can. Coping strategies can be explored and put in place to use as tools when stress is present.
A good question to start with is “Can I do anything to change this situation?” If the answer is no, we can learn to accept that some things are beyond our control and move past them. If the answer is yes, we can put plans in place to make the necessary changes or to respond differently to certain scenarios once we are clearer about the sources of our stress.
Debbie Kelly MSc is an experienced counsellor working in Basingstoke in North Hampshire. She sees clients experiencing life challenges concerning anxiety, depression, work stress, grief and bereavement, relationship difficulties and miscarriage/pregnancy loss.
Contact Debbie on 07590 572866 or email to arrange a free 30 minute introductory session.