Work Anxiety – Stress. Are you a slave to your work?

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I have been working with a client who has handed in her notice because she can’t cope with the workload she is being placed under. So what is her workload? She is contracted to work Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5.30pm so a 9 hour day, 45 hour week with lunch breaks (which she doesn’t take). What she is working is 8:30am to 7/8pm at work coming home eating then working till 11pm or later. She has recently worked a 16 hour day to meet a deadline. She is not alone in this, often her manager or colleagues send her emails, submit work and contact her between 9pm and 12am. She also works up to 12 hours weekends all of which is expected and unpaid as her contract states no overtime is paid. I have worked with many clients in similar situations where the work culture is like this. The fact they are coming to see a therapist due to anxiety, stress, depression is not wasted on me. Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy for depression and Hypnotherapy is very good at reducing anxiety/stress, depression, trauma and other issues but you must make changes to your life.

Are you happy in your job, what hours are you working, what is your wage, your annual leave, what expectations are you and your work putting on you? I often explain to my clients that in the UK it is illegal to not be paid for the hours that you work, that even if you are on a zero hour contract and work 5 hours one week and 20 hours the next you must be paid for all of the hours you work. If you do agreed extra hours, then you should receive either overtime pay or Time of in Lieu TOIL. If you are working extra hours each week be it 5, 20 or more you need to consider at what cost to you, your family and your quality of life? Are you a slave to your work, people who consistently overwork for no extra pay can become slaves to their job. The client that I speak about here, who was often working an 80 hour week is the extreme; she was being paid £70,000 per year, being bullied and harassed by her colleagues and under so much pressure she couldn’t cope with it.

Now in small amounts, stress can help you rise to the challenges of everyday life, it is what it was biological designed for the fight or flight response. But too much over a long period of time can damage your body and your mind. Stress can affect how you feel, think, behave and even how your body responds and in the long term works.

Stress is a natural response, we are hard-wired to react in ways that protect us against threats from predators and other aggressive situations, however these days there is no sabre-tooth tiger lurking around the corner. The body’s stress system is usually self-limiting which means once the threat is gone the hormone levels in the body return to normal. Adrenaline drops as do the levels of cortisol and other stress hormones in your system. Blood pressure returns to normal and your heart rats drop back to baseline levels, but when the stressors are always there, a constant presents in your life the flight or fight systems stay on meaning the body is overexposed to cortisol and all the other stress hormones and these interfere with natural boldly functions.

Early signs of stress can include headaches, loss of appetite, inability to concentrate, trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, over eating, a racing heart, muscle tensions or pain and problems controlling emotions. Everyone reacts to stress differently some people seems to thrive while others don’t and each individual may cope with different stressors in different ways. Just because some people cope in one environment doesn’t mean that because you’re having difficulty means you’re less able or weak.

Ongoing chronic stress can cause or worsen many serious health problems, such as depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, the possibility of heart attacks or strokes and heart disease. It can cause eating disorders, menstrual cycles may become disrupted and sexual problems can develop for both men and women. It can even affect skin and hair, such as acne, eczema, hair loss and psoriasis   

If you are suffering from work anxiety/stress issues we can help you but you must be willing to help yourself. Stress doesn’t have to run your life there are ways of dealing with it eating better, getting outside in the sun. Several of my clients have asked for overtime pay, time off in lieu or reduced the unpaid hours that they work each day, week or month as well as practicing Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction and having Hypnotherapy to reduce and resolve their work issues.

Adrian Sonnex and Joel Cantor have been awarded these quality standards, Adrian Sonnex is also a Acknowledged GHR Supervisor



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