The ‘always on’ culture makes holidays a struggle for Brits

Even beautiful beaches can't distract stressed holidaymakers from checking their work emails.

Even beautiful beaches can’t distract stressed holidaymakers from checking their work emails.

The bank holiday week could offer the final opportunity to take a break and enjoy what’s left of the summer. Yet Brits struggle to unwind when they go away on holiday, taking on average four days, eight hours and 24 minutes before they can finally relax. That’s according to a survey by recruitment site Monster.co.uk.

A third of Britons take five days to relax, 40% take four days, one in 10 manages to unwind after just one day – and yet 18% never get into holiday mode at all. Why? Because they can’t switch off from work, and will continue to check their work emails in between trips to the beach and the pool. They may have flown miles away to escape the daily routine, but succeed only in bringing their stresses along with them.

Monster.co.uk’s Michael Gentle said: “The fact it is taking so long for workers to unwind on holiday is indicative of the ‘always switched on’ culture we now live in. By not relaxing fully, workers are putting themselves at risk of burnout, which will be detrimental to them and their employer in the long run.”

Employees turn to drink and drugs to cope with work stress

anima drinking for stress

A Mind survey reveals that 57% of UK workers drink to alleviate stress.

UK employees are so overwhelmed by stress at work that they’re turn to drink and drugs to help them cope. More than half (57%) drink after work, and one in seven drinks in the day to deal with workplace pressure, according to a survey of 2,000 workers by mental health charity Mind. More than a quarter (28%) smoke to alleviate their stress, 15% take antidepressants, and 10% take sleeping pills from their doctor.

Work is the biggest cause of stress , and yet there’s a culture of silence and secrecy surrounding anyone who’s stressed at work. One in five people has taken a day off sick for stress, but 90% make up a different excuse for being off. One in 10 has resigned because of stress – and yet one in five doesn’t feel able to talk to their boss about feeling overwhelmed. Managers are stuck, too: more than half who took part in the Mind survey said they’d love to do more to improve employee wellbeing, but 46% said preventing and handling stressed-out employees just wasn’t the company’s priority.

If you’re one of the one in six employees suffering from depression, anxiety or stress, don’t suffer in silence. Reach out for some help. Work-related stress is one of the areas Davanti Counselling specialises in. Call 07956 823501 or email davanticounselling@gmail.com for a confidential chat and to make an appointment.

Why do women suffer more job stress than men?

Mimosa is the symbol for International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day on 8 March is an opportunity to celebrate and support women across the globe. But it’s also an annual opportunity for survey-makers to analyse the experience of women in the workplace.

This year, research shows that women feel they’re more stressed than their male colleagues. The 2013 Work and Wellbeing Survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) has found that while 86% of women say they have good mental health, more than a third (37%) say they feel tense or stressed out at work. This compares with 33% of men. Here are some of the factors making women feel stressed:

  • Women don’t feel there’s a level playing field at work. The APA survey found that 48% of women felt valued in their jobs, compared with 54% of men. And just 34% believe their employer gives them the resources to manage their stress.
  • Women have less job security than men. A report by PwC says that childcare costs and many women only able to work nine-to-five has harmed their career prospects. Its Women in Work Index  shows that the UK is ranked 18th out of 27 countries in terms of the opportunities it offers for women to advance in the workplace.
  • The pay gap isn’t cheering women up either. ‘Why is WonderWoman worth less than Superman?” asks the Chartered Management Institute, as it reflects on factors holding women back in the workplace.
  • There’s not enough ‘meaning’ in their jobs. Women aren’t always interested in power and money, says an Ernst & Young report. It’s ‘making a contribution’ that matters more. And the report advises women to seek our role models and mentors to help realise their ambitions.
  • Having no set goals can also make women feel stressed and lacking direction. That’s why the everywomanNetwork is encouraging women to invest an hour a week in their career ambitions.  Owning your dreams, and devising a plan to implement them, can make you feel more in control of your life.
  • Not having enough sleep can make the stresses of the day loom larger. You can feel irritated and overly sensitive if you’re sleep-deprived. Don’t be superwoman and think you can survive on four hours’ sleep a night like Margaret Thatcher. Get your eight hours in, where possible.
  • The inner critic can be a woman’s own worst enemy. Arianna Huffington, founder of Huff Post, is urging women to ‘stress less, live more‘. In an interview with CNN, she says women’s pressures are self-imposed, and they feel victims of the “critical voice that constantly judges us, according to which we are never good enough”.

In summary, more self-confidence, more sleep, more control over ambitions, and more encouragement seems to be the answer to alleviating women’s job stress. Not all achievable in one day, admittedly. But the most important thing is to turn down the volume on that critical voice in the head.

Lack of sleep can affect your health and your home life

anima sleep

Is burning the midnight oil affecting your health? (pic: istockphoto.com/Yuri_Arcurs)

We all know how groggy and out of sorts we can feel if we don’t get enough sleep. But two studies have shown just what an impact sleep deficiency can have on our body and our mood.

Getting less than six hours’ sleep a night for a week can alter more than 700 genes in our bodies, according to research from the University of Surrey. The immune system and how the body reacts to stress were the areas most affected by lack of sleep, the researchers found. Getting enough sleep is therefore crucial to replacing cells in our body to maintain healthy functioning.

This isn’t always easy though, especially for working parents. A separate study by workplace provider Regus found that a third (34%) of working parents sacrificed sleep to fit in all their work and personal commitments. Yet three-quarters find themselves sucked into the culture of ‘presenteeism’ because their workplaces prize a long-hours culture.

Work-life balance is a hard one to get right. “Lack of sleep is clearly detrimental to worker health and happiness,” says Regus UK MD Steve Purdy. Perhaps that’s something to reflect on next time you set your alarm extra early or find yourself burning the midnight oil.

Six signs you’re suffering from workplace burnout

workplace stress, stressed at work

Two-thirds of HR directors in UK employees say workload is the biggest cause of burnout (pic: istockphoto.com/olm26250)

Workload too heavy? Colleagues not pulling their weight? Putting in regular overtime but feeling resentful and short-changed because of it?

You’re not alone. Two-thirds of HR directors say workload is the main reason for employee burnout, according to a survey by recruitment company Robert Half UK.  And those same HR directors are on alert for the signs that their staff are buckling under the stress that current economic burdens are placing on their shoulders.

You may feel pressure to stay late to keep your job, give your all to meet higher expectations, and end up without any praise or recognition for your efforts. On top of that, you may end up sacrificing your work-life balance that means no one wins: not you, your boss or your family.

But the thing about stress and workplace burnout is it can creep up on you over many weeks and months. You may think you’re ‘coping’, but sometimes a minor happening can become a major incident when stress takes over. ‘Good’ stress can help you perform at your best. But ‘bad’ stress – when it becomes you master, not your servant – can be detrimental to your work performance and to your emotional and mental wellbeing.

Here are the six signs from the Robert Half survey that show you could be heading for burnout:

  • Frequently turning up late for work.
  • Being less productive.
  • Frequently disagreeing with managers or colleagues.
  • Feeling disconnected from the work you’re doing.
  • Calling in sick more often.
  • Feeling low and moody, and sometimes having an emotional outburst.

Feel work’s getting on top of you? Recognise the signs, and speak to someone before you burst.