Stress - Why Ignorance Fails and Talking Succeeds

In 2014/15, 43% of all working days lost in the UK were due to stress (Health and Safety Executive).

Everyone experiences some level of stress every day, and, in the right amount, this is a good thing. It is the drive that gets us out of bed, ready for the day, and ready to function normally. However, stress can often turn bad when our stress is greater than our capacity to cope. If ignored, this can grow into a serious problem. Talking could be the key to your effective stress management.

The stress cup theory demonstrates how stress works. It shows our capacity to cope as a cup, and stress as water that can fill the cup. It starts with good stress. This the stress that the brain needs on a daily basis to function normally, like waking up and going to work, and should not cause any major negative emotion. Then we get the bad stress - this is what can cause major negative emotions such as anger or nervousness. Amongst other things, a noisy or chaotic environment, or an excessive workload could cause this. Your stress cup allows for you to temporarily take on some of this bad stress, but if too much builds up then the cup will "overflow". In real terms, this is when stress becomes a real problem, causing issues such as mental and physical illnesses, and a general inability to go about daily life normally. 

Ignoring bad stress allows it to build up - we must face it in order to manage it. Talking to someone you trust about your problems can help to empty your stress cup. Having support from others or advice on how make your life less stressful is an excellent step towards better stress management. Talking therapies are a great way to talk through your problems with a non-judgmental professional who understands and can give guidance. It is also important that you are given the opportunity to talk about any stress problems at work so that you can identify how your workplace stress can be better managed.

To assess your organisation’s current stress management strategies, download our free checklist today.

I am an undergraduate BSc Psychology student at the University of Birmingham. I am driven to banish the stigma surrounding mental illness, and to encourage people to better identify and manage their mental health.

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