How not to cope with office stress

A new report suggests UK workers are bad at dealing with stress. Not ideal in the current climate...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Three-quarters of UK workers are getting seriously stressed about their jobs – and most are responding in ways that could seriously damage their health, according to a new report by Siemens and the Stroke Association. The report identifies the most stressful occupations and regions in the country – and warns that unless we get off our swivel chairs and start getting some exercise, slow internet connections and missed deadlines might be the least of our worries…

Siemens found that recruiters are the most stressed workers in UK plc, with a whopping 82% of consultants admitting that they regularly suffer from stress (presumably it’s the ‘stretch’ targets). They were closely followed by lawyers, teachers and – rather surprisingly – marketers, who considered themselves more stresses than either health professionals or bankers. While we would never denigrate the psychological challenges posed by direct mail campaigns and re-branding exercises, we can’t help feeling they’re being a bit melodramatic there.

The key point is that we don’t tend to be very good at dealing with this stress, turning to all kinds of unhealthy sources of comfort: 47% of us get angry and 38% of us cry, while others seek refuge in food (43%), booze (34%) or cigarettes (28%). Pretty much all of the above are likely to lead to higher blood pressure, which in turn increases our risk of stroke – apparently Britain’s third biggest killer.

The answer, according to the Stroke Association, is for us to take more exercise. Currently just 13% of us use this as a way to unwind and de-stress, although some industries are better than others (IT people were the most likely to get the gym vest out in times of stress, which is ironic, given that they aren’t generally considered the healthiest of office workers).

The authors of the report are doing their bit by introducing the Siemens Stroke for Stroke Week, a week in November where slackers like us can sign up to do a sponsored 10km row at a local gym in aid of the Stroke Association. It’s even got the heavyweight support of four-time Olympic winner Sir Matthew Pinsent, who called it ‘a fantastic opportunity for people to realise the amazing stress-busting benefits that rowing can bring’. And it’s all for a great cause – although the prospect of a 10km row would probably make us feel even more stressed, if anything...

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How not to cope with office stress

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