How to Spot the Symptoms of Stress in Construction Workers
Last week we brought out readers an article all about work related stress in the construction industry. This is a subject that we’ll be hearing much more about as the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is focusing on mental wellbeing in the workplace and has published a strategy plan to deal with stress and reduce the number of new cases of ill health that are stress related. We British are used to maintaining a stiff upper lip – it’s long been a part of our national culture to put on a brave face and keep it to ourselves when we’re suffering from stress of any type. We tend to see mental health issues as referring to extreme examples where the symptoms are blatantly apparent or too debilitating to allow a person to carry on with their normal working life.
This is not a particularly helpful view and it’s time that we stopped sweeping mental health issues under the carpet and faced up to the problem so that we can start tackling it quickly and effectively. Dismissing mental health issues, whether it’s because they are not obviously apparent or becaue they don’t fit the stereotype just prolongs our ignorance, especially among those who may otherwise offer support. It also discourages those who do need help from speaking up. This culture of silence means that nobody discusses their problems until the build-up of stress leads to a dramatic release.
Stress is a feeling of being under abnormal pressure, whether this is due to financial worries, family worries or work worries, it can affect us both physically and emotionally. A little stress can be a good thing, it’s makes us more alert and efficient. However, prolonged or excessive stress can lead to mental health problems, anxiety, depresseion and even heart disease. During stressful situations, your body creates a stress response which can cause physical symptoms, intense emotions and behavioural changes, depending on the individual. Stress hormones are released which raise your blood pressure and increase heart rate to prepare your body for “fight or flight”. This can result in headaches, muscle tension nausea, indigestion and dizziness. Constant or prolonged stress means that these hormones remain n your body and build up until they start damaging your health.
Here are some of the main signs of stress:
· Feelings of constant worry or anxiety
· Feelings of being overwhelmed
· Difficulty in concentrating
· Mood swings or mood changes
· Difficulty in relazing
· Irritablity and short temper
· Low self-esteem
· Eating more or less than usual
· Feelings of nausea or dizziness
· Diarrhoea and constipation
· Using alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs in order to relax
· Aches and pains, muscle tensions
· Loss of libido (sex drive)
Next week we’ll be taking a look at the causes of stress and some of the methods you can use to help yourself. If you’re an employer, particularly in the construction industry where work at height and other risky activities are part of the job, the symptoms of stress (especially a lack of concentration) could lead to mistakes and accidents. It’s vital that you monitor your workforce for signs of stress so that help can be offered quickly before the the consequences become really serious.