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Is workplace stress getting you down?

The construction industry is beginning to show a worrying trend for workplace stress.  While we may traditionally think of stress hitting those ‘high flying’ office types who are burning the candle at both ends or those in jobs in the emergency services, having to make life or death decisions and deal with violent patients, do not be fooled; workplace stress can hit anyone in any job at any age, of any gender, race, class or religion at anytime.

Being a one-man band will hold different types of stress compared to say a construction manager running a huge job, with teams of people on a plush new London skyscraper, but that doesn’t mean that the stress itself will have any more or less impact on you as an individual.

According to the HSE, the ‘top five' most stressful aspects of work in construction are:
1) Having too much work to do in the time available;
2) Travelling or commuting;
3) Being responsible for the safety of others at work;
4) Working long hours; and
5) Having a dangerous job.

All five of the above will feature in the job of a plumbing or heating engineer, even point five, where you may be dealing with gas, electrics and safe water and sanitation – you may not be running into a burning building like a fireman, but plumbing and heating is the last bastion of public health after all.

For the one-man band or SME, the pressure of dealing with paperwork and the taxman can be an added burden.  Along with the risk of a ‘famine or feast’ nature of work – juggling all the bills on a bad month while still having to pay employees can have a massive impact.  Unlike the employed, self-employed tradesmen won’t get paid for having time off sick and therein lies the biggest part of the problem.  Workplace stress can spiral into depression, anxiety, insomnia and a host of other nasty conditions, which the self employed practitioner or owner of an SME may not give themselves the adequate time off to recover fully from.

If you are feeling stressed at work it is vital you get the right help at an early enough stage to stop it progressing to anything worse.  The biggest hurdle is admitting you may be feeling stressed in the first place – it’s just all part of modern life right?  Or maybe admitting you think something is wrong is not the manly thing to do? Wrong and you can take the NHS’s own workplace stress self-assessment test here as a starting point:

If you are feeling stressed the best thing to do is talk.  Talk to your family, friends, employer, your doctor, or first visit NHS choices for some online advice.  You’d be surprised how many people are in a similar position too.

Useful links:

Beat stress at work:

I burned out from work stress: