Sixteen hour working days, tight deadlines, sales targets, bonus targets, performance reviews, conference calls, childcare, pet care, travel, travel delays, airports, hotels, hostile bosses, hostile employees, lack of management support, HR bullies, redundancies, restructurings, resource issues, systems issues, zero work life balance, a global pandemic……
My job was killing me. Most of the above description pretty much sums up my 25+ year career (e.g., I don’t have children but even finding care for my dogs is stressful). Don’t get me wrong. I love my job and I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have had a career working in a fascinating field with incredibly talented people. But with my job has come tremendous stress. And this stress has impacted my mental and physical health.
Work-related stress, depression or anxiety is defined as a harmful reaction people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work. According to a report entitled “Work-related Stess, Anxiety or Depression Statistics in Great Britian, 2020” “Work-Related Stress, Anxiety or Depression Statistics in Great Britain, 2020”, issued by the UK Health and Safety Executive on 4 November 2020 provides the following statistics:
- The latest estimates from the UK Labour Force Survey (LFS) show: The total number of cases of work- related stress, depression or anxiety in 2019/20 was 828,000, a prevalence rate of 2,440 per 100,000 workers. This was statistically significantly higher than the previous period.
- The rate of work-related stress depression and anxiety has increased in recent years.
- The number of new cases was 347,000, an incidence rate of 1,020 per 100,000 workers. The total number of working days lost due to this condition in 2019/20 was 17.9 million days. This equated to an average of 21.6 days lost per case. Working days lost per worker due to self-reported work- related stress, depression or anxiety shows no clear trend.
- In 2019/20 stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 51% of all work-related ill health cases and 55% of all working days lost due to work-related ill health.
- Stress, depression or anxiety is more prevalent in public service industries, such as education; health and social care; and public administration and defence. By occupation, professional occupations that are common across public service industries (such as healthcare workers; teaching professionals and public service professionals) show higher levels of stress as compared to all jobs.
- The main work factors cited by respondents as causing work-related stress, depression or anxiety were workload pressures, including tight deadlines and too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support (2009/10-2011/12).
Yoga Can Reduce Stress and Improve Your Health
I started practicing yoga 20 or so years ago as a form of exercise. I was young(ish) and not interested in the wider aspects of yoga. Anytime a yoga instructor would tell me to coordinate my breath with yoga poses or to try to bring my awareness to my practice, I’d roll my eyes. I only wanted six-pack abs.
It wasn’t until years later when I started experiencing health issues caused by stress that I began to take a more serious approach to yoga. I finally accepted that yoga is not only about poses and physical exercise. To really achieve the many benefits yoga offers, you have to embrace the fact that yoga is about movement, breath and being present. According to an article published by the Mayo Clinic entitled “Stress Management”, the potential health benefits of yoga include:
- Stress reduction. A number of studies have shown that yoga may help reduce stress and anxiety. Yoga can enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being. Yoga might also help you manage your symptoms of depression and anxiety that are due to difficult situations.
- Improved fitness. Practicing yoga may lead to improved balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength.
- Management of chronic conditions. Yoga can help reduce risk factors for chronic diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Yoga may also help manage low back pain, neck pain and menopause symptoms. Yoga might also help relieve symptoms of several chronic conditions, such as pain, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, arthritis and insomnia.
Yogaward offers a safe online space for anyone suffering work stress or any other mental health related challenge to join a similarly impacted global group of people who practice yoga together to improve our mental and physical health. I personally have seen my health improve in countless ways since I started a serious, contemplative yoga practice. We welcome you to join our yoga family.