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We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” comes to mind. As we lose who we are and wrap oursleves in a world where work and commitments take over our whole life  we lose a part of ourselves forgetting to find enjoyment in doing simple things like we did as a child.”

George Bernard Shaw

This week at my day job I was asked repeatable if we opened Sundays, two beauty salons I know were open bank holiday Monday, and supermarkets are open 24hrs a day and I have been asked to still do a counselling session on Boxing day.  More and More people are working longer hours, working weeks and are finding it harder and harder to have a work-home life balance, and I can’t help wandering if the 24hour society is actually doing more damage to our health (emotional, mental and physical).

According to HSE-Stress and Psychological Disorders in Great Britain 2013 Report– (

In 2011/12 there was an estimated incidence of 86 000 male and 135 000 female cases of work-related stress based on the Labour Force Survey. This compares to an estimates prevalence of 175 000 cases of work related stress amongst males and 253 000 cases of work related stress amongst females. 

Females have a statistically significantly higher estimated incidence rate than males in 2011/12. 

For males, the 16 – 34 and 55+ age groups have a statistically significantly lower incidence rate than the average rate for all persons. 

The 45 – 54 age group has the highest incidence rate for the combined male and female group. 

The age group with the highest incidence rate for females is the 35 – 44, and this is statistically significantly higher than the average rate for all persons. 

Males have a statistically significantly lower prevalence rate in 2011/12 compared to 2001/02, whilst the rate amongst females has remained unchanged. 

With the economic climate, many job losses and unemployment (although falling is still at a high of  2.08 million); people are working the extra for fear of not been flexible, job cuts and to cover the the every increasing bills, to then when they need an appointment, (medical, dental, counselling, hair) ask the same thing that they begrudge  their  own employer asking them to do.  As more and more of us expect each business to go the extra mile asking staff to start early, finish later, work 6 and in some cases 7 days a week I wander if this isn’t exacerbating a stress cycle and how many businesses really need to offer a 24/7 service or are just scared they will lose custom and clients if they don’t and that is not including the stresses of family life, childcare arrangements, money and relationships. 

Stress symptoms vary from person to person: and can be an accumulation of Emotional, Physical, Cognitive and Behavioural.

Emotional symptoms of stress include:

  • Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
  • Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control
  • Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
  • Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed
  • Avoiding others

Physical symptoms of stress include:

  • Low energy
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach, including diarrhoea, constipation, and nausea
  • Aches, pains, and tense muscles
  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
  • Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands and feet
  • Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
  • Clenched jaw and grinding teeth

Cognitive symptoms of stress include:

  • Constant worrying
  • Racing thoughts
  • Forgetfulness and disorganisation
  • Inability to focus
  • Poor judgement
  • Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side

Behavioural symptoms of stress include:

  • Changes in appetite — either not eating or eating too much
  • Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities
  • Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
  • Exhibiting more nervous behaviours, such as nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing

With more and more people suffering from stress, more people are looking for outlets some that help alleviate  such as going to the gym, others that hinder by turning to alcohol and drugs exacerbating an already difficult situation.  More and more people are getting put onto anti depressants (1 in 6 adults) to cope with everything within their lives as they are spread so thin by all the commitments they need to make and aren’t coping it becomes a vicious cycle that people can’t get off, loosing the ability to find enjoyment in life and even the things they enjoy .

When working with peoples suffering from depression, stress and anxiety  it important to not only look at the cause but also to look at the things that previously enjoyed doing but because of life getting in the way they have stopped.  Reconnecting with the things that people enjoy can help to alleviate stress, and start to look at the things that they need to change in their life and having an outlet such as counselling gives people the change to verbalise something they may not be able to do.  

As more and more of us forget to play and enjoy our lives the cycle continues.  Its importnat to take the time out to rest, it doesn’t have to be a holiday, it doesn’t have to be what everyone else thinks you should be doing, but it needs to be something that you enjoy doing, something that will make you smile and more importantly something that will help let go of all the commitments