Stressed? You’re Not Alone!

Unum is shining a light on common themes that stir up stress in people’s lives and have the potential to cause serious consequences to a person’s health and to a business’ bottom line.

A survey commissioned by Unum finds that younger workers experience stress more frequently than their older peers. The study is shedding light on the negative health effects of stress during Stress Awareness Month.

Key findings from the survey of 1,232 U.S. adults include:

  • Thirty-nine percent of workers ages 18-34 experience stress daily to several times a week.
  • Older Baby Boomers are the least stressed, with 79 percent of workers age 65 and older experiencing stress infrequently or never.
  • Working women of all ages report more frequent exposure to stress than working men, with 54 percent of women feeling stress daily to weekly compared to 47 percent of men.
  • The top causes of stress among all age groups include financial stress (49 percent), home life and family relationships (43 percent), personal health (35 percent), job responsibilities (33 percent), and the health of family members (33 percent).

“Stress impacts worker productivity and can escalate over time to more serious health concerns and absences,” said Greg Breter, senior vice president of Benefits at Unum. “While stress may not be reported as the primary cause of absence, it’s often the underlying issue that caused or exacerbated another health condition and slowed down recovery.”

Although most stress originates outside the workplace, it’s in an employer’s best interest to provide resources that proactively support employees in managing their stress before it escalates and impacts their job, the study notes. The American Institute of Stress estimates that stress costs the U.S. economy over $300 billion annually in absenteeism, “presenteeism,” turnover, lower productivity, accidents and medical costs.

Responses to stress

Stress has physical, behavioral and cognitive side effects. While it can manifest itself differently from person to person, common signs include a significant change in quality of work, professional demeanor or personality.

The body’s short-term responses to stress include:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Tense muscles, nausea or dry mouth
  • Avoidance behavior, lack of participation in group activities
  • Reduced reasoning, difficulty making decisions
  • Increased ‘fight or flight’ response, unhelpful or ‘black-or-white’ thinking
  • Working longer hours or often late

The long-term responses include:

  • Loss of memory, concentration or confidence
  • Irritation and anger
  • Causing or aggravating of mental health conditions
  • Increased risk of chronic high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack
  • Tight chest, panic attacks or fainting
  • Headaches and back, neck or shoulder problems
  • Increased glucose in blood leading to blood sugar imbalance or diabetes
  • Loss of energy

For tips on how to manage stress in the workplace, visit http://workwell.unum.com.