• "We’ve recovered £100,000 in costs thanks to Iken reporting"
    Greater Manchester Police
  • "Iken is brilliant and definitely worth looking at "
    South Wales and Gwent Police
  • "Iken have been a pleasure to work with, however the system stands out for itself"
    Emma Mason, eastlaw
  • "Iken staff are friendly, knowledgeable and supportive"
    Stoke-on-Trent Council
  • "Iken's an ideal solution for in-house legal teams"
    Premier Farnell

Stress Awareness Month

This April marks the 25th anniversary for Stress Awareness Month in the US. Seeing  trending on Twitter got me thinking about how often the word ‘stress’ is blurted out or dropped into conversation with little thought as to its true meaning.


“This paperwork is making me stressed”

“This morning was so stressful – I’ve had 5 cups of coffee already”

“That was a stressful journey”

Is this overuse of the word enabling true stress issues to be brushed under the carpet? Seen as every day issues rather than something more serious?

In the UK in 2015/16 stress accounted for 45% of all working days lost due to ill health, 11.7 million working days in total. Not only is it concerning that almost half of all sick days taken could be directly linked to mental health conditions, but that is a huge number of days for businesses (large and small) to be losing.

There are a number of wellbeing, physical health and mental health initiatives being used and new schemes being rolled out but the numbers are standing fairly steady. So what can we do to recognise and reduce stress within our teams? And how can we encourage employees to seek help sooner?

Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you feel threatened, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which rouse the body for emergency action. Left untreated, chronic stress can lead to extremely serious health issues like anxiety, depression, obesity, diabetes, gastrointestinal issues and heart disease.

In the 2016 Labour Force Survey, 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.

Yes, we all have tight deadlines sometimes. Yes, you can be overloaded sometimes. But when this becomes the norm and nothing is done about it, it is detrimental to output, wellbeing, moral and, as stated above – health.

Health isn’t something that should ever be sacrificed for a deadline and it is time we all started taking more notice.

Signs of stress include:

  • Appetite Changes
  • Dizziness
  • Dramatic Changes in Sleeping Patterns
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Lack of Energy
  • Nervousness
  • Upset Stomach 

What can you do to tackle stress?

  • Talk about Stress and it’s effects
  • Share your coping mechanisms
  • Share openly where you can get help
  • Be nice to those who are stressed and anxious
  • Look after yourself

The bottom point is the most important point, look after yourself when you are stressed or anxious. Make time to relax when you need to and learn to say no to requests that are too much for you. There is a general feeling that saying no won’t help you get ahead, but wouldn’t you rather deliver one great piece of work than two mediocre pieces? 

At Iken we have an active wellbeing policy and encourage our employees to take advantage of flexible and home working as well as having regular 1:1’s with line managers or HR. Wellbeing is raised at every 1:1, whether an employee has raised an issue or not. Telling your manager you aren’t coping can be very difficult and we have found that asking the question and giving the opportunity to speak about issues can encourage an employee to open up and any stressors can be identified and resolved early on.

Technology plays a key role in the development of stress as we live a 365:24/7 lifestyle with constant access to personal and work devices and systems. The temptation to check work emails or how many likes you have on your latest post can be an addiction. We ask that employees do not log on to work systems or devices outside of working hours unless entirely necessary to strengthen work life balance.

If you are suffering from stress or any stress related issues here are some good helplines and resources: SupportLine, NHS, ACAS, Law Care


Iken Administrator

Iken Administrator

Poppy Watson-Brooks


Member for
1 year 11 months