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Some pressure at work is normal. Pressure isn’t always negative; it can help motivate us and make changes in our daily lives. But too much pressure can create stress and sustained exposure to stress is linked to mental health conditions, like anxiety and depression, and to physical problems. Physios know that back and neck muscles are particularly sensitive to the effects of stress. This can cause pain and sometimes headache too. All this can prevent us enjoying work and doing our jobs effectively. It also costs employers millions of pounds each year in sickness absence.
Physical activity – good for mind & body! Physiotherapists know that exercise can do more than just help manage body weight and prevent disease. Evidence shows that being physically active promotes mental well-being and reduces or wards off stress by:
- Causing your body to release chemicals which help lift your mood and make you feel more relaxed.
- Focusing your attention away from issues that make you feel stressed and onto what your body needs to do to run, kick a ball, or swing a racket.
- Helping you release pent-up stress and tension and making you more resilient to pressure.
Getting started Almost any form of physical activity can provide relief from tension or stress. The smallest steps can go a long way to improving your mental well-being, while also helping you look and feel better physically.
~ Good posture Whatever your occupation, it’s important to practice good posture for the tasks you’re expected to do. Bad habits, such as slouching, along with stress and anxiety can affect posture – causing you to hunch your shoulders, for example.
Active travel Travel actively by walking or cycling as part of your journey: •Get off the bus or train one stop earlier and walk the final part of your journey. If you drive, park further away than usual • At train stations and car parks, take the stairs instead of lifts or escalators •Cycling is great for fitness and a good stress reliever – it can also save you money on fares or fuel.
Easy exercise at work Too much time spent sitting at a desk or doing repetitive tasks can contribute to the development of back, neck and arm pain and other health problems. Breaking up your day so that you rotate your time spent doing other tasks, and moving and stretching regularly can help you think more clearly and be more efficient.
✔ Raise concerns with your employers early about any pressures you think are affecting your health. With their support, you might be able to address problems before they have a chance to build up.