If we consider a time when we have ourselves been under stress, such as just before a deadline, often we behave differently than we normally would. We can become short-tempered, agitated, aggressive and pre-occupied.

It can be difficult to notice differences over a period of time, changes in routines, mood, and social interactions and the quality of someones work can be common factors. The longer it takes for someone to ask for help the worse the stress becomes. Early intervention is much better for the individual and less costly for the organisation. Changes to look for include:

  • ‘Nerves’ crying easily, withdrawn, quiet
  • Depression, headaches, high blood pressure, tension, frustration, anxiety
  • Back ache, shoulder ache, neck ache
  • Appetite loss, skin conditions, ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Levels of stress

Hypostress occurs when coping resources exceed job pressure, often when a person is unchallenged at work. This can lead to general lethargy and lack of motivation which can give rise to under performance, and absence. Eustress is a state which involves moving out of the comfort zone by means of positive pressure, usually by some form of challenge or workload. This is an ideal state for most employees and employers.

Hyperstress occurs when increased pressure begins to exceed our coping resources. This is when the signs and symptoms of stress will begin to show. Hyperstress can be influenced by many factors such as significant life changes, family issues, as well as the pressures of work.

Distress occurs when increased or sustained pressure depletes an individual’s ability to cope to the point where they become overwhelmed by the situation and cannot physically maintain enough coping resources to continue. This often leads to mental or physical illness. This can result in nervous breakdown, severe depression, stroke, heart disease, and can weaken the immune system, potentially leading to other severe illnesses.


enlighten is an independent adviser for employee assistance programmes and wellbeing services. We provide leading EAP brands with the addition of the enlighten quality account management services. EAP buyers want good employee assistance programme engagement and working together we implement a winning formula for the UK and EAP global services.