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16 January 2019
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The study surveyed 2,824 UK employees

15 May 2018 Herpreet Kaur Grewal


Highly stressed workers are almost twice as likely to make unhealthy lifestyle choices, research reveals.


The Global Benefits Attitudes Survey from global multinational risk management, insurance brokerage and advisory company Willis Towers Watson (WTW) found that 61 per cent of employees with high levels of stress are likely to eat unhealthily, exercise infrequently, smoke, and suffer from a lack of sleep.


This compares with just 34 per cent of those with low-level stress.


The research found that more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of highly stressed workers eat unhealthily, compared with less than half (46 per cent) of those with low levels of stress.


Furthermore, only 46 per cent of highly stressed workers exercise regularly and only half (50 per cent) sleep more than seven hours a night. Among low-stressed workers these figures rise to 71 per cent and 80 per cent respectively.


The study, which surveyed 2,824 UK employees at medium and large private sector companies, found that overall, highly stressed workers were eight times more likely to be unhealthy than those with minimal stress – poor health being cited by almost one in five (17 per cent) highly stressed respondents, compared with just 2 per cent with those with low stress levels.


Mike Blake, well-being lead for Willis Towers Watson, said: “The negative psychological, emotional and physical impact of stress on individuals can be considerable leading, amongst other things, to low energy levels, muscle tension, headaches and feelings of anxiety. Such effects serve only to discourage healthy behaviours such as exercise – a medically recommended antidote to stress.”


He added: “Employers can help employees break these vicious circles by taking the pulse of their workforce to determine what is contributing to stress and by addressing workplace issues and concerns. At the same time, they can take preventative measures by providing staff with stress and health awareness education and initiatives.”


This week is Mental Health Awareness Week.