There’s been a lot in the media the last week about this, with some typically sensational and misleading headlines such as the Daily Mail - "Working more than eight hours a day raises the risk of heart disease by 80%".  All the noise has resulted from the publication of two studies, one in the American Journal of Epidemiology focusing on working hours, and the other in The Lancet concentrating on general job strain and not ‘feeling in control’.   

Having looked at the excellent explanations on the NHS Choices site, the general conclusion seems to be that, even when other factors are taken into account, workplace stress can have a significant effect on a person’s risk of having a heart attack. However, this effect is less significant than other lifestyle factors such as smoking or lack of exercise.

So, what can you do about workplace stress?

Take a hard look at what’s causing your stress.  If you’re working long hours – could you improve your time management or are you doing it just because everyone else does – and is that a valid reason?  If you feel you’re struggling with the tasks you’re asked to do, 

look at what additional skills might help you to  
cope better and look at training options.  If you feel bullied, or you have no control, check how your colleagues are feeling and consider approaching your boss with a  proposal on how to change things.  If none of this works, then look hard at your values and consider whether you are in the right job – or at worst do everything else you can to reduce your risks.

What else can you do to reduce your risks?
There’s plenty of advice around – smoking is the No 1 risk factor.  Maintaining a healthy weight, keeping your alcohol intake within the recommended limits and taking regular exercise are all very important.  Easier said than done?

Need a second opinion?
Sometimes when you’re in a situation, it can be really difficult to see things objectively and you just keep trying to sort things out and it doesn’t work.  NLP coaching can help you take a fresh look at what’s going on for you, whether you need a career change or just some motivation to improve your lifestyle.


The Evening Standard ran an excellent article by Simon English yesterday entitled “Fear and self-loathing in the City”.  At the moment, there is a palpable feeling of hatred towards bankers – and unsurprisingly.  I feel as let down by the financial system as anyone.  However there are 400,000 people in the City of London, and over two million people working in financial services around the country and I believe that the vast majority of them are hard working, honest people who, though they may be high earners, do not earn £25 million and are at least as horrified and embarrassed about all the scandals as us on the outside.  Having worked in one of the ‘big banks’ myself earlier in my career, I met up with a friend working in the structured products side of things (a lot of which are linked to LIBOR etc.) and, cynical as she usually is, she said that even she was ‘shocked’ at the recent scandal.

For these people life is tough at the moment.  I met another friend of mine whose job I wasn’t aware of at a function the other day and, when I asked how he was, he very quickly wanted me to know that neither he, nor his brother are ‘bankers’ in the way we understand it – though both of them work for very well known banks!  That sort of feeling doesn’t do a lot for your self-esteem.  There is huge insecurity – the ES article says that traders are shedding staff by the hundred.  There are rumours of another big clear out in the big banks.  There’s a feeling of injustice as bankers seem to take all the flak – most of it from MPs and journalists who are can hardly claim to be squeaky clean – and nobody much bothers about GlaxoSmithKline who have just paid out £1.9 billion in the largest healthcare fraud in history. 

 A positive approach to insecurity

Many in the industry are certainly wishing they had made different career choices – and 

wondering where to go from here if they lose their job – or even if they don’t lose their job but want to get out of the industry anyway.   If you’re in this situation there are options.  It is possible to change careers and many skills are transferrable.  A good first step is to have a think about your values – what really matters to you? What makes you happy? What about your current role - what do you like/not like about it etc.? Once you know what’s important to you and what you enjoy, options will become clearer and more defined. 

Think before applying blanket criticism
And if you’re one of those crying out for the bankers to be lined up and shot, it is worth considering  that the vast majority of them are almost certainly innocent of any wrongdoing, have mortgages and families to support just like the rest of us and life isn’t easy for them right now either – it could even be worse.  And if those lower down the banking hierarchy become so disillusioned that they stop caring ... things could even get worse for all of us. There’s a great maxim in NLP which is to criticise the behaviour rather than the person...worth bearing in mind!

If you’d like more information on coaching for career-change or stress management, feel free to get in touch.


A long while ago now, I found myself sitting at a desk at the top of a high tower block in a grey office (think rapunzel), head in hands saying, in a rather whiney voice, to anyone who’d listen – “this isn’t what my life should be about!”.

Since then I’ve revisited this statement. What did it really mean? In essence I was seeing that particular period of office work as a deceptively long ‘chapter’ or worse still, a ‘theme’ in the story of my life – one so boring that any editor worth their salt would delete it without a thought, any reader would skip on, hoping it would get more interesting before the end. 

This line of thinking has proved extremely useful in stimulating change – particularly for creative people who, like me, rather like the idea of a biography of their life – the ‘This is Your Life’ programme turning up on their doorstep, red book in hand. If you’re letting the years pass by without really addressing your priorities though, this can be quite a terrifying prospect – enough to shock you into action!

The key questions I look at with my clients are ‘what do you want your life to be about?’, ‘what are the key themes?’, ‘what would you edit/cut?’...and then we take it from there. 

In NLP we would probably call this a ‘different perspective’ – you being the author of the story of your life. Is it a good one? 

You only get to live this particular life once – what do you want yours to be about? And more importantly, what are you going to do about it?