A LEADING British charity is urging UK employers to allow their employees the opportunity to de-stress in a bid to promote workplace well-being.

FirstLight Trust, a charity offering practical support for veterans of the Emergency Services and Armed Forces suffering from high levels of stress, is urging employers and employees to recognise the implications of stress within the workplace and the knock-on effect this can have on productivity and life outside of work.

Before the clocks go back

Stress Down Day UK takes place on 26 October, the Friday before the clocks go back. It’s designed to highlight the effects on businesses and colleagues of the increasing problem of stress within the workplace. The initiative aims to educate sufferers of stress with hints and exercises that can be used throughout the day.

£4 billion a year lost through stress

“The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says over 11 million days are lost at work a year because of stress at work. They estimate the costs to society of work-related stress are around £4 billion each year,” explains Dorinda Wolfe Murray, founder of FirstLight Trust.

“There is a lot of talk around stress and its negative impact but not much in the way of achievable actions – that are fun! Taking time out to recharge (even for a minute) can make a huge difference to individuals and companies. Happy people make for a happy and therefore productive community and workplace!”

Stretching and yawning

This year’s Stress Down Day UK campaign focuses on how stretching and yawning can help reduced stress. Researchers have proven that when the brain is focused on a specific task it ignores how stress and tension are building up in the body. Stretching helps release stress in the muscles, and emerging research suggests that yawning, when done purposively could help reboot your attention, focus and mental acuity. Supporters are encouraged to post photos of themselves stretching and yawning using the hashtag #StressDownDayUK

People and companies are also being urged to give a donation to the charity, in return for information to help with their stress issues. The money raised will help FirstLight to support those suffering from extreme stress within the Emergency Services and Armed Forces.

Why not join in? Take a look at Stress Down Day UK sign-up . Participants are encouraged to post their stretch and yawn poses on 26 October on Twitter @firstlighttrust and Facebook @firstlighttrust and Instagram @firstlight_trust.