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Stress in the Workplace? It’s Time to get it Under Control

| Becca Clayton

A Modern Epidemic

We can no longer hide from the effects of stress in the workplace. It is increasingly referred to as a ‘modern epidemic.’ Recent statistics show that over 11 million days are lost at work a year because of stress at work and according to the Health and Safety Executive HSE, in 2017/18 595,000 people in the UK reported work-related stress at a level they believed was making them ill.

We all encounter workplace related stress at some point in our lives. It is a natural and normal human reaction. However, the difference between letting stress overwhelm you and you coping with it – even thriving on it – can be vital.

‘Work-related stress is one of the biggest health hazards in the workplace. Stress is difficult to identify, but it can be caused by excessive workloads or pressure placed on employees.’

Identifying Work Related Stress

There are a number of reasons for workplace stress. Factors may include:

  • long hours and shift work;
  • lack of control or insecurity;
  • lack of job satisfaction, boredom or isolation;
  • fear of violence, bullying or harassment;
  • bad relations with other work colleagues;
  • problems with the working environment – such as noise, temperature, overcrowding and poor facilities;
  • low pay.


The Real Effects on Your Mind & Body

Although some short term workplace stress is normal, in other cases, it can cause mental and physical illnesses. By that we mean anxiety, depression, altered appetite, headaches, backache or difficulty in sleeping.

If stress hormones are triggered in your body for extended periods, they can even lead to many symptoms physcial, mental and emotional. As a result, stress has a significant negative impact on your daily performance.

Common mental effects of stress include:

  • feeling that you can’t cope
  • finding it hard to concentrate and remember things
  • lacking confidence
  • not feeling motivated or committed
  • feeling disappointed with yourself
  • indecisiveness

Emotional effects of stress include:

  • feeling depressed
  • anxious
  • feeling more emotional – you might be more tearful or sensitive
  • irritable, or having a short temper
  • being overwhelmed
  • mood swings

Physical effects may include:

  • feeling tired and lacking energy
  • diarrhoea or constipation
  • aches and pains
  • nausea
  • headaches
  • putting on or losing weight
  • chest pains or tightness in your chest


Reducing or elimiating stress at work is key if you, your colleagues and organisation are going to thrive. In order to reduce or eliminate your workplace stress, it’s important to get a head start and create a healthy, positive  lifestyle.

“In life, there’s always a solution to a problem.. Not taking control of the situation and doing nothing will only make your problems worse.” Professor Cary Cooper, Occupational Health Expert

Get it Under Control, Fast

The great news is there are plenty of ways you can start reducing and preventing workplace related stress. Don’t be a victim and start making these simple lifetyle changes today…

1.Take Time

If work has started to become too much, taking some time out is important. Anyone can get overwhelmed when stress occurs at work, and this can spill into others areas of your life. This is why it’s important to clock out mentally at the end of the day. Taking time to relax and unwind in order to regain your energy will help you come back invigorated. During this time out, do something you enjoy; something that makes you happy.

2. Remove, Change or accept Stressors

When signs of workplace stress arise, it’s important to recognise your stressors, then act on them. If possible, remove them completely or, sometimes it is best to accept what cannot be changed and try to move forward. Changing a difficult situation isn’t always possible, therefore try to concentrate on the things you do have control over.

3. Create Positive Relationships at Work

A good support network of colleagues, friends and family can ease your work troubles and help you see things in a different way. One key to improving your ability to manage stress is by being able to accept help from others. Make an effort to create friendships with colleagues. Also, forming a healthy relationship with your manager is important. Positive two-way conversations and being honest about how you feel can is always a good start.

4. Be Mindful of your Health

The irony of stress is that sometimes your health can take a backseat. Maintaining and improving your health with help keep your stress under control. By eating healthy foods and avoiding unhealthy snacks, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep at night can all help create a positive mind and help you react to stressors better. Simple but so true says Becca, Founder of Tonic and Wellness Expert.

5. Just Breathe

Sometimes, we are just so busy with day to day life, that we forget to do the smallest of things, such as breathing properly. Taking slow, deep breathes and emphasising your exhale can make a huge difference. As this promotes the relaxation response, it lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, guaranteeing to make you feel more relaxed.

Take a look at this useful resource from the Groom and Style Website: ‘Breathing Techniques, A Guide to the Science & Methods.’

We have established that at some point, everybody can experience stress at work.  It’s how quickly you recognise it and how you deal with it that matters. What we also know is that the benefits of preventing work-related stress are plentiful. In essence a happier, healthier and more motivated workforce; fewer absences arising from occupational ill-health; sustained productivity and reduced costs. Don’t let work-related stress harm your people or your business performance! For more information on stress in the workplace or to find other ways to help put your wellbeing at the heart of your organisation and its people, visit our blog. 

And remember it’s okay to not be okay every single day even in the workplace!


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