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Managing stress in the workplace

Examining these factors in a methodical way can help you cultivate positive solutions to reducing stress in the workplace

The Health and Safety Executive, using data from the Labour Force Survey, found that in 2016, 1,510 out of every 100,000 workers reported stress at work, accounting for 37% of work related ill health. The factors cited included workload pressures, tight deadlines and lack of managerial support. 

Awareness of triggers

The owner of Working Career, Diana Dawson, suggests that keeping a journal can help you identify what triggers in your working day are causing a stress response. Having identified the causes of anxiety, you can put strategies in place to tackle them.


If excessive workload is a stressor, communicating with your manager is advised. It is not admitting to failure, but rather ensuring that your work is being viewed qualitatively. Sarah Connell from MindingMe Psychologists suggests that when meeting your manager, make sure you are prepared. Bring a list of your current projects, including the resources required and expected duration. Explain what is challenging and, importantly, what solutions you have devised to help. Remaining professional throughout demonstrates your commitment to overcoming the challenges. David Webb from Acas suggests that if your employer does not respond in a positive and professional manner, you should speak to a trade union or utilise your company’s grievance policy.

Saying no to unmanageable tasks

Psychotherapist and life coach, Hilda Burke, believes that saying “yes” to everything stems from a childhood fear of rejection. In the workplace, the gratitude for having employment often means taking on too much responsibility. She believes this can lead to a reduction in the quality of your work. By saying no to unmanageable tasks, you are demonstrating that you are fully productive and engaged. Burke singles out freelancers as being particularly susceptible to this and suggests they share their workload with others.

Positive behavioural changes

Connell suggests cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness techniques may help where workplace stress is unresolved. They may help you to see workplace difficulties from a different perspective, with the added bonus of teaching you stress management techniques. Sarah Archer, co-founder of CareerTree, also suggests turning off your phone and email when you are at home, leaving stress at the office.

Rest your brain by taking breaks

Taking breaks will help reduce your workload, according to psychologist, Gary Wood. Working through your breaks will only add to your stress and this will make you less productive overall. Wood believes stress also reduces creativity. Sleeping well and eating healthily are also essential during busy periods. Looking after yourself at home helps you to perform at your peak in the workplace.

Find alternative employment

If you have followed all the advice outlined above and are still finding your workplace stress unmanageable, looking for a new opportunity elsewhere is an option. Looking for and securing a new job requires confidence, so timing is important. Archer suggests researching workplace management and ethics when looking for a new job, to avoid further difficulties. She suggests viewing workplace survey sites such as Glassdoor and raising management techniques at interview, to ensure that you are comfortable with the working practices of any new employer.

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