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How to deal with stress at work

over 6 years ago

How to deal with stress at work

Are you experiencing stress at work, know someone who is, or want to know how to deal with it in the future? This short article will help explain what stress is, what situations at work can cause stress, and make a handful of recommendations on how to handle your stress.

What is Stress?

When looking to understand something, personally I always refer to the definition. This definition of stress is provided by the Oxford English Dictionary:

“A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.”

When we feel stressed we release hormones called Adrenaline and Cortisol. That’s why the first signs of stress are physical such as tiredness, headaches or an upset stomach. The release of these hormones is actually a primal instinct in response to threats, more commonly referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ response. If you’re often stressed you’re probably feeling physically unwell which can also affect your health in the long term. Stress can start to feel like a vicious cycle but understanding that it is a normal part of life can help you deal with this. Alternatively, a number of people will benefit from stress as it can be a drive that helps you to take action, feel more energised and get results.

Spotting the signs of stress

Sometimes knowing the signs of stress can make it easier to manage. Being aware of the symptoms makes it easier for you to identify when others are feeling stressed. The charity Mind provide some of the common signs of stress. These are listed below:

How you might feel:

  • ·     irritable, aggressive, impatient or wound up
  • ·     over-burdened
  • ·     anxious, nervous or afraid
  • ·     like your thoughts are racing and you can’t switch off
  • ·     neglected or lonely
  • ·     depressed
  • ·     uninterested in life
  • ·     like you’ve lost your sense of humour
  • ·     a sense of dread
  • ·     worried about your health
  • ·     unable to enjoy yourself

How you might behave:

  • ·     finding it hard to make decisions
  • ·     avoiding situations that are troubling you
  • ·     snapping at people
  • ·     biting your nails
  • ·     picking at your skin
  • ·     unable to concentrate
  • ·     eating too much or too little
  • ·   smoking or drinking alcohol more than usual
  • ·     restless, like you can’t sit still
  • ·     feeling tearful or crying

How you might be physically affected:

  • ·     shallow breathing or hyperventilating
  • ·     you might have a panic attack
  • ·     blurred eyesight or sore eyes
  • ·     problems getting to sleep, staying asleep or having nightmares
  • ·     sexual problems, such as losing interest in sex or being unable to enjoy sex
  • ·     tired all the time
  • ·    grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw
  • ·     headaches
  • ·     chest pains
  • ·     high blood pressure
  • ·     indigestion or heartburn
  • ·     constipation or diarrhoea
  • ·     feeling sick, dizzy or fainting

Everyone experiences stress differently, so you may only notice some of these signs in yourself and others.

What Causes Stress?

It could be one big thing, or it could be a number of smaller challenges which are causing you to feel stressed. A number of these triggers will include feeling under pressure, facing big changes, overwhelming responsibilities, a lack of responsibilities and not having much control over a situation. Below we have listed a number of common triggers related to employment:

  •   Losing your job
  •   Long-term unemployment
  •   Retiring
  •   Deadlines
  •   Difficult issues at work
  •   Starting a new job

Be aware that even some of your happy events can cause you to become stressed. It is the big changes or the unusual demands that can be stressful. Some may also feel the additional pressure to stay positive for these happy events.

How can I learn to be more resilient to stress?

Looking after your physical health is also a healthy way to control your emotions. Exercising naturally reduces stress levels, and can be a productive way of focusing your anger or even forgetting your current challenges. You should also aim to get a good sleep, eight hours is recommended. Finally, don’t give in to temptation and eat unhealthily. It can be tempting, especially when you are stressed, but eating the right foods will affect your emotional state.

Next, attempt to make some lifestyle changes. Develop interests and hobbies. Stress can often lead people to feeling lonely or isolated, so shared hobbies can also be a good way to meet new people. Practice being straightforward and assertive, with a friend or even in the mirror. If you are being given unrealistic or unreasonable demands, you can prepare yourself to say no. Experiment with relaxation techniques and find what works for you. Suggestions include taking a bath, listening to music or reading a book.

Finally, make sure you give yourself breaks by rewarding yourself for your achievements, forgiving yourself for your mistakes, as being human we all make them. Resolve conflicts with your managers or colleagues. Relationships with the people around you can stunt your ability to relax and if you are surrounded by them every day then it can be one of the most important factors. Get a change of scenery, or if you work at a desk, re-organise it occasionally so that it feels fresh. Exit your normal routine by taking a holiday, just some time away can help you recharge.

Recommended Apps

Most of us live in a world surrounded by technology, and although I would advocate the effectiveness of talking, it is undeniable the convenience of the online/offline applications. Possibly the most popular of the apps is Headspace, a comprehensive meditation app whose goal it is to improve the health and happiness of the world. The app includes tutorials on how to meditate for beginners, and can track your progress for those of you who want to record the results. If you wish to learn about other apps on the market. I would recommend checking out this article HERE.


Whatever it is that is stressing you out, it is not important enough to ruin your health. By taking care of your mental health now, you are saving yourself more severe problems in the future. A number of techniques to combat stress have been recommended in this article but don’t worry if they aren’t for you because you will eventually find what is.

At ProTech we offer a space for our consultants to relax, to eat and to mingle. The table tennis table always improves the team’s spirits and we have a number of reading material which focuses on improving mental health. Every day we offer free fruit to encourage our staff to eat healthily and we get to leave at 16:00 on Friday because we all know how stressful rush hour can be. If you would like to join the ProTech team, please click HERE to apply.

Useful Contacts

Mind Infoline

Tel: 0300 123 3393

Open from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday

Text: 86463



Details of local Minds and other local services, and Mind’s Legal Line. Language Line is available for talking in a language other than English.

Be Mindful


Information about mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR). Guidance on how to learn mindfulness, including course listings.

Big White Wall


An online community of people who are finding it hard to cope. It’s completely anonymous so you can express yourself openly.



A Friendly, supportive, online community where you can talk openly about how you’re feeling.

Health and Safety Executive


Information about health and safety law in the workplace. Specialist information on stress for employers and employees.

International Stress Management Association


Lists stress practitioners by specialist area.

Mind Tools


Provides information on topics including stress management and assertiveness.

Stress Management Society


Provides information about stress and tips on how to cope.



Information about stress and techniques for coping. Lists several talking treatments and alternative therapies that can be used to treat stress.

Time to Change

Web: (England)

Web: (Wales)

An organisation which challenges mental health stigma and discrimination. Provides information