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Overcoming Workplace Stress.

Kerry Thompson
How many times have you been trying to enjoy your Sunday when all you can do is think about, and dread, the fact that Monday marches ever closer and brings with it another week of work.

We all spend a significant amount of time at work, wherever that may be. For some lucky enough to be doing something they love it can be something they look forward to every day. However, for many people, their work is one of the biggest causes of stress.

Workplace stress can affect our entire lives if we let it take hold.

How many times have you been trying to enjoy your Sunday when all you can do is think about, and dread, the fact that Monday marches ever closer and brings with it another week of work.

How many times after that cliché ‘bad day at work’ have you snapped at your wife/husband?

For these reasons as well as that we believe everyone deserves to be happy at work; it is important to know the signs of workplace stress, and how to combat them, working to become resilient to them.

You can’t become immune to stress at work, but you can learn how to deal with it and how to bounce back quicker.

What are the symptoms of workplace stress?

Before you can tackle workplace stress, it is useful to identify what it looks like to be suffering from it.

The signs are generally broken down into three categories of how it will manifest itself: How you might be feeling, how you might behave and physical signs of stress.

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
  • Unable to enjoy yourself
  • Depressed
  • Uninterested in life
  • Like you've lost your sense of humour
  • A sense of dread
  • Worried about your health
  • Neglected or lonely.

How you might behave:

  • Finding it hard to make decisions
  • Constantly worrying
  • 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
  • Being tearful or crying.

Physical signs:

  • Shallow breathing or hyperventilating
  • You might have a panic attack
  • Muscle tension
  • 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.

Causes of work stress

There are lots of factors that can contribute to your stress, however, it doesn’t have to be one big thing causing it. It could also be a build-up of lots of little factors, this can make it difficult to identify what it is that is causing it or, to explain it to other people.

Here are some possible causes of stress:

  • Being under lots of pressure
  • Facing big changes
  • Worrying about something - redundancies, furlough (does being on furlough mean I’m not critical or important)
  • Not having much or any control over the outcome of a situation
  • Having responsibilities that you're finding overwhelming
  • Not having enough work, activities or change in your life
  • Times of uncertainty - COVID is the biggest example of this

How can workplace stress be reduced?

Dealing with workplace stress

There are various steps you can take to cope with being under pressure. They're just ideas and may not work for everyone. Only try what you feel comfortable with.

  • Identify the triggers
  • Organise your time - to do list, time box activities, don’t take on too much (say no!)
  • Be realistic with your targets - don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Set smaller, achievable targets. E.g from “write website text” to “write intro text”
  • Take break away from your desk or task in hand - home working can be particularly difficult for this.
  • Ask for help
  • Address the causes of stress and make changes - family, relationships, friends, work, finances, clients. Not all business is good business.
  • Accept the things you can’t change - It's not easy, but accepting that there are some things happening to you that you probably can't do anything about will help you focus your time and energy more productively.
  • Have a neutral party to discuss your stresses with e.g., a coach or a mentor
  • Identify your best time of the day do the important tasks that need the most energy and concentration at that time. For example, you might be a morning person or an evening person.
  • Vary your activities. Balance interesting tasks with more mundane ones, and stressful tasks with those you find easier or can do more calmly
  • Try not to do too much at once. If you take on too much, you might find it harder to do any individual task well. This can make you feel like you have even more pressure on you.
  • Take breaks and take things slowly. It might be difficult to do this when you're stressed, but it can make you more productive.
  • Address the causes. - Although there will probably lots of things in your life that you can't do anything about, there may be things you can control.
  • Have a strong foundation of self-worth. Build your roots.


  • Try writing down 3 things that went well, or for which you're grateful, at the end of every day.
  • Remove distractions - turn off notifications, leave the phone and emails unanswered - do you think everyone jumps to reply to you?

Book a free Discovery Session to start your adventure to stress free work.

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