Managing stress in the workplace

Stress in any area of life is exhausting, but work-related stress can especially take its toll, as it often seems like the elements of work causing pressure are out of your control.

It usually occurs when someone feels that their workload is too intense or demanding and can impact everything from performance to relationships with co-workers and even personal health.

Aside from an employer’s responsibility to look after staff wellbeing, it’s a smart business move to put measures in place to manage stress in the workplace. Studies have shown that stress in the workplace increases the number of sick days among employees, reduced productivity and less engagement from staff. In fact, 17 million working days were lost to stress, depression, and anxiety alone in the UK in 2021/22 (Health and Safety Executive).

Understanding more about workplace stress and the best ways to manage it can help to prevent employee burnout and other issues. Here are a few things that can help:


Recognising the signs of occupational stress

There are often some tell-tale signs of work stress, whether you’re experiencing it yourself or noticing changes in a co-worker. Common emotional symptoms include irritability, withdrawal, and a lack of confidence. You might find that you or a colleague are easily distracted, tired and have lost motivation for a role that used to bring excitement. It can even lead to temper outbursts, uncharacteristic errors in work and shying away from socialising.

Getting support

If you’re experiencing work related stress, it’s important to seek help. Speak to your manager, if you have one, and explain how you’re feeling. They’ll be able to discuss your workload with you, help you to see where the issues lie and create an action plan to navigate the problem. Sometimes just talking it through can make everything seem much more manageable.

If you’re a freelancer or in charge of your own workload, take a close look into how you tend to tackle jobs. Are you taking on too much at once? Does your time management need work? Are you forgetting to set boundaries and realistic expectations with your clients? These are all areas that can cause stress levels to increase when left unchecked. However, if you still feel like you are struggling, there are plenty of resources and people to speak to who are able to help (we’ve popped a couple of links below)

And lastly, if you notice a colleague who seems like they are suffering with workplace stress, be sure to reach out to them and offer your support. Invite them for a coffee or a walk and open up that conversation.

Managing work related stress

Realistically almost everyone’s job is stressful at times. Therefore, it’s handy to practise some techniques to prevent those feelings building up to a breaking point. Next time you’re feeling the pressure at work, try out these tips:

  1. Step away from your desk and get outside – Not only does a brisk lunchtime walk get you away from the temptation to check Teams messages or get in some extra admin, but it can release endorphins, reducing stress hormones and helps improve your overall mood (NHS).
  2. Avoid multitasking – Splitting your focus between tasks is a sure-fire way to waste time and reduce the quality of work. Instead, try time blocking to stay on top of jobs.
  3. Practise mindfulness – Mindfulness is the practise of purposely bringing your attention back to the present moment, which can help to promote calmness and a positive mindset – perfect for those of us that find it difficult to switch off. Check out the Mindfulness Meditation Podcast for more tips.
  4. Make time for hobbies – Developing skills and interests outside of work can be a great way to create work-life balance and provides a helpful distraction from work stress.
  5. Reward yourself – Reward yourself for the work you’ve completed instead of immediately focusing on the next job. For instance, take a quick break, chat to a co-worker or treat yourself to a coffee and a slice of cake from the Clubhouse.
  6. Take time to unwind – Develop some end-of-the-day habits to help you switch off from work, whether it’s creating a to-do list for the next day, listening to a podcast on the commute home, or tidying up your workspace.
  7. Use your holidays – Take the holiday you’re entitled to and spend it resting or doing an activity you enjoy. The chances are, you’ll come back feeling refreshed and ready to go.

At Adapt, there are plenty of ways to practise these handy stress busters. Head out on walk around Uxbridge, join one of the free monthly mindfulness sessions, or grab a coffee from The Clubhouse.


If you are suffering with stress there are plenty of resources out there to help, from online information packs to help lines and charities that you can get in touch with, including…