How to Manage Stress in the Workplace

Posted on Monday, October 4, 2021 by The Office Zen MasterNo comments

It’s difficult to quantify, as many feel unable to share the truth, but stress at work is an enormous problem. It impacts the individual, their colleagues, and the employer as a whole. According to the Labour Force Survey, 17.9 million working days were lost in 2019/20 due to work-related stress, depression, or anxiety.

Workplace stress has different causes, but lack of support, autonomy, and resources, as well as long hours, unreasonable workloads, and poor relationships, can all be triggers.

How can you tell if you’re suffering from workplace stress?

The symptoms vary for everyone, but the most common signs that you could be suffering from stress include:

  • Behavioural changes, e.g. irritability
  • Fatigue, tiredness, and insomnia
  • Low mood
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion and IBS
  • Backache
  • Addiction problems
  • Reduced productivity
  • Increased sickness absence rate

Speaking to your GP will help you determine if your symptoms are stress-related. If they are, what can you do on a daily basis to improve how you feel? Here are some of our top tips for managing stress at work.

Tips for managing stress in the workplace:

  1. Sleep well and wake well

    Prioritise your sleep and establish a good morning routine that doesn’t feel rushed. If possible, incorporate some relaxation into this time, such as a relaxing shower, meditation, or a yoga routine.

  2. Leave work at work

    This may be incredibly difficult to do, but one of the reasons that workplace stress has become so endemic is because we are unable to switch off the way we once were, before smartphones. Try to put up strict boundaries for when you will stop receiving notifications on your phone, and finish working well before trying to sleep.

  3. Make time for breaks

    We all have our own unique stress threshold. You need to know when you are reaching yours and step away. Go for a short walk or meditate. Have your coffee away from your desk. Drink plenty of water—it’ll bring natural bathroom breaks with it.

  4. Make healthy choices

    From ensuring you get plenty of natural daylight to lift your mood, to eating a proper lunch instead of just junk food, you can support your wellness with healthy choices. Your diet is a source of good energy and feeling as well as you can physically. Steer clear of caffeine, particularly after lunch.

  5. Move

    Back when we were living in caves, we had beasts out to get us. As such, our stress response is designed to make us move—to run! When we don’t, stress can’t be released and it sits with us instead. Regular exercise, even a simple walk, can help reduce tension and eliminate the stress that builds up in your body.

  6. Be firm but fair with your boundaries

    Be realistic about what you can actually do and be clear about your boundaries with your boss and colleagues. If you’re struggling to do this due to bullying or other poor workplace behaviour, then try to find allies in HR, occupational health, or other managers. Prioritise and organise.

  7. Avoid conflict and build positive relationships

    Step away from conflict and learn conflict management and negotiation skills, whilst also building positive relationships to create a support squad at work. 

We know that reducing workplace stress can be difficult. There’s no instant fix and it’ll take time. If you are able to, talking to your employer can help. However, if this isn’t possible then it might be necessary to move on to a happier and healthier workplace.


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