How to Manage Stress at Work

Five helpful tips to help manage stress and prevent burnout at work.

Five helpful tips to help manage stress and prevent burnout at work.

In today’s society, where technology has a 24/7 influence and the demands on managing modern life are high, stress has become more prevalent than ever.

The Health and Safety Executive reported that in 2020/21, 17.9 million working days were lost in the U.K. due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety, with an average of 21.6 days lost per case. Following a lengthy period of lockdowns during the Pandemic and a deepening economic crisis employment lawyer, Vanessa Latham, says that she expects to see work-related stress claims related to redundancies and burnout increase.

Stress can manifest itself in different ways, with common symptoms including feeling one or more of the following:

  • irritable, aggressive or impatient
  • overburdened
  • anxious, nervous or afraid like your thoughts are racing and you can't switch off
  • unable to enjoy yourself
  • like you've lost your sense of humour
  • worried about your health

In most cases, it may not be possible to directly control the factors impacting stress at work—and that’s probably one of the reasons it’s there in the first place. But by viewing stress through a more positive lens and taking some constructive steps to help yourself, it is possible to manage it.

1. Remember to breathe

There are many breathing techniques to help relax and control the physical symptoms of stress. The good news is you already have the skill to attempt any one of them. A simple 'breathe in, breathe out' exercise for a few minutes each day or during an episode of stress can have significant calming effects if practiced regularly.

2. Connect with people

Under stress, it can be tempting to keep your head down and become isolated from interacting with others, perhaps for fear of being judged negatively for sharing how you feel. Instead, engaging with others can be a welcome distraction. In fact, human connection can have a significantly positive impact on relieving the symptoms of stress.

3. Drive a healthy mind with a healthy body

Studies show that an increase in physical activity can positively impact stress levels. Higher levels of activity can release endorphins that boost your mood and help to cope with stress.

Try to set aside some time each week to build some form of exercise into your schedule. If you feel guilt or apprehension about leaving the office to go for a run or to a gym class, you may even want to let your team know your intended plans.


4. Reframe negative thinking

When you are feeling under pressure, try keeping a journal or a note of the negative thoughts or stories your mind is telling you. You are the author of these stories, and if you don’t like the narrative or how it makes you feel, you can change it.

For example, if you are worrying about how badly your boss will view you if you fail to complete a project on time, try telling yourself how well you will be viewed and how good you will feel when you do complete the project.

5. Create headspace through organisation

When work is stressful, it is common to feel out of control. So, focus only on what you can control, and punctuate your day with some structure. You can do this by:

  • Creating a daily to-do list
  • Taking regular breaks
  • Eating lunch
  • Having time away from your desk to recharge

Like most things in life, these tips take focus and practice. To be truly impactful, they should be embedded into your routine. The next time you feel stressed, try just two or three of these tips and notice the positive impact on your mood.

All content found herein was created for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice from your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.