Managing stress at work

Posted on October 13, 2015 by Brynna Gabrielson

Managing stress at workIt's likely that you've experienced stress at some point in your career. Stress is a growing issue, with more people experiencing it each year. In fact, the 2015 CIPD/Simplyhealth Absence Management survey found that two-fifths of organisations reported an increase in stress related absence.

Stress is an issue that should not be ignored. It can have a detrimental impact on our health, leading to multiple problems such as depression, weight issues, skin conditions, heart conditions, and sleep problems - to name a few1. More concerning, those who grapple with stress may have a harder time recovering from such issues2.

Stress is how we react to mental and emotional pressure, and while it can be difficult to remove pressures from our lives, it's important that we learn ways to manage them. For many, problems with stress stem from the workplace, so we've put together the below suggestions to help you cope with stress at work.

Get organised

In the 2015 CIPD/Simplyhealth Absence Management survey, Workloads/Volumes of work was named as the top workplace stressor. If you find yourself struggling with an overwhelming workload it can be a good idea to take a step back and get organised. It will help you both focus and put your workload into perspective. Making lists can be helpful, and instead of tracking just the overarching projects, it can be a good idea to break them down into smaller tasks. This way you'll have a better view of what needs to be done, and will be able to keep track of how far you've come. It's a simple process that may help you feel more in control.

Managing stress at work - CIPD


For many of us there's a sense of protectiveness when it comes to our workloads. We feel that we're the best equipped to complete tasks, so instead of asking others to help, we take on too much. Learning to let go of these tasks and delegate can have a great impact on reducing workloads and thus stress levels. It doesn't mean you have to let go of everything, but it does mean that you'll be able to free up time to focus on more important activities.

Talk to your manager

There's nothing worse than suffering in silence. If you're being given too much work and are unable to cope with unrealistic demands, or if there are other issues going on at work, it's a good idea to let your manager know. They may be able to reduce your workload or provide help. And it's better to let them know now then waiting until it's too late.

Avoid perfectionism

We all want to hand in the best work we possibly can, but at the end of the day obsessing over the quality of what you're putting out will only cause you more stress.  If you set yourself standards that are too high, and likely unachievable then you will continuously struggle to reach them. Not only will it cause you more stress and anxiety, but it may also do damage to your self-worth3.

Give 'no' a chance

It may seem like a good idea to say yes to every single thing asked of you at work, but taking on more than you can handle won't do anyone any favours. If you're in the position where you can say 'no', or even just 'not right now' then give it a chance.

Take care of yourself

Being in poor health isn't going to do you any favours when it comes to coping with stress at work.  In addition to struggling with your workloads you don't want to be struggling with illness as well. To stay healthy, make sure to eat well - avoid processed foods packed with sugar - and get enough sleep each night. Exercise is also great for staying healthy, and as an added bonus, if you're already experiencing stress exercise is a great way to cope with it. You can find out more by reading this article.


1. Help Guide: Stress symptoms, signs and causes
2. APA: How stress affects your health
3. AnxietyBC: How to overcome perfectionism (PDF)