Spotting the signs of work related stress

I have been working in the corporate domain as a counsellor and trainer on wellbeing for over 25 years and almost half of my clients invariably present with issues related to trauma in the workplace. 

The causes of people taking time off work due to poor mental health are complex. A Mental Health UK study reveals that poor working relationships and processes could be pushing people into burnout, with more than one-third of working adults (35%) saying they do not feel comfortable letting their line managers or senior leaders know if they are experiencing high or extreme levels of pressure and stress at work.

The report also showed that almost one in three (31%) said being bullied or intimidated by other colleagues had caused stress in the last year. The survey suggests workplaces could be ill-prepared to support staff experiencing high levels of stress, with nearly half of workers (49%) saying their employer doesn’t have a plan to spot signs of chronic stress and prevent burnout, while a further 22% don’t know if their employer has such a plan in place.

You can identify work related stress signs in many ways. This is because stress hormones are released when we are faced with pressure or feel threatened. Cortisol releases energy and increases alertness, preparing us for fight or flight.  However, when cortisol builds up in the bloodstream the impact is experienced on many levels in the body. 

Physical symptoms of stress include:

  • Raised blood pressure 
  • Raised blood sugar levels
  • Tension and muscular pain
  • Headaches
  • Chest pains
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Digestive problems
  • Nausea 
  • Sexual problems 
  • Lowered immunity 
  • Sleep problems
  • Low energy

 Mental signs of stress can include:

  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Memory problems 
  • Poor judgement 
  • Difficulty in making decisions 
  • Negative thoughts 
  • Thoughts racing 
  • Irrational fears 
  • Excessive worrying. 

Emotionally, a client may share feelings of:

  • Moodiness 
  • Irritability 
  • Lowered self-esteem 
  • Loss of confidence
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Depression
  • Hopelessness
  • Tearfulness 
  • Agitation 
  • Anxiety 
  • Withdrawal from loved ones.  

Finally, there are behavioural indicators of stress. These include:

  • Comfort eating or not eating enough and eating badly
  • Using substances that keep the body in a state of stress such as alcohol, cigarettes and drugs to try and relax
  • Procrastinating
  • Delaying going to bed or napping too much
  • Isolating
  • Snapping at others
  • Anger

Regardless of the indicators you may be displaying, there will be a negative impact on work performance in specific ways such as absenteeism, presenteeism, missing deadlines, apathy, loss of motivation, complaining more about performing tasks, lack of enthusiasm and being difficult with colleagues. And these examples are by no means exhaustive.

According to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974  it is a joint responsibility between the client and their employers to address stress that impacts on work performance. So, if you are a line manager, you need to look for and follow-up on any signs of stress apparent with an employee.

In a lot of cases, the signs may mean that expert guidance is required, and that is where speaking to us helps. We have the expertise and experience to support you.
My book Stress To Success In 28 Days – A Unique Programme For Total Wellbeing contains a wide range of coping techniques that can be easily integrated in your busy, hectic schedule, allowing you to successfully overcome stress and build your resilience for future challenges.

About Hansa Pankhania

Hansa is a Speaker, Corporate Wellbeing Coach and Author of 10 published books for adults and children.

In her books, Stress To Success In 28 Days and Stress To Success Stories, she is passionate about sharing natural wellbeing techniques that are cost-free, and easy-to-implement but nourish your body, mind, and soul in powerful ways. 

Her Chakraji Children’s Relaxation Series passes natural wellbeing tips to primary age children using colourful illustrations. 

She has also published her memoir Best Of Three Worlds about being born in Kenya as a British subject of Indian origin and the fusion of three histories and cultures.

Her latest book – Best Of One World – 60 steps to a sustainable, meaningful and joyful life helps you save money and boost your wellbeing and that of our planet too.

All her books are available through Amazon and her websites.

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Text- +44(0)7888747438