anxiety at work

More working days are lost to stress in the UK than any other ill-health reason. The Health and Safety executive report reveals that workers take a total of 11.7 million days off each year due to stress, depression or anxiety.

It is estimated that the total cost to the economy of lost working days through stress could be as high as £6.5 billion each year, and stress-related illnesses are also one of the most common reasons that policyholders claim on our income protection insurance.

In our guide we outline ten tips to help you to reduce your work stress level. For more insight on the signs of excessive workplace stress, read our blog on the causes of stress at work.

6 signs that you might be experiencing workplace stress and anxiety at work

There are a number of ways that excessive workplace stress can manifest itself. These include:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Problems with your sleep
  • Feeling anxious or depressed
  • Tiredness
  • Headaches and muscle tension
  • Loss of interest in both work and social activities

If one or more of these symptoms apply to you, don’t deal with stress at work, you need to take action. Keep reading for ten tips to reduce your work stress and anxiety.

1. Regain control of your work by being more organised

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of work, you can start by taking practical steps to reduce your stress level.

Sometimes just choosing to say ‘no’ to a request can help. Your line manager may not realise that you are struggling to cope and easing your workload may have a hugely positive effect. In addition, exercising self-control will be perceived by your colleagues as a strength, leading to improved working relationships.

Make sure you prioritise your important tasks, and put the least important to the bottom of the pile – or get rid of them completely.

Good time management can also help you to reduce stress and anxiety. Leaving ten minutes earlier in the morning can reduce the stress of being late, and can help you ease into your day. Regular breaks actually help you to be more productive – not less – while making sure you find a balance between work and family life can also help you to avoid burnout.

2. Talk to someone

One of the most effective ways of reducing stress and anxiety is to talk to someone. Sharing your issues and having someone listen can help you to stay calm. There are a number of people you can turn to:

  • Co-workers – support at work can help you to reduce anxiety you feel in your job. Engage with co-workers during breaks and you may find that letting off a bit of steam works wonders. Don’t forget that sometimes you will have to play the role of the ‘listener’ if a colleague is having problems of their own.
  • Friends and family – ensuring that you have regular social contact means you have people to share your concerns with. If you are lonely and you don’t have supportive friends, it is easy to be stressed and anxious.
  • New friends – if you don’t feel that you have a support network who can help you manage your stress, make new friends. Join a club, head to a ‘meet-up’ group or volunteer your time. You will build up a group of people you can turn to.

3. Sleep well, eat well, feel well

To reduce work stress, make lifestyle improvements outside the office. Take three steps: sleep well, eat well, and exercise to feel well. 

  • Sleeping well helps emotional balance, focus, and creativity.
  • Eating better improves mood and energy, avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and trans fats.
  • Exercise lifts mood and energy and helps stay calm. 

These small changes positively impact health, sleep, and mood, making you better equipped to cope with work stress.

4. Cultivate a positive work environment:

Create positive relationships with your colleagues, take breaks together, and celebrate each other’s successes. This can help to reduce stress and create a more supportive work environment.

5. Take breaks:

Taking breaks is something so small but something we all don’t realise. Taking regular breaks throughout the day can help to reduce stress and understand how switching off from work can increase productivity. Going for a walk, stretching, or simply taking a few deep breaths is very overlooked but can do wonders for clearing your mind.

6. Use relaxation techniques:

Try techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation to help calm your mind and reduce stress.

7. Get regular exercise:

Doing regular physical activity can help to reduce stress, improve mood, and increase energy levels. Try at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise for a few days a week and build it up when you feel more comfortable.

8. Maintain a healthy diet:

Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help to reduce stress and improve overall health. Try to avoid caffeine and sugar, which can actually increase feelings of anxiety and stress.

9. Set boundaries:

Learn to say no to tasks that are beyond your capacity or that will cause undue stress, we know it may seem small but for most of us, it’s very hard to do. Communicate your boundaries and expectations clearly to your coworkers and supervisors.

10. Organise your workspace:

A cluttered and disorganised workspace can cause stress and make it difficult to focus. Take some time to declutter your workspace and create a more organised environment that promotes productivity.

Ultimately, reducing your worrying about work stress is important for our mental and physical well-being, and it can do wonders for our productivity and happiness. By implementing some of these steps like as setting boundaries, taking breaks, practising mindfulness, and seeking support, we can better manage stress at work and enjoy a more balanced and fulfilling life. 

Remember, it’s okay to take care of yourself, and in fact, it’s necessary for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Take the time to prioritise your well-being, and you’ll feel the benefits in both your personal and professional life. On the other hand, if your current job is having too great an effect on your stress and anxiety you may want to consider a career change, read our guide for more information.