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Managing stress at work

How can you make the working day less stressful?

The 2020 CIPD Health and Wellbeing report showed that stress is one of the main causes of long-term absence and is the third highest cause of short-term absence after minor illnesses and musculoskeletal injuries. More than a third (37%) of respondents said that stress-related absence has increased over the past year.

The Health and Safety Executive highlights six causes of stress at work;

  • The demands of the job

  • The control an employee has over their work

  • The support they receive from managers and colleagues

  • Relationships in the workplace

  • Employee’s role

  • Organisational change and how it’s managed

In addition to this we have our own significant life events to deal with, such as job changes, finances, health issues etc. Add on top discrimination faced by marginalised groups in the workplace and distressing world events, can mean stress levels become overwhelming. It’s important to understand that people’s experiences of stress are not universal, we all have different levels of resilience and ways of coping.

Starting the conversation with your colleagues and understanding how to identify the signs of stress, is an important first step to preventing work-related stress.

Tips for managing work-related stress

  • Try identify what’s making you feel stressed and what helps you work better (writing in a journal can help you to identify triggers for stress).

  • Create a support network by developing good relationships with your colleagues.

  • Take steps to better manage your time.

  • Say no if you cannot take on extra work or responsibility and set clear boundaries.

  • Take a walk or get some fresh air during your breaks to release stress at work – both exercise and spending time outdoors are good for your mental and physical health.

  • Work regular hours and take the breaks and holidays you're entitled to.

  • Maintain a healthy work-life balance.

  • Accept the things you can’t change and concentrate on the things you have control over.

  • Develop a positive thinking style – think about how you could look at a work issues differently or discuss it with a colleague.

Mental Health First Aid England have put together some useful resources on how you can address your stress:


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The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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