What is work place stress?

Many of our patients describe stress as feeling that they are under too much mental or emotional pressure which leads to them feeling like they are unable to cope. The way we react to stress will vary from one person to another, what is stressful for one person may be motivating for another.

Stress can affect how you feel, think, behave and how your body works. Some symptoms that are linked to stress include:

  • Poor sleep health
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling anxious or irritable
  • Low self esteem
  • Constantly worrying or having your thoughts race around
  • Experiencing headaches, muscle pain, or dizziness


So how common is it?

Work related stress, anxiety and depression is extremely common with over 440,000 cases in 2014/2015 alone. It accounts for 35% of work related ill-health and it is therefore a huge area of interest in occupational health. So pretty common …


What is stressing out our workers?

Stress is a very personal thing that can be influenced by a range of factors. Within the work place, the main factors contributing to work place stress, anxiety and depression are:

  1. Tight deadlines and work load pressures
  2. Too much responsibility
  3. Lack of managerial support

When thinking about how to deal and manage work related stress, it is useful to consider the factors which you feel may be contributing to your own levels of stress to see if they can be reduced or changed.


So what can be done?


  • Stress risk assessment

A really good starting point is for you and your manager to open up the lines of communication. If your manager is unaware there is a problem then it is difficult for them to help support you. Also, your manager may have observed some of the above signs and symptoms and may want to talk to you about these.


Employers have a duty of care to provide a safe working environment for their staff and should offer you a stress risk assessment. This will help both of you take a step back look at any work specific factors which may be contributing. A plan can be put together of any reasonable adjustments that can be supported to help you manage the levels of stress you are experiencing. It is always a good idea to meet again 2-4 weeks afterwards to review how things have been since the changes were implemented.


  • Support

Often just talking to someone, whether it is a family member, friend, colleague or GP, can help you understand the reasons for the way you are currently feeling. There are also a range of services available either via your work, GP or as a self-referral. For example, many employers now invest in staff wellbeing and have confidential counselling or employee assistance programmes. There is also counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy services available locally via your GP or as a self-referral. Check out your local IAPT service (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) for more information.


  • Mindfulness apps

The concept of mindfulness is becoming so popular.  This helps you to pay more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve your mental wellbeing. There are some excellent apps now out there, such as Headspace, which are FREE to download and use. Give them a try today!


It is extremely important to recognise that stress can affect any body and you are not alone. It is key to talk to those around you about how you are feeling so that support mechanisms can be put in place.


At Bespoke Physiotherapy, we often see a how stress can impact upon your physical health and well being. We always help our patients recognise any emotional or psychological factors that may be affecting their recovery and ensure we include these in our goal setting and treatment plans.


NB/ This blog piece discusses mild stress, anxiety and depression however, please do seek immediate medical attention should you have feelings and / or plans of self-harm or taking your own life.



Further reading…


Labour Force Survey. Work related stress, anxiety and depression statistics in Great Britain 2014/15 http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress/index.htm


NHS Choices. Stress, anxiety and depressions: Mindfulness.



IAPT Services