What can cause stress at work?
A lot of things can contribute to workplace stress. While mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression are different from workplace stress, unchecked stress can lead to greater mental health and wellbeing issues like these. This is why it’s important to prioritise your wellbeing and take appropriate steps to reduce stress when you’re working.
Here are some examples of stressors at work:
- The demands of your role exceed the time available
- There are inadequate resources available to succeed in your role
- You’re exposed to potentially toxic or traumatic environments
- There is a lack of support from your colleagues or management
- An absence of reward and recognition for contributions
- Your environment is not physically or psychologically safe.
“It’s important to prioritise your wellbeing and take appropriate steps to reduce stress when you’re working.”
Strategies for a less stressful workday
Take regular micro-breaks
Try taking regular micro-breaks every hour or two whenever possible in your line of work. Use this time to stretch, drink water, or step outside for some fresh air. While it’s tempting to work for extended periods and get as much done as possible, working without short breaks can cause stress, limiting productivity.
Get a change of scenery
Give your mind a break by stepping away from your immediate work environment. If you spend most of your day inside sitting down, go for a walk on your lunch break. Or if you are mostly on your feet, you might like to read a book in a park or in a quiet place during your break. Do what works for you, ensuring you can separate your work and personal time.
Plan your time effectively
Taking the time to plan aspects of your week can significantly reduce stress levels. Simple steps such as preparing healthy meals for lunch, ensuring the car has petrol, or organising your work outfits ahead of time can alleviate stress during a busy work week.
Go home on time
Resist the habit of working late regularly. Working long hours each week reduces our time and energy for the things we enjoy, leading to prolonged stress and risk of burnout. While occasional extra hours might be necessary, leaving on time sets clear boundaries and preserves personal time.
Leave work at work
Consider ways to disconnect from work after hours. This could mean switching off your email notifications after hours, not taking extra work home with you, taking off your uniform when you get home, or keeping your tools/equipment in a separate room so they are out of view when relaxing.
If something falls outside your responsibility, or you are swamped and cannot prioritise new requests, it may be time to say no. Explaining your reasons will help the person understand your situation and avoid resentment. You can also suggest alternative solutions or agree to revisit it later.
Looking after your wellbeing is an ongoing process. Don’t hesitate to seek professional support if workplace stresses become too overwhelming. You can reach out to a helpline like SuicideLine Victoria or find out if your organisation has access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
If you are struggling to cope, call one of our SuicideLine Victoria counsellors on 1300 651 251 or click on the floating chat button on the right for online counselling. Our service is open 24/7 and it is free.
If it is an emergency, call 000.