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Work-related stress

3-minute read

Stress is something everybody experiences at some time or another. But if you have too much stress at work, it can affect you both professionally and personally. You don’t need to suffer in silence, and there are many organisations and programs that can help.

What is work-related stress?

Many people feel stressed if there’s a mismatch between what’s expected of them at work and what they’re able to do. This means the pressure they feel under is too great, and it can be hard for them to perform their job.

Workplace stress affects everybody. It can affect employees' family life, their relationships outside of work and their work-life balance.

It also affects employers and is estimated to cost Australian businesses $10 billion a year in lost productivity and sick days. It’s a matter of workplace health and safety, and it’s in an employer’s best interest to help to reduce its effects.

Causes of work-related stress

There are many reasons why your work might be making you feel stressed, such as long hours, a heavy workload and conflict in the workplace.

Your work environment can create work-related stress. It can be made worse if you don’t have a positive and supportive workplace. If your workplace does not understand and is not supportive of employees with mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, or anxiety-related disorders, they might feel discriminated against.

Some of the signs of work-related stress include:

  • symptoms of panic attacks, such as rapid heartbeat or chest pain
  • feeling tense and edgy at work
  • being late all the time
  • not wanting to participate in meetings or staff events
  • not being able to concentrate and feeling distracted
  • getting upset or angry easily
  • not being able to complete work and feeling overwhelmed
  • distancing themselves from other people at work and at home.

How to deal with stress at work

Some ways to help manage work-related stress include:

  • not taking on too many stressful things at once
  • talking to somebody you trust in your personal or professional life
  • trying some new relaxation techniques, such as meditation or mindfulness
  • recognising when you need some space from work and cutting down your hours
  • taking regular holidays and making time for things you enjoy, such as family hobbies or sport
  • asking your doctor or health professional for help or tips
  • talking to your employer
  • contacting a professional organisation such as Heads Up, Black Dog Institute or SANE Australia for advice.

If you’re an employer, tools such as Mindful Employer can teach you skills to support employees who have a mental illness, and can help facilitate mental health awareness training in the workplace.

Where to get help

Dealing with stress at work can be hard, but it is easier if you seek help. Talk to your doctor, or see below for online programs and tools that can help you.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: October 2017

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