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Key Drivers of Stress at Work

Key Drivers of Stress at Work

Key Drivers of Stress at Work

In the workplace, there are several key drivers of stress. Work-related stress is very common. Obviously, when levels become too high, they can affect both your physical and mental health. As a result, it is the main cause of sick days in the UK. In fact, the number of self-reported cases is rising each year.

Several reported key drivers of stress for example are:

  • Heavy workloads
  • Lack of job security
  • Too much pressure
  • Tight deadlines

For that reason, anyone can be affected, regardless of work position. However, several tools and methods can help manage it better.

What is Stress?

It’s the body’s response to mental, physical, and emotional pressures. However, the key drivers of stress and the symptoms can differ for everyone. In addition, we will all experience some levels at a point in our lives. Therefore, finding out what increases tension is important. Likewise, so is identifying ways to manage it. Both are essential for taking care your wellbeing.

It occurs when our body produces specific hormones. In other words, our fight or flight responses are activated. However short-term benefits can include:

  • Improving cognitive function
  • Increased focus levels
  • Overall improvements in efficiency and productivity.

Continuous exposure to stress, however, can negatively impact your physical health and mental wellbeing.

Are Stress and Anxiety the Same?

Although often talked about together, they are different. Stress is the body’s response to threatening situations and external pressures. However, anxiety is caused by fears and worries, which results in feeling uneasy.

Some stress hormones include:

  • Adrenaline

When we feel threatened, adrenaline is released from the adrenal glands. Adrenaline is part of our ‘fight or flight’ response. It is responsible for our immediate responses to these situations.

  • Norepinephrine

Norepinephrine is like adrenaline and is released quickly during threatening situations.

  • Cortisol 

Cortisol is a type of steroid hormone. It responds slower than adrenaline and norepinephrine to threatening situations.

What Are the Causes at Work?

Understandably, the key drivers of stress in the workplace can be a result of several factors. In addition, it can be different for everyone. The key drivers for stress in the workplace include:

  • Big changes.
  • Being under pressure.
  • Having no control.
  • Times of uncertainty.
  • Tight deadlines.
  • No support from colleagues or managers.
  • Heavy workloads.
  • Little opportunity for career development.
  • Low wages.
  • Lack of job security.

Symptoms of Stress

Feeling stressed for long periods can have a negative effect on both your mental and physical health. There are many ways that symptoms may present themselves. Equally important they can differ for everyone. Below are just a few to consider:

Physical Symptoms

  • Headaches/migraines
  • Muscle tension/aches
  • Fatigue
  • Clenched jaw/grinding teeth
  • Frequent illness
  • High blood pressure
  • Trouble sleeping

Behavioural Symptoms

  • Easily frustrated
  • Increased levels of anxiety
  • Appetite changes
  • Avoiding responsibility
  • Nervous behaviours (for example, nail-biting or fidgeting)
  • Unable to relax
  • Increased irritability

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Forgetfulness
  • Unable to focus
  • Worrying
  • Disorganised
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Low mood

Can stress be avoided?

Not all causes can be avoided, as every person handles it in different ways. As a result, you will need to identify what methods work best for you to help reduce stress.

Ways to Manage Stress

There are numerous ways to manage it. Everyone manages it in different ways as well. It’s important to identify what works best for you.
Here are seven ways to help get you started:

Get Active

Exercise is especially a great way to help reduce feelings of tension. Even if this is simply going for a walk or 10 minutes stretching at home. In addition, exercising has been found to boost endorphins. Which results in a reduction in stress-related hormones like cortisol. Therefore it is essential for both your mental and physical health.

Gain Control

Undoubtedly, we can’t control everything. However, setting your daily tasks is something you can control. Plan your days to keep on track. Equally important make sure you schedule a time to relax. Write down anything causing you to feel negative. Process each one and figure out if there is something you can do to change it.


Talking to family, friends, or even yourself is an excellent way of reducing frustration. Sometimes getting everything off your chest gives you a feeling of release. In addition, social support is important in helping you get through challenging situations. If you’re struggling, make a self-referral to a therapist or counsellor.

Write it Down

Besides talking, sometimes just writing everything down can create a feeling of relief. Writing down your thoughts and feelings helps you to identify and gain control of your emotions. For that reason try writing in a journal every day. You could write a rant or a note to yourself or even a gratitude list.

Self Care

For your overall wellbeing, it is so important to look after yourself. Self-care involves anything that makes you feel good. By taking time to look after yourself, you are distancing yourself from the things that are causing you to feel negative. A few ideas of self-care may include for example:

  • Reading a book
  • Taking a warm bath
  • Going on a walk
  • Practicing meditation
  • Gratitude

Gratitude is an excellent tool for stress relief. Anytime you’re feeling tense or becoming distressed, think of five things you are grateful for. Practicing gratitude is a great way to control your emotions. It also helps you develop a positive mindset.

Breathing Exercises

Stress can result in increased heart rate and blood pressure. Breathing exercises are an effective way to bring your heart rate and blood pressure back down. Without a doubt, it is a great time to use breathing exercises as soon as you feel tense.

  • Get yourself into a comfortable position.
  • For the count of 3, breathe in through your nose.
  • Breathe slowly through your mouth for the count of 5.
  • Repeat the above steps until you feel more relaxed and calmer.

How to Deal With Stress at Work

Importantly it’s is the leading cause of sick days in the UK and impacts both staff and employers. It needs to be effectively managed within the workplace to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity. Here are a few tips for creating a healthy work-life:

Create Boundaries

Wherever possible, keep work and home separate. You may feel you have to be available all the time. Try to create boundaries between work and home life. Remember, it’s okay to say no if you are struggling to cope.  When working from home, this can be difficult.  If possible try and set up where you work in a separate part of the home from where you relax.

Know Your Stressors

Keep a note of your triggers, as well as your responses to them. It allows you to manage how you are feeling better. It also allows you to regain control of your emotions and how you respond to them. The key is to identify what methods work best for you.

Seek Support

Talking to someone can create a great feeling of relief when you are struggling Keeping things bottled up can only make things worse. Try talking to someone you trust:

  • It could be talking to a family member or friend.
  • Talk to your manager at work and develop a plan to help reduce stress in the workplace.
  • If you’re struggling, and nothing is helping, you could contact a counsellor or therapist.

Seeking Help for Stress

If nothing seems to be working to help reduce your stress levels, then make sure to find the help you need.

  • Call your doctor and make an appointment. 
  • Arrange to see a therapist or counsellor. We have qualified therapists and counsellors who are here to support you. Contact us now for further support.

Further Contacts

  • The Samaritans for 24-hour support
  • For out of hours, contact 111 – they are here to get you the help you need.


What Are the 5 Main Causes of Stress?

A major cause is high levels of pressure. In addition, to pressure,  it is also about not feeling in control of a situation. Other causes may be during:

  • Times of uncertainty
  • Significant changes
  • Feeling overwhelmed

What Are the Signs of Stress at Work?

Some signs may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Getting ill more often
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Increased irritability
  • Losing focus

What Can Too Much Stress Lead To?

Long-term stress can lead to physical and mental health problems. Such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart rhythms

How Can I Stop Stressing?

  • Exercising
  • Talking about it
  • Writing it down
  • Practicing breathing exercises
  • Self-care

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