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Work & Stress: Managing It And When To Get Help

Posted by Mike Delaney
on 23 May 2022

You don’t need to be an airline pilot, brain surgeon or oil rigger to feel stressed out at work. Most people have experienced work-related stress at some point in their lives, even if they love what they do. It’s when daily exposure to stressful situations, environments and people begins to take its toll that you might consider asking for medical assistance. Chronic work-related stress (work burnout) can have profound psychological and physical effects on your body and lead to a range of mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.  

Work and stress can also often be an underlying factor in alcohol addiction and drug addiction. At Delamere, we not only help people to overcome the mental and physical symptoms of work-related stress; our therapists also tackle any addictive behaviours that may be troubling you. Our state-of-the-art rural wellness retreat is the ideal place to recover, understand what is triggering your stress and develop tools to manage it. Here is some advice on how to manage stress at work and when to get help.  

What causes work burnout? 

There are so many factors that can cause work burnout symptoms, ranging from the culture of your organisation to job insecurity. How well people cope with stress depends on multiple variables, such as age, skills and experience. The UK Government’s Health and Safety Executive has identified six main areas that lead to stress if they aren’t managed properly. These are demands, control, support, relationships, role and change. (1).  

Demands – long hours, heavy workload, tight deadlines  

Control – lack of autonomy, inadequate working environment and resources 

Support – discrimination, bad management practices, job insecurity 

Relationships – toxic culture, poor relationships, harassment 

Role – boring work, poorly defined role, insufficient skills  

Change – change of duties, organisational change  

The pandemic has also been a major contributor to stress in the workplace, forcing many organisations to review their health and well-being policies. A recent survey showed COVID-19 is still having a huge impact on employee health with long COVID now a major cause of long-term absence (2).  

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Managing stress at work 

There are many different strategies for managing stress in the workplace. It is important that employers create a supportive work culture, provide clear channels for stressed out staff to get help and develop the people management skills of senior staff. As well as organisational interventions, there are a variety of personal interventions that employees can implement outside of work to help reduce work-related stress.  

Keep a stress journal 

Start to write down occasions at work where you have felt particularly stressed. Keep a note of the location, time, people involved and your thoughts and feelings. This will help you to identify the triggers of your stress and process your emotions. At Delamere, we use journaling as part of our residential rehab programmes to help people who are stressed at work and want to develop long-term coping strategies.  

Don’t self-medicate 

It’s very common when people are stressed at work for them to reach for alcohol, tobacco or drugs. While we think having a few drinks will relax us, in reality it fuels anxiety and depression making us feel worse. Living a healthy lifestyle can help both body and mind deal with the stresses of work and help us cope better. Try to increase the amount of exercise you do. Make time for relaxing activities – such as reading or taking a bath – and aim for nine hours of sleep every night. 

Achieve good work-life balance 

Almost half a million people in the UK complain of work-related stress, depression or anxiety that makes them ill (3). As more people now work from home it can be difficult to achieve a good work-life balance. Remote working should be treated in the same way as a day in the office with regular breaks, a scheduled lunchtime and definite cut-off point. Try not to answer emails outside of your set working hours and have a break from screen time in the evening.    

Take time to relax 

With many destinations shut or inaccessible, the pandemic also meant people didn’t take their usual holiday entitlement. Taking a break from talking and thinking about work is so important for your mental health. As well as physically being away from work, learning how to relax is a good strategy for coping with work burnout. At Delamere, we use different relaxation techniques to help people overcome the symptoms of work-related stress. This includes meditation and mindfulness, yoga and breathwork all guided by holistic therapists at our wellness retreat.  

Improve your working environment 

Make your workspace a positive place to be. This is easier said than done if you’re a healthcare worker or fire fighter, but if you sit at a desk all day there are ways you can improve your surroundings to boost your mood. Plants help to improve air quality and have a calming effect on the mind. While studies show natural daylight can increase serotonin levels and help to reduce stress. You can also choose screensavers or bring in photographs that remind you good times, places and people.  

Talk to friends and colleagues  

If you know the reasons for your work-related stress, it’s time to talk to someone. You might not feel ready to speak to your boss, but you could tell a colleague who may be able to help you in stressful situations or support you around the triggers for your stress. Not all problems are so easily managed and that’s when counselling with mental health professionals could be a good option for you. At Delamere, we have a team of psychotherapists who are experienced at dealing with all kinds of work burnout and its related symptoms.  

How can Delamere help with managing work stress?  

Delamere offers a wide variety of residential rehab programmes to help people manage the symptoms of work-related stress, from mental health problems to alcohol and drug addiction. Our tranquil retreat beside Delamere forest offers the ideal backdrop for a range of therapeutic treatments delivered by our multidisciplinary team of nurses, doctors and qualified psychotherapists.  

We help our guests to pinpoint what people, situations and circumstances are making them feel unable to cope and develop strategies for managing stress in the workplace. Using our unique three-step approach, we can support you during your time in residence with us and with 12-months’ aftercare when you feel ready to return to work.  

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1. https://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/causes.htm.

2. https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/health-wellbeing-work-report-2022_tcm18-108440.pdf.  

3. Health and Safety Executive Work Related Stress, Anxiety and Depression Statistics in Great Britain 2015. HSE, 2015.  

About the author: Mike Delaney

Mike crafted our innovative and person centred approach to addiction treatment. Mike’s experience in the addiction treatment sector encompasses his work as a nurse, psychotherapist and Chief Executive.

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