Workplace Stress - the Signs You Should Know

by Harley Therapy
Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Deadlines, big presentations, conflict with colleagues... a certain amount of stress is part of any job. In the right doses, it helps us get things done and stay focussed.

But when is it all too much? What are the red flags about workplace stress you need to be aware of? And what can be done?

When workplace stress is a problem

Often the main sign that workplace stress has become a danger is how we are feeling and acting outside of the office. Our job starts to affect our general wellbeing and even physical health. This can include:

  • sleep problems and/or always tired
  • changes to eating patterns (overeating, undereating)
  • constant flus and colds
  • headaches, stomach aches, chest and back pains
  • mood swings, including angry outbursts and crying
  • overthinking and anxious thoughts
  • substance use like drinking too much alcohol
  • poor self care
  • lack of interest in seeing friends and family
  • troubles concentrating, forgetfulness
  • feeling paranoid and on edge.

Why does workplace stress happen?

In some cases, despite workplace regulations, it's simply that too much is being asked of employees.

Stress can also happen if there is mismanagement. If those in charge are not good at giving clear instructions, are unreasonable with timelines, don’t give feedback or encouragement, and assign the same project to more than one more person, creating confusion? It’s hardly any wonder you’d be stressed.

It can be the workplace environment itself that is stressful. Too many people in one room, too much noise, and not being given the resources to do your job all matter. And things like sexual harassment or workplace bullying are huge stressors.

But sometimes we are simply more stressed than our colleagues doing a similar job. Why is this?

Consider if the following apply:

  • you have taken a job you are not happy in
  • the job is too difficult for your skillset
  • you have other stress in life and it’s affecting you at work
  • your communication skills are making relating to colleagues difficult
  • pre-existing mental health issues are being triggered by the workplace.

Why does workplace stress matter?

Ongoing workplace stress is very hard on your health and your personal relationships. And it can evolve into serious mental health issues including depression, anxiety and anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, low self-esteem an eating disorders. In extreme cases, especially if there is harassment or bullying, you can even end up with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or have a nervous breakdown.

What is the best treatment for workplace stress?

The good part about stress is that it has a root cause. And when we know the root cause, we can take actions to find solutions.

Often this means talking to human resources or your supervisor and reporting any practical issues like bullying, harrassment, and misamangement.

Of course this can be a tremendously stressful thing, particularly if you are uncomfortable speaking up. And even if you do receive help from human resources, there is still the emotional and mental impact of the stress to navigate.

This is why many people seek the support of a counsellor or psychotherapist when it comes to workplace stress.

A therapist can help you find strategies for managing your stress and can support you in taking any required action. If the truth is it's time to move on, he or she can even help you take steps to find a better job.

Note that it's a case of 'the sooner the better' when it comes to seeking help with workplace stress. The faster you have some support, the less likely you are to make decisions you regret, or to let your stress spiral into a more difficult to treat mental health diagnosis.

Is workplace stress getting you down? Why not book a session now and have a chat about it with one of our therapists? It's entirely confidential. Book now and be talking to someone as soon as tomorrow.

Need a Therapy Session ASAP?

Here's who's next available...

See other available therapists ›
Are you a therapist?
Apply to be on the platform  ›