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Techniques to Combat Stress & Anxiety at Work

by Will Bridges(more info)

listed in stress, originally published in issue 242 - November 2017

Work-related stress and anxiety is something many of us will have experienced at some point in our careers. Whether it’s due to an impending deadline, a heavy workload or workplace tensions, stress and anxiety can have a profound effect on our health and mental wellbeing. While severe stress, anxiety or depression will require professional help, there are a variety of methods to deal with the more manageable day-to-day symptoms.       

Employee benefits provider, Unum has created the following infographic which explores techniques to overcome workplace stress and anxiety, however most of the principles can be applied to all aspects of life.


Over recent years, the practice of mindfulness has become a go-to method to overcome anxiety, as its practice requires the individual to focus their attention on the present in order to move past their anxious thoughts. Individuals are encouraged to acknowledge their worries, but to then let them go. This method can help you to move past the anxious or stressful situation, while acknowledging how and why you have felt like this. This technique can often be partnered with trying Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which can be done either alone, guided by relevant tools and materials, or by seeing a therapist. The principles of CBT can often aid the individual in changing how they think, and showing how our thoughts and actions are linked.

Similarly, jotting down notes about why you are feeling worried or anxious and setting time aside to look over these notes later in the day can be helpful. This ‘worry time’ will allow you to think about the issues; however by the time you get round to this point in the day it’s likely you will no longer be feeling this way. For many people, these methods of monitoring and acknowledging anxious thoughts can be a good way to keep track of how they’re feeling and what is causing these feelings, thus recognizing any patterns and potentially overcoming them.

Other more physical ways of getting rid of stress while at work include taking a short break to make a cup of tea or just get away from your desk for a few minutes, and taking deep breaths. Concentrating on slowly inhaling or exhaling for a minute or two will help release tension from your body. Additionally, some individuals might even find performing muscle relaxing exercises reduces the amount of tension in their bodies. This can be done by tensing a group of muscles as you breath in, and then relaxing them on the out breath. While it might not work first time, with practice this technique can become an effective form of stress release.

Our language can also be key to combating stress and anxiety, and replacing negative words or thoughts with positive self-talk can be highly beneficial. Repeating phrases such as “I will be ok” or “this feeling will pass” can provide reassurance and stress relief. Additionally, many of us have a habit of being self-critical, but rather than beating yourself up about a work-related issue, try to treat yourself as you would your best friend. After all, most of us have a propensity to be much kinder to others than we are ourselves.

Although stress and anxiety can be very personal issues, many employers are beginning to promote issues relating to these topics, and as such your workplace may have schemes in place to help out.  If you find work is getting you down, becoming too stressful, or is causing you anxiety, it’s important to talk about it, either with loved ones or, if you feel comfortable, with your employer. Just remember never to suffer in silence.


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About Will Bridges

Will Bridges is an HR Consultant at Unum, a leading employee benefits provider. Will is passionate about health, fitness and mental wellbeing. Unum's products help protect millions of working people and their families in the event of an illness or injury. Visit them online at:

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