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The Stress of White Collar Workers

By Jacqui Beasley
Rehabilitation Consultant

Stressed out! Overwhelmed! Exhausted!

Work-related stress is one of the biggest health and safety challenges that we face the world over and is defined as a harmful reaction that people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work.


“Work-related stress is experienced when the demands of the work environment exceed the workers’ ability to cope with them” (European Agency for Safety and Health at Work)


  • Stress is the second most frequently reported work-related health problem
  • Stress affects one in five of the working population from the newest recruit to the board of directors.
  • Over 105 million days are lost to stress each year – costing UK employers £1.24 billion

(Source Health and Safety Executive)

Given these statistics, it’s important for businesses to protect their employees and their bottom line. The good news is there are many things businesses can do to help employees manage stress at work. The first step is for the employer to recognise what stress can do to an employee, both physically and emotionally.

The changing world of work is making increased demands on workers; downsizing and outsourcing, the greater need for flexibility in terms of both function and skills, increasing use of temporary contracts, increased job insecurity, higher workloads and more pressure, and poor work-life balance are all factors which contribute to work-related stress.

The risk of work-related stress is generated by such job characteristics as, among others, excessive quantitative demands, low control, low social support, role ambiguity and role conflict, low development possibilities, job insecurity, and the presence of psychological harassment in the workplace.

Research has proven that stress at work is associated with cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal diseases, immunological problems, and problems with mental health (anxiety and depression disorders).

It's in a manager's best interest to keep stress levels in the workplace to a minimum. Managers can act as positive role models, especially in times of high stress. If a respected manager can remain calm in stressful work situations, it is much easier for his or her employees to also remain calm, and by encouraging activities that help relieve stress, such as walking and healthy eating, or even laughing, they can make a real positive contribution to employees wellbeing.

How to reduce job stress

  • Taking care of yourself
  • Get Moving – regular exercise is a powerful stress reliever, even if it s a 10 minute walk around the office
  • Make food choice’s that keep you going –low blood sugar can make you feel anxious/irritable while eating too much can make you feel lethargic. Eat small meals but often
  • Drink alcohol in moderation – alcohol, temporarily reduces anxiety and worry, but too much can cause anxiety when it wears off.
  • Get enough sleep – stress cab cause insomnia, but a lack of sleep can lead to more stress. Being well rested helps keep an emotional balance, a key factor in coping with work related stress
  • Get support- sharing how you feel with another person can help relieve stress

Time management tips

  • Create a balanced schedule. Analyse your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. All work and no play is a recipe for burnout. Try to find a balance between work and family life, social activities and solitary pursuits, daily responsibilities and downtime.
  • Don’t over-commit yourself. Avoid scheduling things back-to-back or trying to fit too much into one day. All too often, we underestimate how long things will take. If you've got too much on your plate, distinguish between the "shoulds" and the "musts." Drop tasks that aren't truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.
  • Try to leave home earlier in the morning. Even 10-15 minutes can make the difference between frantically rushing to your desk and having time to ease into your day. Don’t add to your stress levels by running late.
  • Plan regular breaks. Make sure to take short breaks throughout the day to take a walk or sit back and clear your mind. Also try to get away from your desk for lunch. Stepping away from work to briefly relax and recharge will help you be more, not less, productive.

Task management tips for reducing stress

  • Prioritise tasks. Make a list of tasks you have to do, and tackle them in order of importance. Do the high-priority items first. If you have something particularly unpleasant to do, get it over with early. The rest of your day will be more pleasant as a result.
  • Break projects into small steps. If a large project seems overwhelming, make a step-by-step plan. Focus on one manageable step at a time, rather than taking on everything at once.
  • Delegate responsibility. You don’t have to do it all yourself. If other people can take care of the task, why not let them? Let go of the desire to control or oversee every little step. You’ll be letting go of unnecessary stress in the process.
  • Be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to contribute differently to a task, revise a deadline, or change their behaviour at work, be willing to do the same. Sometimes, if you can both bend a little, you’ll be able to find a happy middle ground that reduces the stress levels for

 Link for Stress Website: