- Most people experience stress at some point in their working life. A small amount of stress can be motivating.
- Too much stress may leave you feeling tired, irritated, overwhelmed, have trouble sleeping and/or remembering things.
- If you need help, there are a number of things you can do: talk to a trusted friend or family member, talk to your workplace supervisor or seek professional help, including contacting a confidential support help line.
A small amount of stress can be positive because it can motivate you to get things done. However, too much stress can be bad for your health. Too much and ongoing stress can result in difficulties with concentration, sleep, and decision-making, and can sometimes lead to a mental health condition.
You may experience work-related stress for a variety of reasons. Some common stressors include unreasonable work demands (for example, too much work for one person to do, or not being given enough time to complete the work); negative workplace culture (for example, workers who do not support or help one another), or poor communication among workers and supervisors.
Managing Work-related Stress
To manage stress effectively, we first need to be able to recognise the signs of stress within ourselves.
You may identify signs of stress through changes in your body, your mind, and/or your behaviours. For example, you may notice that you are:
- feeling exhausted
- easily irritated
- feeling constantly overwhelmed
- taking lots of time off work or study
- experiencing memory problems
A comprehensive list of work-related stress symptoms can be found at the State Government of Victoria’s Better Health Channel.
If you notice signs of ongoing and extreme stress, try the following:
- Talk to your support network. Getting advice from friends, family, and carers can be a good step in identifying the source of the stress. The simple act of talking about your problems to someone you trust can help – expressing yourself might relieve some of the pressure, and can help you feel less alone.
- Talk to your workplace supervisor. Your supervisor may be unaware of your stress, and they can offer solutions to help you manage it. For instance, you might be able to change your work hours, get more help to complete tasks, or adjust your accommodations. Try to identify what specific aspects of the job or the workplace are a source of stress for you so that possible solutions can be identified. Share any ideas you might have about how to reduce your sources of stress at the workplace with your supervisor. There is no guarantee that the organisation can implement your ideas but they may help to guide adjustments to the workplace to accommodate your needs.
- Seek professional help. Your employer may offer an Employee Assistance Program (also known as an EAP), which provides employees with access to no-cost or low-cost confidential counselling services. Alternatively, make an appointment to visit your doctor (general practitioner or GP). Your doctor can suggest further support options if needed, such as a mental health care plan and referral so that you can visit a mental health professional.
- You can call a confidential support line. In Australia, there is immediate support available to you if you are experiencing extreme stress, anxiety, depression, or any other mental health condition. The links below are free, confidential and immediate supports. You can contact them 24 hours a day/7 days a week via telephone (free calls in Australia), by email, or webchat.
Kids Helpline is Australia’s only free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people.
Counselling is currently offered by phone 1800 55 1800, Webchat, and email.