Professor's top tips for coping with stress at work

Professor Ewan Gillon, chartered psychologist and clinical director of First Psychology Aberdeen, gives his top tips on how to take the stress out of your working day.

For most of us, we strive to perform well at work, be awarded that well-deserved promotion and gain recognition for our work.

This can often leave us feeling under pressure in the workplace, so it’s no surprise that stress is the most common cause of work-related illness. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates in 2014/15 there were 440,000 cases of work-related stress.


Job ambiguity and poor communication  –  without clearly defined goals and job descriptions, we can often feel unsure of what is expected of us.

Bullies – bullying at work is one of the top causes of workplace stress.

Poor relationships at work – having no one to turn to or ask for help can often leave us feeling alone, increasing stress levels.

stress work

Taking on too much – having a lengthy to do list at work can make us feel overwhelmed, which in turn can be counter productive as we don’t know where to begin and which tasks to start with.

It helps to identify what is causing your work-related stress and try to take action, no matter how small. Not all stress can be avoided, but it’s possible to eliminate many workplace stressors by considering the following tips:

Speak out – if you can, talk to your line manager or human resources department. They should be able to offer advice and might be able to help you avoid stress-triggers.

Be more assertive – work out how much time you have to take on additional tasks, and if you are feeling overworked, learn to say “no”. In the long term, this is better than taking on the extra work and not delivering.

Develop good working relationships – colleagues can provide a network of support. Ask when you need help.

Talk to someone you trust – whether it’s a friend, family member or councillor, talk to someone for support and advice.

Maintain a healthy work/life balance – make sure you spend time with friends and family outside of work. If you often check work e-mails at home or on the go, have a set time each evening where you switch off.

Be realistic – no one is perfect, and this extends to the workplace. By accepting this, you can then set realistic expectations.

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