Understanding and Managing Stress

Stress is becoming an ever-increasing problem both in the workplace and in our personal lives. How we handle it has become a topic of discussion with no clear answer. After all, everyone reacts differently to a stressful situation and what might be easy for some to overcome, could be impossible for others. This is especially true when we consider that not everyone has the same resources in place to help them cope.

What Is Stress?

Woman sat at a laptop holding her head in frustrationSo, what is stress? Why do we get it and how do we deal with it?

Originally, stress served as a survival instinct. Whenever our ancestors were in a life-threatening situation, stress would kick in for brief bursts of time to help them escape the threat.

Nowadays, the problem is that stress isn’t turning off outside of these dangerous moments and the demands it places on us exceeds our capacity to cope.

What Causes Stress?

man working at a desk, holding his head in stressAs for what causes stress? Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast answer. The reasons for it are personal and what affects one person, might not affect another. We all have a different capacity to cope and different resources available to us.

There is also not always one big stressful event and tension can build up after a series of micro stressors.

For example, let’s say your car breaks down, you have an argument with a friend and your boiler needs to be replaced in the space of a week. While normally you’d be able to handle each of these things if they happened separately, when they take place so close together the demands of your situation exceeds your ability to cope and stress builds.

How Do You Handle Stress?

Infographic summarising ways to handle stress as described in the textWays to handle stress vary but there are a few important steps that can help!


Firstly, and a part that people often miss out, is acknowledgement. Stress is a part of life and denying that you are struggling only leads to you not addressing your problems and repressing them.

Just recognising that you are having a bad day, accepting it and allowing yourself to be upset can be a major step forward in your stress management.

This acknowledgement can also lead into trying to understand where your stress is coming from which is another important step!

The Right Mindset

Having the right mindset is another important stage in the process. Your mindset can influence whether stress is helpful or harmful.

Stress being ‘helpful’ may be surprising, but it can help us to focus on a task and devote all our mental and physical resources to it.

However, stress can quickly turn bad and if you go into a stressful situation and treat it as a negative, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Assess Your Needs and Resources

After you have acknowledged and understood your stress, it helps to think about ways to alleviate your stress. What do you need? What resources do you have?

For example, if you have a stressful appointment, would it help to have a friend or family member to go with you? Or, if you know that going for walks helps you feel less stressed, try and make time in your day for a walk.

All of the steps above can be helpful in managing your own stress but tackling stress in the workplace can be difficult, especially when trying to make sure that everyone has the necessary tools to manage their own stress.

WA Management offers a range of courses which can help get everyone in the workplace up to speed such as our online Stress Awareness course, or our in-person Mental Health At Work training, which covers understanding both your own and others’ mental wellbeing, mental health support, and raising awareness.

Mental Health First Aid Training

We are currently running an offer on our Mental Health AwarenessManaging Health and Safetyand Stress Awareness courses for this month only! Get 10% off these online training courses with the code ‘welfare10’ at checkout.

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