In 2017/18,  595,000 people in the UK reported work-related stress at a level they believed was making them ill.  That’s 40% of all work-related illness.  Psychological problems, including stress, anxiety and depression, are behind one in five visits to a GP in the UK.

But what is work-related stress?  HSE’s formal definition of work-related stress is:

The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work.

Positive or negative stress?

Whilst the human body is designed to experience stress and react to it, it can either have a positive or negative affectStress can be positive in terms of keeping us alert, motivated, and ready to avoid danger.

Conversely, stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or any relaxation between stressors.  Consequently, the person becomes overworked, and stress-related tension gradually builds.  The management of this stress is crucial to overall health and wellbeing.

Stress that prolongs without any relief can lead to distress.  Distress can disturb the body’s internal equilibrium, triggering physical symptoms such as headaches, tiredness, high blood pressure, chest pain and problems sleeping.  Emotional problems such as depression, anxiety and panic attacks can also result from distress.

Key facts about stress

  • 53% of long-term absence is caused by stress
  • 47% of short-term absence is caused by stress
  • The overall median cost of absence per employee is £522
  • The average days lost per employee per year is 5.2 private sector services and 8.5 in public services

What steps can be taken to relieve stress?

Be active

Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to combat stress.  Although it seems contradictory, putting physical stress on your body helps to relieve mental stress.

It does this by:

  • Lowering your body’s stress hormones, such as cortisol.
  • Releasing endorphins, which are your brains feel-good transmitters. These help improve your everyday mood.

In the long run regular participation in aerobic exercise can decrease levels of tension, improve sleep and improve self-esteem.  It also improves body confidence, which in turn promotes mental wellbeing.

Try to find an activity that you enjoy such as walking, running, badminton, tennis, dancing.

Connect with people

Having a good network of support from colleagues, friends and family can help ease with any work troubles and seeing things from a different perspective.

Challenge yourself 

Setting yourself goals and challenges, whether at work or outside i.e – learning a language or taking up a new hobby/sport helps build confidence and deal with stress.


Although it might seem like our own health and wellbeing should be last on our to do lists, this shouldn’t be the case.

It is time to seriously consider the wider impact poor workplace health can have on our society.  On that note we would like to leave you with some facts and figures.

We hope you found this post helpful.  If you are a Bridlington based business or employee, you can access fully funded wellbeing support to combat work-related stress through our Activbusiness project.  Click the link below to find out more.