Five tips to stay stress free at work

Pablo Vandenabelle
Clinical Director for Mental Health at Bupa UK
04 April 2018

white paperclip icon

This article is more than three years old. It reflects the best available evidence at the time of publication.

Work is good for your health; though sometimes you may not think it when Monday morning rolls around and you'd rather have a lie in!

Work is fulfilling. It stretches our minds, grows our skills and provides an environment for social relationships too. But on those days when you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and starting to feel stressed, there are five key things you can do to keep stress at bay. Watch my video below to find out more.

Video transcipt

Hi, I'm Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director for mental health at Bupa. And today I will share with you my five tips for staying stress free at work.

Number one: engage in regular and moderate levels of exercise. It's been recognised for a long period of time that exercise can be of benefit in the management of physical health conditions. Increasingly there's also a body of evidence available that exercise is of benefit in terms of people's mental health. Such forms of exercise can be engaging in walks, dancing, light jogging and so on. We know that exercise not only improves people's levels of self-esteem, it also improves their sleep, it fends off anxiety and depression, and it generally reduces the levels of stress.

Number two is to ensure that you have regular and balanced meals. There is a clear link between stress and our diet. Some of us when feeling stressed will go off our food and skip meals. Others may turn to comfort eating. Many of you will also recognise the feeling that when you're feeling hungry and your blood sugars are low you become more irritable. When we think about comfort eating, the problem is that we have high fluctuating levels in our blood sugar. We have a peak of high blood sugar and then a quick fall. The benefit of having regular and balanced meals is that we achieve a more stable blood sugar level.

My third tip is to practice mindfulness skills. Mindfulness is a mind-body based practice that alters the way you feel and think. It stems from Eastern meditation techniques. It helps you to focus very much on the present moment. Mindfulness can be learnt in groups or there's various online resources available that may teach you mindfulness skills. It's important to regularly practice those mindfulness skills. First, to avoid stress creeping up. Second, to master the skills so you can use them and rely on them when you do feel stressed.

My fourth tip is to make sure you set time aside for yourself, your friends and your family. First of all it's important to set time aside for yourself. Most of us are not very good at saying no when demands are being made on our time. The result of that is that we stop doing activities that we enjoy; activities that help us to escape and unwind. It is also important to set time aside for friends and family. And there's three reasons for that. First of all there's the direct enjoyment and pleasure of having laughs with friends and family, spending time with them. Second, it's important to maintain them as a source of support to turn to when things are getting difficult for you when you are feeling stressed. And finally, it is the case that actually those around us, our friends or family who know us best, are in a better position to tell us when we're not doing as well as we think we are doing, when you perhaps are becoming stressed.

Finally, my fifth tip is to avoid substances that you may use to manage your stressors. It is human nature to try to self-medicate when things aren't going well and in terms of stress people often turn to substances such as caffeine, nicotine or even alcohol. All of these substances may work in the very short term, but in the long term they actually have a detrimental effect upon your stress. For example, it is known that nicotine actually increases feelings of tension and anxiety.

Thank you very much for listening to these five tips in how to manage your stress at work. I truly hope that you find them helpful.

Even healthy people become unhealthy sometimes. Health insurance can help you get prompt access to the treatment and support you need to help you get back on the road to recovery. Learn more with our useful guide to understanding health insurance

Pablo Vandenabelle
Pablo Vandenabeele
Clinical Director for Mental Health at Bupa UK

Did you find our advice helpful?

We’d love to hear what you think. Our short survey takes just a few minutes to complete and helps us to keep improving our healthy lifestyle articles.