Managing stress in the workplace

Mental Health in the Workplace

By: Kate Cottrell

When the going gets tough, the tough get going! We may be familiar with what a good motivator stress can be, but too much can be harmful. Given that we spend about third of our time at work, having a chronically stressful work environment can take a real toll.

Research has identified a few common job features associated with unhealthy levels of stress. Work that requires a person to repeatedly meet imposed deadlines without providing the worker much control of their daily work routine, known as high demand/low control jobs, can significantly increase the risk of heart problems, anxiety, depression, and demoralization. 1

Similarly, jobs that demand a lot of physical or mental effort and offer relatively little reward in terms of pay, status, or career opportunities (high effort/low reward jobs) can lead to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and conflict-related problems.1

Here are a few tips that may help reduce your work stress.

  • Try to maintain good relationships with some, if not all of your coworkers. They can provide a great support system when you need help or just want to vent. 2
  • Don’t get caught in the multi-tasking trap – you can really only do one thing at a time – so focus on doing it well, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done, and then move on to the next task. 2
  • Talk to your employer – the boss may be unaware of your difficulties dealing with the job demands. If you are dealing with a mental disability, you may have the right to accommodations at work. Sometimes more flexible hours or small adjustments in the work environment can make a big difference to your stress levels.2

For information about mental illnesses and employment support information, visit the Canadian Mental Health Association’s website. For self-help tips on dealing with anxiety, visit



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