5 Steps to Manage Stress in the Workplace

January 7, 2019

It might not always seem like it- particularly on a Monday morning, but working is good for your physical and mental health. It stretches your mind, grows your skills and provides a great opportunity to build social relationships.

When the demands of your work become too much it can lead to work-related stress. Most jobs are stressful, but working the construction industry can put significant strain on a person. Workers have to use their physical strength and bodies all day, alongside having to be mentally alert and on the ball to avoid mistakes. Mistakes that can be very costly and have major consequences.

Spotting the signs of work-related stress
In accordance with the Health and Safety Executive, employers have a legal duty to protect workers from stress at work. So what are the obvious signs of work-related stress?

You may feel distracted, demotivated or unable to cope
You become increasingly irritable, suffer mood swings
You might experience physical symptoms such as headaches, chest pain, aches and pains, rapid heartbeat, frequent colds and infections
Trouble sleeping
Increased use/ dependency on drugs and or alcohol
Construction workers work too long, sleep too little, eat poorly and ignore warning signs and stress signals the body gives when it's about to burnout. To prevent this there are a few simple tips to help manage workplace stress.

1. Exercise
Start exercising (or exercise more). Construction work can be physically demanding, so it's important to maintain your body and physical health. You don't need to go to a gym, thirty minutes of brisk walking contributes greatly to physical fitness. Regular exercise can help to improve health in other ways; improves strength, improves mood, helps reduce stress and anxiety and improves quality of sleep.

2. Eat well
Both our physical and mental health can seriously be impacted by what we eat, as the saying goes "you are what you eat". Working on a construction site gives you limited access to nutritious foods. One way to overcome this is to prep your lunch and snacks before work. You have to make time for what's important. Nothing is as important as looking after the number one asset that enables you to do all you do. Feed your body nourishing foods as often as you can. Stress can make you skip meals or opt for sugar laden foods and snacks, which disrupts your blood sugar. When the blood sugar is too low, you become irritable.

3. Drink more- water!
Studies have shown that dehydration leads to higher cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone released in response to stress and low blood sugar. Staying hydrated ensures you will be better equipped to deal with matters in the workplace and outside of it efficiently.

4. Spend time with Family and Friends
When things get stressful seek support from them. Much of the stress we experience can be alleviated by talking about it rather than bottling it up.

5. Avoid substances
When you are under a lot of pressure it's human nature to turn to things that you feel will help you cope such as alcohol, painkillers, cigarette and strong opioids. These might offer temporary relief but does nothing to help in the long run.

Stress is not an illness but if left unmanaged it can make you ill. Work plays a huge part in our lives, don't sacrifice your health and wellbeing for it.

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