Where does work stress come from?

Date posted:
Wed 09 October 2019

As part of our #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek social campaign Kim Rutherford from Dalton Wise has written a series of brilliant blogs discussing mental health and stress in the workplace.

Where does work stress come from?

We must be realistic with ourselves – there is no such thing as a stress-free job.

Stress at work is now so common, that finding a low-stress job is likely to be very difficult, and unfortunately, work stress has significant health consequences, from the common cold and flu to more severe situations such heart disease and poor mental health. So, we must do something about it in order to protect our overall wellbeing.

Option 1: We could spend our time blaming everything and everyone around us, bottling it up, suffering in silence and never making any positive changes

Option 2: We could take responsibility for the things that we can control and implement effective strategies to reduce the stress within our own role using two simple strategies:

1. Identify where the trigger stress is coming from

2. Manage it or problem solve it using a range of techniques

If you fancy giving option 2 a go, then read on.

Within the workplace our stressors are most likely linked to one or more of the following four stress triggers:

1. Interpersonal Conflict

2. Disorganisation

3. Multitasking

4. Physical Discomfort

I want to focus on Number one: Interpersonal Conflict. Issues with colleagues can be one of the most difficult to deal with and can have the biggest impact on our mental health. There is a simple technique for managing these situations effectively and reducing the stress and anxiety related to them within the workplace.

Conflict Resolution

Interpersonal conflicts are inevitable when you bring together two or more people all of whom have different personalities, communication styles, ideas, thoughts, opinions, work ethics, values and work style preferences. It can be extremely stressful, and it can create a hot bed for bullying, cliques and ongoing misunderstandings, which not only cause us increased stress and anxiety but also reduces performance and productivity.

The 5 steps to conflict resolution are a good technique to learn, to reduce those ‘people related’ headaches.

1. Identify the situation - Precisely pinpoint who and what is causing the conflict

2. Make an appointment to discuss the conflict - You want to meet on neutral ground in a public area, so the conversation stays civil.

3. Craft your “I” message – Use ‘I’ statements rather than ‘You’ statements to prevent defensive behaviour from the offset

4. Set your goal - Plan your ideal outcome, including how they may react and be willing to hear their side too

5. Get closure - Before leaving the meeting, confirm what has been agreed

If after trying to, or successfully resolving the conflict, your stress levels do not reduce to your desired levels, then have a look at the other potential trigger areas:

1. Disorganisation

2. Multitasking

3. Physical Discomfort

Maybe the answer lies in there, but remember one of the most important strategies for managing stress and mental wellness effectively within the workplace is …


Ignoring it, supressing it, suffering in silence does not remove the issue, does not reduce the stress, does not improve your mental wellness and does not prevent you from longer term mental or physical health issues …. talking to someone can, getting support can, dealing with it head on can.

Just because work will never be stress free, does not mean it can’t be a happy place for you – so don’t suffer alone, talk to someone and learn to manage your stress triggers.

To find out more or enquire about Dalton Wise click here.