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Five Ways to Reduce Stress in the Workplace

Tim Thurston, Director, Team Doctor

Stress is one of the most common mental disorders. At least one in six people is affected by stress at work at any one time and it is among the leading causes of absence and presenteeism (people coming to work when they’re ill). Pressure and stress form a normal part of life and can be very helpful in helping us to achieve at work. It’s when those feelings start to overwhelm individuals and teams over a period of time, that it can start to cause real problems. Tim Thurston and Rosie Runciman of Team Doctor, suggest ways to minimise stress in the workplace.

As individuals and managers of others, we need a fundamental understanding of the causes, symptoms and signs of stress, so that we can recognise it in ourselves and our teams, and take appropriate action.

Stress is inevitable in the workplace, but as a manager, reducing bad stress needs to be part of your strategy. Research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) consistently demonstrates that line managers and particularly the first line manager at supervisor level, can have the most impact on the mental health of employees.

Public Health England has come up with a psychological ‘PPE’ for employees.  We think this is a great idea and encourages the businesses we work with to think about how they and their teams can implement it to keep stress at bay.

Five ways to reduce stress in the workplace

1. Know what makes you and your team happy

Firstly, understand what makes you happy. Is it being organised?  Do you feel vulnerable if you haven’t got a clear plan? Everyone needs a well-defined purpose, so this is a good starting point. As a manager, it's fundamental that you understand what makes your team members happy.

2. Understand what keeps you well

How much sleep do you need? If you are not getting enough, make an effort to sleep for longer. Sleep sacrifice is common but is not beneficial to your health, especially if it happens over a long period of time. How much exercise do you need?  What is the right diet for you?

3. Create an action plan for when you get distressed

We all feel stressed at some point, so we need to have a plan in place so we can cope better.  It could be that you take a break and go for a walk, or if that’s not possible you might do a simple breathing exercise. As long as you have thought about it in advance and have developed a strategy that works for you, those heightened moments of stress during the day will be far more manageable.

4. Control what you can and don't get stressed about what you can't

Trying to control things that you have no control over, are almost guaranteed to produce negative stress. What you can do, is control the way you and your team respond to stress-inducing situations that you can't do anything about, and this should be your focus.

5. Ensure proper training is given for each role and support one another

A major driver of stress is not knowing what to do or not knowing how to do it. A short-term investment in proper training pays huge dividends in the long-term. We are all part of a team of some description, and knowing that you are all working together and want each other to do well is incredibly powerful in terms of improving wellbeing and performance.

TeamDoctor provides online courses and films that help improve Wellbeing at Work. For more information email or visit

About the Authors

Tim Thurston and Rosie Runciman are part of the senior management team at Team Doctor and past speakers at Allen Associates' Zoom HR Hub.

Tim Thurston

Tim is an experienced Managing Director and business leader, with over 30 years of management experience. Most of Tim’s career has been in publishing, where he has been managing director of five different business. These have included magazines, newspapers, radio and local TV stations. During Tim’s career he has led and developed teams to achieve consistent success. He established a reputation for developing people and successfully managed several change programmes.

He has attended the Henley School of Management and Cranfield Business School. He is also a qualified football and cricket coach. Tim launched Team-I in 2017, using the success of elite sport as the narrative for helping companies to embed the key elements of successful teams into their business.

Rosie Runciman

Rosie worked at the BBC for more than 20 years on Radio 4's Today programme, Newsnight, Radio 5 Live and at The World Service. She was Editor of Newshour with a global audience of over 40 million and won Sony awards for programme content for 9/11 and the fall of the Berlin Wall.