How to recognize the signs of stress and help a stressed employee


We all feel a bit stressed sometimes. Stress can be a good thing because it helps us to focus and perform well. However, when we experience too much stress, we can feel the negative effects which could eventually result in burnouts or depression. But how do we know when the stress is too much? And what can we do to reduce feeling stressed? Read on to learn how to recognize signs of stress, what you can do when you’re feeling stressed, and how to help others in the same position.

What is stress?

Stress is a feeling which occurs when an individual is under emotional or mental pressure. This feeling can help us to meet our demands in life. However, too much stress can have a negative effect. Stress can affect our moods, bodies and relationships with others. When under stress our bodies release hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.

Stress can lead to anxiety and irritability and if allowed to continue for a prolonged period of time it can cause a feeling of physical and mental exhaustion which is often called burnout.

Signs of Stress

There are multiple signs which can be spotted when a person is feeling stressed. Here, we have summarized some key signs that are easy to recognize to help you help yourself or others in times of stress.

HeadachesFeeling IrritableCrying
Muscle tensionLack of ConcentrationAvoiding tasks (decreased productivity)
SweatingIncreased worryingBiting nails
Fast heartbeatFeeling lowA change in eating patterns (more or less)
Shortness of breathRepetitive thoughtsSleep problems


Tips on how employees can deal with stress

Do you recognize some of these symptoms in yourself or someone you know? That’s okay. Luckily, here we’ve summed up some tips on how to deal with stress.

Stress Diary

Stress diaries can be useful tools to recognize and begin to deal with your own signs of stress. Promoting this idea to employees can help to reduce workplace stress. The trick is to write down when you feel stressed. Include what happens before and after, this call help you find things that make you unwell, known as ‘stressors’. Once found you can identify solutions.

Here is an example of a stress diary:

Time of dayIntensity of the stress (1 to 5)Duration of the StressSituation

(Circumstance, location, people)

Triggering event

(What happened to cause the stress?)

Emotional Response

(How do you feel towards the event?)

Behavioural response

(How did you act?)



Planning ahead

Planning in advance for a particularly stressful day can help to reduce the negative feelings which accompany stress. For example, write a to do list or prepare things in advance. As an employer, it is good to stay on top of days which certain employees may find stressful, such as a high-stakes pitch or a particular deadline. This way, employees and employers can have open and frank discussions and plan ahead collaboratively to ensure the best workplace performance.

Being more active

Physical activity in the form of walking and cycling for example can help to use up energy. This will not remove the stress entirely but can reduce its intensity. Employers can not only encourage this behaviour, but organize work outings which are healthier and more stress-relieving than the typical drinking get-togethers.

Photo by dylan nolte on Unsplash

Talk to someone you trust

Talk with trusted friends, family members or colleagues. Another option is to contact a helpline or wellbeing platform. This can help to challenge your thoughts and can also help in finding solutions to stressful situations. As an employer, it is important to foster trusting relationships with staff and to make sure that everyone feels safe and heard in the workplace, as well as providing useful workplace wellbeing services…like a coaching service such as Inuka!

Positive reflection

Focus on positive aspects in your life, by listing 3 positive things per day. Building a positive work environment is a useful idea for employers aiming to reduce stress experienced by employees, and encouraging this kind of reflection at the end of the day or the beginning of a staff meeting is one way to do so.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a type of meditation which helps you to focus on the present moment. It can help reduce signs of stress and symptoms caused by stress. Mindfulness meditation can be found online, for example on YouTube / CD’s apps. Again, this is an idea which can be encouraged by employers, as well as incorporated into workdays at intervals such as lunch, home time, or meetings.

So… do you want to do a self-scan to see if you are resilient towards stress or more at risk of a burnout or drop out?

We offer a 5-minute self-scan to check how you are doing. Sign up today to take the test! After that, you will be able to book a coaching session immediately and start your journey to a more stress-free life.

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