Knowing the signs of stress and anxiety is important for a mentally healthy workplace. Spotting when something’s wrong – and being able to take steps to address it – is important for everyone.

Here’s how to pinpoint symptoms of stress and anxiety in yourself and your co-workers. 


The red flags

It’s not always easy to open up to work colleagues about your mental health, even if you’re friends. It’s natural to worry colleagues may think differently about you if they know you’re struggling. So you may not know if one of your co-workers is having a hard time (and you may find it difficult to talk to them if you’re the one experiencing issues). Here are some of the signs that suggest someone may be having difficulties with stress or anxiety – and you can learn to look out for them in yourself, too.

Some red flags you may notice include:

  • A loss of confidence, which may manifest as being quieter than usual or avoiding stepping up
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Avoidance of other people
  • Complaining about being tired
  • Missing deadlines and struggling to complete work
  • A change in appetite, either skipping meals or eating more
  • Drinking more at work events or appearing hungover in the mornings


If you think a colleague is struggling…

It’s always worth trying to speak to them diplomatically to see if you can work out what’s wrong, especially if you have a good relationship with them. Try going out for a lunchtime walk with them and simply asking how they are. You could try saying you’ve noticed they seem distracted and you’re concerned – avoid anything that could sound critical of their performance or they’re likely to close up. No matter how diplomatic you are, be aware they may not want to open up to you. You could suggest they talk to a colleague if something’s wrong, or their GP. If you’re still concerned, speak to your manager or HR department and alert them about your worries. 


If you realise you’re struggling…

As well as following some simple basic steps to help you manage stress in the workplace, these are all ways to protect yourself:

  • Celebrate achievements: Most of us don’t do this enough but acknowledging what you’ve done well releases feelgood chemicals. Try to pause before you rush onto the next project, even if it’s just to tell your colleague what you’ve achieved. 
  • Do things for yourself: Having a passion or hobby outside of work gives you a contentment boost and helps you focus on the things that make you happy. 
  • Speak up: Always try to talk to your manager or someone else in your company if you feel under pressure. It’s best to nip it in the bud before things get on top of you. We have some tips for you! 
  • Find support: If you notice any of the signs listed above, go to your GP. They will assess you and may be able to suggest steps to help, such as a talking therapy like CBT.