Work Stress, Don't Let It Fester

March 28, 2024

Matthew Simons - BPsych (Hons)

Every job to a greater, or lesser degree, comes with physical, mental and emotional demands.

Some stress from the work we do is normal, and just part of ‘a working life’. But if the demands of the job sees us regularly working under prolonged pressure, carrying an unreasonable load, working excessive hours, working in a climate of fear or exposed to trauma – this is unhealthy.

Whether from bullying, prolonged hours or excessive work pressure, or from stressful experiences or workplace trauma, stress can follow us into our rest time and into the lives of our families.

Left unattended, it can fester its way into our lives, affect our ability to cope with other life stressors, and impact even our personal relationships (with a whole lot of negative outcomes).

It can make us withdrawn and anxious, or feed feelings of anger. It can also be a trigger for negative behaviours such as gambling, drinking heavily or substance misuse (to help mask the tension and anxiety that sits alongside persistent stress).  (See ADA’s The Little Blue Book of MENTAL HEALTH pp. 25-26)

So, when we feel that snowball of stress starting to build up, it’s important that we stop, and reflect to recognise what’s truly important in life.

Work is a part of life, it’s not ‘life’. So, pause and reflect on the source of the stress; if we’re overworked or carrying excessive hours – or, worse, being bullied or disrespected at work – speak to your workplace representative or EAP provider. Our work should not ‘bust our brains’; you are entitled to a safe work environment, a safe workplace, a mentally healthy workplace.

And it is up to your workplace to provide it. It is no less than a legal obligation.

If a member of Protect, call Hunterlink Counselling on 1300 725 881; or if a member of Incolink, call Incolink Counselling on 1300 000 129 – and talk about it.

Looking after our mental wellbeing is something that many of us take for granted, but our work should not make us mentally unwell, it is as simple as that.

So, strive for balance. And if work is beginning to dominate your life, take some time for yourself, for your family and for the things that you like to do. Australians, mostly, work too hard and spend too long at work. The average Australian worker gives 5.1 additional hours of unpaid work every week.  (See ADA’s The Little Blue Book of MENTAL HEALTH p. 128)

So, get out into the bush and sit by a mountain stream, or join a yoga class, or go fishing or pull a motorbike apart. In life, we all need an outlet to turn to that gives us a break from the demands of our work.

If you’d like to learn more about Workplace Mental Health training programs we offer, please call ADA Australia on 1300 378 429 or email:

Additionally, if this information has raised any concerns for you, please do speak to your GP, they can help you back to good health, or call a helpline: LIFELINE 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue 1300 22 4636.

Article by
Matthew Simons - BPsych (Hons)