Mental health 101

Work-related stress affects all of us at times, and it increases your risk of injury, fatigue and burnout and often affects relationships and life outside work, so it’s crucial to recognise it and know how to rein it in, or where to get help, before reaching a crisis point.

Stress is a normal response to the demands of work and can help you stay alert and perform at your best, but prolonged or excessive stress is damaging to your mental and physical health and can be a trigger for those already dealing with depression or anxiety and cause an existing condition to worsen.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by work and not make time for anything else but it’s really important to achieve a balance that promotes your home life and your overall health as well as success in your job.

Signs you're stressed
Contributing factors
  • Chest pain or a pounding heart
  • Working long hours, overtime, or through breaks
  • Fatigue
  • Time pressure, working too hard or too fast, or trying to meet unrealistic targets
  • Reduced interest in sex
  • Work that’s monotonous and dull, or which doesn’t use your range of skills or previous training
  • Nausea, diarrhoea or constipation
  • Roles where you have low levels of control or inadequate support
  • Getting colds more often
  •  Job insecurity
  • Muscle tension, pains and headaches
  • Lack of role clarity or poor communication
  • Episodes of fast, shallow breathing and excessive sweating
  • Conflict with colleagues or managers 
  • Loss or change of appetite
  • Bullying and harassment
  • Sleeping problems
  • Discrimination because of gender, ethnicity, race or sexuality
  • Prolonged or excessive pressure 
Non-physical Signs
  • Feeling overwhelmed or frustrated
  • Feeling guilty, unhappy or irritable
  • Losing confidence and being indecisive
  • Having racing thoughts
  • Memory problems
  • Excessive worrying or negativity


Manage your workplace stress


‍Find someone to talk to through your confidential workplace Employee Assistance Program run by qualified counsellors - it can also help to chat with a trusted close friend or family member - and try and postpone major life changes such as moving house or changing jobs if you’re feeling stressed or anxious.

Learn to relax and make time for things you enjoy such as reading, listening to music, exercising, fishing, meditating, gardening and friends, and take your annual leave each year to get a proper break from work.

Schedule work meetings during work hours, not in your personal time, and get out of the workplace during lunch or specified break times, even a 10-minute walk can refresh you.


Restrict your overtime hours as much as possible and try leaving on time at least a couple of times a week if you frequently work late, and avoid checking your email or answering work calls out of hours.

If working conditions seem impossible or you feel work demands are unreasonable, remember HACSUassist offers support and guidance for HACSU members and all calls are confidential. Just call 1300 880 032.