Workplace stress is one of the top five stressors for men.

While the workplace can have a positive influence on our well-being, it can also be major source of stress and negatively impact our mental health. Due to social expectations to “man up”, “tough it out”, and just get the work done, along with having a personal expectation to be a provider for their family, men may be particularly affected by workplace stressors leading to burnout, low job satisfaction, and depression.[1]

Learning how to take proactive measures to manage workplace-related stress can help us prevent burnout and maintain our psychological health.

What is Work-Related Stress?

Stress is a universal human response to perceived challenges or external demands, and nearly every job has some stress-inducing aspect to it.

Common sources of stress at work:

  • Low or inadequate salaries (or benefits)
  • Heavy workloads and long or inflexible hours
  • Unrealistic deadlines or pressure
  • Lack of control over tasks or job responsibilities
  • Conflicts with co-workers or bosses
  • Discrimination or harassment
  • Limited opportunities for career development or advancement
  • Fear of losing job
  • Lack of meaning of work performed

When work-related pressures don’t go away, it can become a chronic stressor that wears us down, affecting other areas of our lives.

Here are some actionable steps we can take to reduce workplace stress:

Ways to Manage Workplace Stress

1. Create pre- and post-work routines

Far too often we find ourselves disorganized and rushing to leave our home for work, causing many of us to arrive at work already feeling tired and stressed out. 

  • Pre-work: Prepare and eat a healthy breakfast before leaving for work. Listen to music or a podcast on your way to work. 
  • When you get to work: Make a cup of coffee or tea, check in with co-workers, make a to-do list for the day.
  • Post-work: Try to find ways to unwind and relax. This might include listening to music, going for a walk/run/swim, journaling, or stopping at a favourite cafe. This can help to shift your mindset so that you can better leave work-related stresses at work. 

Our article on daily routines provides some useful tips.

2. Break tasks down into smaller discrete steps

Large or difficult tasks can often seem overwhelming and stressful. One way we can tackle these responsibilities is by breaking them down into smaller, more manageable parts. 

  • Start by first identifying the main task and then define the different steps needed to achieve the task. 
  • After breaking it down, prioritize and assign timelines for each of the smaller tasks so that we can better manage our time and stay on track. 

Our article on building daily habits includes more information on setting SMART goals.

3. Make your workplace a calming, comfortable, and safe environment

A few simple changes can help create a work environment that is much more welcoming, organized, and peaceful. Try to incorporate calming elements, such as:

  • Plants
  • Artwork
  • Photos of loved ones 
  • Items that remind you of happy times or inspire you

We also want to make sure that our work setup allows us to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible (while recognizing that this isn’t always possible in some work environments).

If you work in an office environment, you could try: 

  • Adjusting your chair to your body’s needs (height, lumbar support, and tilt adjustment) to enable good posture
  • Raising or lowering table or workstation heights to prevent hunching over
  • Using a footrest
  • Using a supportive keyboard and mouse
  • Adjusting lighting and temperature

Simply cleaning up a messy workspace (dusting, vacuuming, tidying up) can help reduce distractions and the sense of chaos associated with a cluttered workspace. If there are more serious workplace safety issues, it’s critical to talk to a supervisor about your concerns and see what changes can be made. 

4. Let go of perfectionism

Being a “perfectionist” (someone that has very high, and often unrealistic, standards of personal performance) can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can help us become more productive and efficient, yet on the other hand, it can lead to increased feelings of burnout and anxiety, and feeling that we’re never good enough

One way we can avoid falling victim to the perfectionist mindset is to embrace mistakes. Rather than getting angry at ourselves for doing something wrong, focus on what we did right and how we can learn from mistakes. 

  • Acknowledge the efforts you put in rather than focusing solely on the end results. 

If you are in a supervisory role, try not to demand from others more than what is realistic. 

5. Establish clear boundaries between work and life

An important part of maintaining a healthy work-life balance is establishing clear boundaries between our work and home lives.

This can include:

  • Not checking work emails after hours 
  • Putting work-related tasks aside at the end of the day 
  • Reminding yourself to leave thoughts about work until your next work day
  • Having a separate area for work, if working remotely
  • Prioritizing your health, friends, and family over work

6. Set realistic limits

Establishing limits for things such as work hours, workloads, and responsibilities with our employers can provide us with a sense of control and help reduce work-related stressors.

  • If something is unrealistic or unreasonable, convey this to a supervisor or manager in an open and respectful conversation, where you clarify the expectations of your role and your workload’s feasibility. 

Many jobs today seemingly expect us to spend more hours doing work than what we are being paid for. This can be a tricky topic to raise, but if work hours are negatively affecting your personal health, it’s important to have a conversation with your boss about this. 

If you’re worried about how your manager may respond, highlight how feeling overwhelmed with too many expectations is preventing you from giving your best effort to any one task and being a productive employee.

8. Avoid or reduce conflict with co-workers

Interpersonal conflict with co-workers can negatively affect our work environments and take a mental and physical toll on everyone involved. 

The best strategy here is to steer clear of any potential problems as best we can. Try not to gossip, make inappropriate jokes/comments, or share too many opinions on sensitive topics such as religion or politics. 

Sometimes though, even with the best intentions, conflicts can arise. If this is the case, do your best to handle these situations appropriately through active listening and de-escalation. You may need to involve other co-workers, supervisors, or your HR department (if an option) to help resolve larger issues. 

9. Reach out to a co-worker

While not always easy, having honest conversations with co-workers gives us the opportunity to share concerns and receive advice on how to navigate stressful situations. This can help to:

  • Reduce feelings of isolation 
  • Access valuable experience and advice from co-workers
  • Build a social support system for future guidance
  • Open the door for others who are having difficulty at work to feel comfortable sharing their experiences 

Sometimes, simply sharing our feelings with someone who understands the problems we’re going through can help alleviate our stress.

11. Be more social at work

Engaging in social interactions with co-workers can help reduce feelings of isolation and make the workplace a more welcoming environment and community.

Positive social interactions can also help boost our morale and enthusiasm, providing us with a more optimistic outlook at work. 

  • Try to strike up friendly conversations with co-workers
  • Attend work events to help foster positive relationships with colleagues
  • Make use of any common areas to meet for meals or take a break

12. Take short breathers

Short breaks promote mental clarity and allow us to return to our work with a fresh and clear mindset. 

  • Take a walk at lunch to get some fresh air
  • Try some deep breathing exercises 
  • Try a quick mindfulness activity or meditation

Just a few minutes away from our work environments can help calm us down and reduce feelings of being overwhelmed, while also reducing the physical strain caused by prolonged periods of sitting or tiresome and repetitive motions.

13. Get quality sleep

Sleep provides us with the opportunity to recharge both physically and mentally. Not getting enough quality sleep can negatively affect our overall health and worsen feelings of stress, anxiety and burnout.

Try to establish consistent sleep routines by creating comfortable sleep environments and avoiding caffeine, alcohol, or electronic devices before bed. 

Seek Additional Support

Seeking help is a sign of strength and a commitment to becoming your best self. If you need additional support, your employer might have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which is a free, confidential, short-term counselling service for employees. Your human resources department can provide more information about whether your employer has an EAP.

Depending on your work, you may also have health coverage for seeing a licensed therapist (e.g., a psychologist). Check out our Therapist Directory to find someone to work with.

If you suspect underlying personal issues may be exacerbating workplace stress, it’s important to address them directly. Seeking support by confiding in a trusted friend or family member or working with a qualified therapist can be tremendously helpful.

Next Steps:


  1. Simard, A. A. P., Seidler, Z. E., Oliffe, J. L., Rice, S. M., Kealy, D., Walther, A., & Ogrodniczuk, J. S. (2022). Job Satisfaction and Psychological Distress among Help-Seeking Men: Does Meaning in Life Play a Role? Behavioral Sciences, 12(3), 58.