Everyone has good days and bad days, especially at work, but a build-up of stress may impact your mental health. Check out these tips for dealing with stress on the job.

Two male workmates chatting over coffee.

Work can be stressful. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of pressure to push us to do our best. There are going to be tight deadlines, busy periods and the occasional hiccup. But there’s a big difference between a little bit of stress and an overwhelming amount.

One in eight Australian men will experience depression and one in five will experience anxiety in their lifetime. Men are at least three times more likely to die by suicide than women. And overall, men are less likely to seek help for mental health conditions than women.

Like our physical health it’s important to look after our mental health too. Whether it’s our own mental health or looking out for signs of poor mental health in our workmates, friends or family, we all play a role in looking out for each other.

Tips to help look after your mental health

The signs and symptoms

Everyone has ups and downs, but if you’re feeling stressed or worried for no particular reason or notice changes in your mood, thoughts or behaviour for more than a few weeks then it might indicate that you could do with some extra support.

Other signs and symptoms of mental health issues include:

  • feeling sad, empty, down or miserable,
  • feeling tired all the time,
  • changes in your weight (more or less),
  • feeling angry, aggressive or irritable,
  • loss of interest in, or avoiding activities you used to enjoy,
  • feeling panicked, restless, tense or on edge,
  • excessive worry or fears,
  • ongoing headaches, digestive issues or pain,
  • using alcohol or other drugs.

Dealing with stress at work

Work stress can be short term and relatively easy to deal with, like meeting an important deadline, but long-term stress can impact mental health. Excessive job stress accounts for 13 per cent of depression in working men.

Stress is common in the workplace, but it can be managed by keeping a good work-life balance; leave on time, plan holidays, catch up with a mate, or catch a concert or blockbuster movie to wind down at the end of a stressful week.

Don’t be afraid to discuss workload issues with your boss; it’s okay to admit you’ve got too much on your plate. Learn how to be diplomatic and say ‘no’ to things. If there’s an issue that’s causing stress, find a workmate with a similar role and chat about it.

Many organisations also provide access to an employee assistance program, which are just a phone call or email away.

Look out for your workmates

If you’re concerned about a colleague, asking if they’re “okay” is a simple way to start. They may be happy and relieved to talk. If not, you may need to do the talking. Explain your concerns and let them know you are here to help.

It can be useful to talk about a specific event, rather than things in general. Acknowledge the challenges they face and draw their attention to their strengths and achievements. You might offer some practical help if they want it. Sharing your own experience is very important. Be curious and share something of yourself. The biggest barrier for men seeking help is feeling alone.

A conversation can make the difference in helping someone feel less alone and more supported, no matter where you have it. Don’t underestimate the power of just ‘being there’.

It’s okay to make time for yourself

Use the following activities as a mental health checklist to make time for yourself:

  • stay connected and spend time with family and friends,
  • stay active,
  • do things that are fun or give you a sense of purpose,
  • get enough sleep and eat a healthy diet,
  • learn new ways to handle tough times (meditation, listening to music),
  • cut back on alcohol and other drugs.

Take action

A lot of blokes still think that it's weak to admit that they're going through a difficult time. But if someone is experiencing a mental health issue, it’s not as simple as being able to ‘snap out of it’, ‘drink your way through it’ or ‘pull yourself together’. In many ways, mental health conditions are no different to physical ones. Many of us will experience one at some stage in our lives. And just like a physical illness, we usually need treatment or support to get better and the earlier you get this help the better.

Find a place that is right for you – be it online, an app or in person – to learn more and seek help to look after your mental health.

Although it might seem that talking about your feelings is too hard, keeping quiet and not seeking help could make things a lot worse. What you can do:

  • talk to your family or mates,
  • talk to your GP, who can help you develop an action plan,
  • know that alcohol and drugs will make things worse.

Where and how can I access help?

If you are experiencing a mental health issue, a good place to start the discussion about getting help is with your GP. You can also call our Medibank Mental Health Phone Support on 1800 644 325, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for advice about any mental health or emotional concern.

If you, or someone you know, need immediate support or medical assistance, contact 000 in an emergency or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

For more tips and information on how to take care of your mental health, visit:

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