Stress in the workplace

Stress in the workplace is a topical issue that is not going away.  According to the government’s Health and Safety Executive, ‘The total number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2013/14 was 487 000 (39%) out of a total of 1 241 000 cases for all work-related illnesses.  In addition, they reported that, ‘The total number of working days lost due to stress, depression or anxiety was 11.3 million in 2013/14, an average of 23 days per case of stress, depression or anxiety.’

The HSE’s research states that GPs reported the following factors as some of the most likely causes of work-related stress: ‘ workload pressures including scheduling’ and ‘shift work… interpersonal relationships, including difficulties with superiors and bullying or harassment,  and changes at work, including reduction of resources or staff and additional responsibilities.’

Of course, employees can also bring stress from their personal lives to their place of employment as well as taking home the challenges they face during their working day.

In the workplace, stress can affect  an employee’s ability to work efficiently, make sensible decisions, think positively, be creative, maintain successful relationships with colleagues, meet deadlines, report for work on time (or at all) and so on.

Signs and symptoms of stress are numerous and there are simply too many to list here, but some of the most common are: low mood, anxiety, anger, extreme exhaustion, inability to fall asleep, night-waking, bad dreams/nightmares, headaches, physical pain and food cravings (often carbohydrates and sugar).

So, how can solution-focused hypnotherapy help to reduce stress in the workplace?  Well, when stress starts to negatively affect our lives, it’s a sign that the ‘chimp’ brain, as Professor Steve Peters, author of ‘The Chimp Paradox’ calls it, is out of control.  This part of the brain is our emotional centre and all information passes through this ‘gateway’, which is responsible for the fight/flight response.  If the ‘chimp’ brain perceives that there is a threat, it will act on impulse, unless the rational part of the brain is strong enough to step in and modify its response.  This is why people often say or do things in the heat of the moment and regret their words or actions later.

Solution focused hypnotherapy teaches the client about how their brain works and how stress and anxiety is created.  Therapy sessions focus on helping the client to take control of the inner ‘chimp’, creating new neural pathways that promote positive thought, positive action and positive interaction.

As a solution focused hypnotherapist, I help clients to create solutions and goals and blend talking therapy (of the positive kind) with hypnosis.  It is very effective in alleviating conditions associated with negative stress and rapid gains are made when the client is committed to the process. The brain is incredibly ‘plastic’: we really can alter its make-up by thinking differently.  With positive thought comes positive action and rapid changes start to take place.

Don’t get me wrong, we all need some stress in our lives.  In recent times, the word stress has come to be synonymous with something bad and yet it is what drives us into action and, in certain situations, ensures our survival.  However, if the part of the brain that controls and manages stress becomes overloaded, and the rise can be a gradual process, the primitive, emotional part of the brain takes over and this part of the brain has a tendency to be very negative, operating within the parameters of anger, anxiety and depression.

Prior to training as a hypnotherapist, I worked in the field of education for eighteen years in various roles including classroom teacher, consultant, school leader and OFSTED inspector.  I have first-hand experience of work-based stress and the negative impact it can have on personal health and well-being, as well as professional performance and productivity.

I offer work-based visits, seeing employees on a one-one-basis, and I am also available for talks to small groups about the workings of the brain and how to combat stress.  If you would like to know more about solution focused hypnotherapy and how it can help you to reduce employee stress, increase productivity and raise morale in the workplace, please contact me for a no obligation conversation.

Sonia Diiorio: solution focused clinical hypnotherapist and psychotherapist  Email:



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