The Effects of Stress: What Causes Burnout in the Workplace?

Today marks the start of International Stress Awareness Week, a week to highlight the negative impacts of stress on the body and raise awareness of actions you can take to reduce stress. To investigate the levels of stress amongst the education community, we asked Kent-Teach website users if they felt stressed and a staggering 87% of respondents to our survey answered that they did. 

The NHS states that “stress is the body's reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure. It's very common, can be motivating to help us achieve things in our daily life, and can help us meet the demands of home, work and family life. But too much stress can affect our mood, our body and our relationships – especially when it feels out of our control. It can make us feel anxious and irritable and affect our self-esteem. Experiencing a lot of stress over a long period of time can also lead to a feeling of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, often called burnout”. 

There is a strong link between mental health and physical health, however, there is not a lot of research available. Poor physical health can increase the risk of developing mental health problems and poor mental health can influence our physical wellbeing. 

What physical symptoms of stress have you experienced?

Stress can have some nasty physical symptoms including but not limited to difficulty concentrating, insomnia, dizziness, headaches and or migraines, mood swings, muscle tension and over or under-eating. Some people may experience a number of symptoms at once which can exacerbate the causes of stress and make every-day life more difficult. 

40% of people that responded to our online survey said that they had difficulty sleeping or insomnia as a result of feeling stressed. Lack of sleep in itself is damaging to your mental and physical health but combined with other symptoms of stress it can make sufferers very unwell. Poor sleep is linked to lack of motivation, forgetfulness, low mood and increases stress. For help improving your sleep, here are ten tips to get a better night’s rest, you should also work on building relaxation time into your day to help you learn to switch off and help you get some much needed sleep at night time.

What is causing you the most amount of stress in the workplace?

Our third and final question in our survey asked respondents to confirm which aspect of their work life caused them the most stress out of the following options: 

Behaviour of pupils

Changes caused by Coronavirus

Number of hours spent working

Observations and monitoring



Workload is the number 1 factor causing a high amount of stress with educators, 34% of respondents cited workload as the biggest cause of stress in the workplace. 

The first thing you can do to address a high workload is to speak to your Headteacher or manager, there may be responsibilities that you can drop or ways that they can suggest to reduce the amount of work you need to complete. Secondly, it is important to work on your time management skills to work more efficiently and manage your time better as this may help to improve your situation.

Education staff now also face added pressures due to changes implemented due to the coronavirus pandemic. The anxieties of protecting staff and pupils from COVID-19 are so huge, yet staff are still required to plan and deliver lessons with the highest standards of quality. It is also more important than ever for our teachers to provide emotional support to vulnerable children who may be feeling overwhelmed about the uncertainty we are all facing. With this extensive list of multiple tasks and demands it is no surprise that coronavirus came second in the biggest causes of stress in the workplace. To help reduce stress around this read our tips for supporting staff and students during the coronavirus pandemic

How can we help? 

It is reported that around 30% of all people with long-term physical health conditions also have a mental health problem, most commonly depression/anxiety. The effects of poor mental health on physical illness is estimated to cost the NHS at least £8 billion a year. So, if mental health is a driving force for physical wellbeing, we will be focusing on supporting school staff with mental health as a priority. If we can provide a support network in schools and talk about mental health more openly, then perhaps we can help to prevent physical illness later down the line.  

Mental Health First Aid training gives us the tools to be able to recognise and understand the effects of poor mental health. We must support ourselves and colleagues using a range of practical support methods. You can visit Cantium or email for more information about Mental Health First Aid Training and other wellbeing tools we can provide.

Exercise can be very effective for fighting stress but is also extremely important for your physical wellbeing. If you don’t have access to a gym or exercise equipment, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with our “Ultimate Guide to Working Out at Home”!

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