Knowing what to say to someone who is stressed at work is difficult.
You don’t want to come across as patronizing or insincere, just as you don’t want to be pushy if they’re not ready to talk or bother them too much.
I think we’ve all experienced stress to some extent, but it’s important to remember that stress affects everyone differently.
If you’ve been stressed out before, you’ll know how frustrating it is and how isolated and alone it makes you feel.
Hopefully, you’ll also know how important it is to have a strong support network and someone to talk to.
If you want to help someone you know who is suffering from stress, here are some of the things you can say:
What to Say to Someone Who Is Stressed at Work
1. “I’m Here for You.”
It’s these simple words that most people want to hear, even if they’re never going to ask you to do anything.
It’s incredibly comforting to hear someone tell you they are there for you. You may think they know you’re there without telling them, but make them hear it.
Make sure you reassure them that they can call you any time of day or night, it doesn’t matter and it’s never going to be a bother.
2. “Can You Explain What’s Causing Your Stress?”
Sometimes it helps you talk about the cause of stress down to fine details. Whether you understand exactly what they’re explaining or not, it doesn’t matter.
It may be their job in general or just being in the rat race causing stress. Or, it may be something really specific like a toxic co-worker or an aspect of their role.
It’s incredibly liberating talking about exactly what it is causing stress. It’s possible either you or your friend will even be able to come up with a solution.
3. “It’s Ok to Ask for Professional Help.”
Most people will not ask for help, especially not professional help. It’s your job as a friend to encourage someone to do so if it’s in their best interests.
As CNBC explained in an article about why so many people did not ask for help during the pandemic, “people are hardwired to want to do things on their own and be independent-minded.”
Stress adds another dimension to this. We tend to feel very alone when stressed as it feels like a personal mental health issue.
4. “Is There Someone at Work in a Position to Help?”
Job stress costs US businesses somewhere in the region of $300 billion a year due to absenteeism, health costs, and poor performance.
So, stress is on the radar of most businesses and there are often procedures in place to help employees – but they need to reach out and tell someone.
It’s important you encourage your friend to go down the correct channels at their workplace. It’s not going to be easy but explain to them that it’s a huge step in the right direction.
5. “Make Time to Care For Yourself.”
There are a number of things Mental Health America recommends to help reduce stress, and I think all stress-reducing exercises are well worth doing.
The problem is that when someone is stressed, they probably aren’t going to make time to do them without encouragement.
Some of the things you should try and do with your friend to destress are:
- Breathing exercises and/or meditation
- Going for a walk in nature
- Talking about their problems
- Doing something that’ll make you both laugh
- Relaxing with soothing music, candles, aromatherapy, etc.
How Serious Is Work-Related Stress?
Work-related stress is very serious, and it’s affecting a lot more people than we’re often aware of.
The American Institute of Stress published a report about stress in the workplace that highlighted some alarming numbers.
Their statistics stated that:
- 40% of workers reported said their jobs were either “very” or “extremely stressful”
- 25% of workers said their jobs was the main stressor in their lives
- 75% of employees think word-related stress is worse than it was a generation ago
- 29% of workers reported being “quite a bit” or “extremely stressed” while at work
- 26% of workers reported being “often” or “very often burned out” or stressed by their work
- In the US, job stress accounts for more health complaints than family or financial problems
This means we all almost certainly know someone who is suffering from stress due to work right now, and we’re fortunate if they’re willing to talk about it.
What to Say to Someone Who Is Stressed Over Text
It’s a little different trying to comfort or reassure someone who is stressed over text than in person.
Some of the things you can say to support them are:
- “Just letting you know I’m here for you, call any time of day or night.”
- “I know you’ve got a lot on your mind, just letting you know I’m thinking about you.”
- “Let me know when you’re free, let’s meet up and have a chat.”
- “Remember, deep breaths, positive thoughts, and take your time.”
- “I’m coming round tomorrow, need me to pick anything up?”
- “No pressure, let me know what you’re ready to talk, OK?”
- “You have lots of support, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.”
- “I know how tough it can get, and I know you’ll get through it.”
Remember, if you’re not sure what exactly to say to someone who is stressed, it’s more important that you say something, anything.
Let them know you’re there for them. You may think you can’t help, but by just being available, you can.
Related – Positive affirmations for the workplace.
Image credits – Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.