Blog: understanding stress is key to managing it

Ellen Plumer, Head of Outreach, Health & Wellbeing at BenBy Ellen Plumer, Head of Outreach, Health & Wellbeing at Ben

Most of us won’t ever be able to fully remove stress from our lives, it seems to be part and parcel of being human. However, it’s the level of stress we experience and how we deal with it that means the difference between coping or it turning into a bigger issue.

From our research, we know that stress is one of the most common issues for those who work in our industry (automotive). And amongst the UK-wide working population, 74% of people were so stressed last year that they felt unable to cope, according to the Mental Health Foundation.

What is stress?

Stress happens when we have too much pressure in our lives. This can be lots of different pressures all at once (e.g. multiple pressures at work and home) or an event which tips us over from pressure to stress. When we’re stressed we don’t always think clearly or do things to help us feel less stressed.

A certain amount of stress is inevitable, but if it goes on for longer periods of time, it can become more serious, leading to burnout or mental health issues.

HSE defines stress as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them’.

Workers feel stress when they can’t cope with pressures and other issues.

Spotting the signs of stress in the workplace

Stress can make us feel tired, tense and overwhelmed. The combination of physical and emotional reactions to the situation can change our normal behaviour – we are less patient, can become snappy, negative or even angry. This is because stress triggers our body into ‘fight, flight or freeze’ mode to prepare us to either stay and deal with a threat or run away to safety; adrenaline starts pumping, our heart beats faster and our blood pressure rises.

As well as behavioural problems, some other warning signs of stressed employees can include issues with sleep, loss of appetite and you may even notice sickness absences rising, productivity levels dropping, engagement waning and more errors being made across your teams.

What can employers do to minimise stress in the workplace?

We believe the most important thing is to check in with employees regularly and really listen to what they are telling you. In addition, all areas of our lives impact on our health & wellbeing, so it’s important for employers to understand that stresses at home sometimes spill over into work and vice versa. We’re only human after all.

Ben is here for those who work, or have worked, in the automotive industry and their family dependents so do let your employees know about us. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch via our free and confidential helpline: 08081 311 333 or use our webchat at You can also access Ben’s out of hours text support line by texting BEN to 58258. It’s completely free to get in touch with us if you work (or have worked) in the automotive industry, or you are dependent on someone who is.

More about Ellen

Ellen Plumer is Ben’s Head of Outreach, Health & Wellbeing. Ellen has worked at Ben for over 8 years, having performed various roles across the charity. Ellen also has over 20 years of experience working in the third sector.

Ellen spends a lot of time travelling across the UK, spreading the word about the vital support that Ben provides to the automotive industry’s workforce. Ellen is motivated by the mission to ensure everyone in the automotive sector knows that Ben is there to support them when they hit a bump in their road.

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