Stress in itself is not an illness. However, long-term stress can lead to illness.

Stress is the body’s reaction to either physical or psychological overload. Stress is how the body attempts to survive overload. Together with the nervous system, our hormones and immune systems work to compensate for the damage caused by overload.

When you are stressed, you feel demotivated and experience an imbalance between demands and resources. Stress can, for example, be caused by unclear roles, changes, conflicts, excessive workload, a lack of predictability and priorities, but also your private life and personality play an important role when you are trying to identify the sources of stress. Stress can lead to a number of physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms. The Work Environment Knowledge Centre (in Danish) lists the following:

  • Emotionally: You may feel, for example, aggressive, irritable, sad, listless and distracted.
  • Cognitively/mentally: You find you have, for example, difficulties concentrating or remembering, and you feel less motivated.
  • Behaviourally: You overreact, you isolate yourself socially and you report sick from work etc.
  • Physically: You may suffer, for example, headaches, insomnia, heart palpitations, stomach ache, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, nausea and unusual tiredness (exhaustion).

At the workplace

At the workplace your stress is everyone’s problem, and you shouldn’t have to fight it on your own. It is best solved together. Therefore, individuals, groups, management and the organisation have a shared responsibility.

  •  The individual is responsible for recognising his or her own stress signals and asking for help if necessary.
  •  The group or the employee’s colleagues have a shared responsibility for looking out for one another, for nurturing collegial well-being and for ensuring that everyone speaks decently to one another.
  •  The management plays a key role in tackling stress, for example in relation to encouraging a dialogue on the issue, being aware of the available options in the case of stress as well as helping with, for example, prioritising work and clarifying roles.
  •  The organisation is also hugely important in relation to the efforts being made to prevent stress, among other things by creating the right framework for a work environment that promotes well-being.

Focus on stress 

In its work with stress, your department or unit will benefit from seeking inspiration from the Work Environment Knowledge Centre which is behind the campaign “From stress to well-being”. The Work Environment Knowledge Centre describes a wide range of relevant points relating to stress including a definition of stress, risk groups, symptoms and signs, problem-solving etc.

The Work Environment Knowledge Centre also offers to send outreach representatives to visit public workplaces with a view to strengthening the measures to improve the work environment.

The safety sector councils (BAR) have published a guide, “Godt arbejdsmiljø fra A-Å - En miniguide til arbejdsmiljøorganisationen” (“The good work environment from A-Z – a mini guide for the Occupational Health and Safety Organisation”), which provides a clear overview of key issues in relation to the psychological and physical work environment. Find out, for example, how to lift heavy items without suffering back pain, how to prevent bullying, how to avoid excessive heat in the office during the summer and much else of relevance for both the newly elected occupational health and safety representative as well as the more experienced.

The guide contains references to many of the videos, guidelines and tools which BAR has developed and which can be accessed via the link.

  • Find and download the guide here (in Danish)
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