Tips for managing stress as a social worker

Health and social care was recently recorded as the second most stressful industry to work in, with 50% of absences relating to stress, depression or anxiety during 2020-2021. 

This is only getting worse in the wake of Covid-19 which has magnified some of the significant problems already prevailing in social care, including staffing shortages, funding cuts and increased demand. 

Nonetheless, there are steps we can take to reduce the impact of work-related stress and replenish our mental state. Here’s some suggestions from our team of specialists. 

Spotting the signs

It is important to recognise when you or a member of your team is suffering from excessive stress and need a break! Common symptoms of work-related stress are not limited to, but can include: 

  • Fatigue 
  • Decrease in productivity
  • Low mood
  • Headaches 
  • Alcohol abuse/ caffeine addiction 
  • Loss or increase in appetite 
  • Lack of motivation 
  • Sleepless nights
  • Issues with concentration 
  • Inability to ‘switch off’ outside of work hours

How to respond

Stress can be made manageable by making active changes to your lifestyle. 

Practise mindfulness

Mindfulness is key to managing symptoms of stress and anxiety. It helps us better understand and accept our emotions as and when they come on. You can practise mindfulness through regular meditation, walks or shaking up your routine to help reframe how you see the world. For further guidance on mindfulness, visit the NHS website


Moving your body is a fantastic way to alleviate stress due to all the endorphins it releases. Don’t worry, this doesn’t have to be as daunting as training for a triathlon, we’re talking 20 mins of yoga before work or perhaps a run accompanied by your favourite podcast. Whatever form of exercise you decide, you’ll find physical activity to be a great tool when it comes to calming your mind. 

Hobbies, hobbies and more hobbies

Do what you love and often! We can’t emphasise enough how important it is to put time aside to focus on yourself. Whatever activity helps you unwind, be it journaling, jogging or juggling, is a great self-care strategy. 

Make time to see your friends

Get off WhatsApp and make time to catch up with your friends, face-to-face. Not only is spending time with loved ones a sure-fire way to boost your mood, but studies have shown that those with satisfying relationships are more likely to live longer too! 

Don’t get emotionally involved with work 

As a social worker, it’s easy to become overly invested in your clients’ personal life to the point where you feel personally impacted by their trauma. It’s important to set boundaries at work as a preventative to ensure you maintain a line between your professional and personal life. 

How can I help my team combat stress as a manager? 

Encourage regular breaks 

Ensure your workforce are taking all of their allocated annual leave. This is essential to maintaining productivity levels and promoting a healthy work/life balance. 

Facilitate open and honest communication 

Make sure your team feels empowered to discuss factors at work that could be adding to their stress levels. This could be covered during weekly meetings or one-to-ones. Providing this time to discuss potential triggers, issues at work or even things that are going well will help employees feel supported in the workplace. 


Provide stress management training for all staff to increase awareness about how stress can manifest and how to cope with it as and when it does. 

Have support structures in place 

Well-being support should be accessible to all employees, including helpful resources and confidential counselling for those struggling with work-induced stress. 

We hope you found this blog helpful to managing your stress levels at work, and remember nothing is worth sacrificing your mental health for. Set boundaries, raise concerns and seek support when you need it. 

Visit our careers advice page for further support and resources. 

carlette Isaac

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