By Anna Paci, Head of Education & Communication at Specialist Pharmacy

Stress in the workplace is a common issue, with 79% of the workforce saying they frequently experience it and 13.7 million working days are lost to it each year in the UK, costing the economy £28.3 billion annually It can arise due to a variety of factors such as workload, deadlines, long working hours, poor working conditions, job insecurity and interpersonal conflicts, manifesting in many different physical symptoms. In order to tackle this, it’s important to understand that

while it may seem logical to blame all these symptoms on stress, there are common symptoms experienced in the workplace which may be linked to hormones instead.

Stress is linked to hormones in several ways; when you experience stress, the body releases cortisol

from the adrenal glands, increasing your heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. This is very helpful in the short term, but prolonged stress can lead to chronically elevated cortisol levels which can manifest in a weakened immune system, decreased bone density, depression and anxiety. It also dysregulates the body’s hypothalamic- pituitary- adrenal (HPA) axis, which negatively impacts sex hormone production, namely oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. When these hormones decline or become unbalanced, your body will let you know through various symptoms which can include:

  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Low energy levels
  • Weight gain
  • Lack of focus / brain fog


So, let’s look at some ways employees can manage their stress levels and keep their hormones balances in the workplace:

  1. Take up exercise a few times a week. Lifting weights is proven to boost testosterone levels in men and women, while gentle cardio helps keep oestrogen levels in check. Be sure to take regular breaks away from your desk, including a walk at lunchtime, so you’ll come back refreshed, boosting your productivity. If possible, make this a walk in nature, which boosts endorphins and makes us feel calmer.


  1. Ditch the caffeine after 3PM. Most of us rely on tea or coffee to get us through the day, but for many of us, it causes difficulty in getting to sleep, perpetuating the cycle of stress and hormone imbalance.


  1. Follow an anti-inflammatory diet. Which put simply, means unprocessed, fresh food, quality protein, healthy fats and an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. This will help promote balanced sex hormones


  1. Practice self-care. Recognise when you are feeling stressed or are experiencing hormonal imbalances and speak to management about it.


  1. Prioritise sleep and try to achieve seven to eight hours of undisturbed sleep per night. This is when the body restores and detoxifies itself, so quality sleep offers your body the best chance of restoring itself to optimum health.

It’s important for both employers and employees to recognise the signs and symptoms of work-related stress or symptoms of hormone imbalances and take proactive steps to address it before it becomes a chronic issue. If high stress levels are becoming overwhelming and disrupting your hormones, you may wish to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced hormone specialist who can prescribe personalised compounded medication to help you feel yourself again.

Anna Paci