Hi, I’m Katie Woodland (owner of Woodland Psychological Services Ltd over in Telford) and I’m really excited to be Paycare’s guest blogger this week. I’ll get to the more in-depth introduction about me a little later on in this post (so that you can get what you need really quickly) but I wanted to start by focusing on workplace stress…

I’m sure there’s no need for me to bombard you with hundreds of statistics and oodles of information about stress, and how much of a top priority it is to reduce it, because the media offers plenty of this pretty much every day. I do, however, want to share my ‘three shock stats’ in case you need something to convince other people in your organisation just how big an issue stress really is…

– 35% of all illnesses in the workplace are due to stress –

– up to 80% of all accidents in the workplace are due to stress –

– stress costs roughly £2k per employee per year –


Luckily, there are some super simple things you can do right now to alleviate stress:

Breathe | OK, so you are all breathing right now (hopefully…) but if you just alter the way you breathe, you can instantly cut off the cortisol (stress hormone), and epinephrine (fight / flight / freeze hormone) production in your body. All you do is shut your eyes and take six deep breaths in and out. According to science, six is the magic number in cutting off these two hormones, so don’t skimp!

Sing a Song | singing at the top of your voice (regardless of how likely you are to win the X Factor) produces a couple of great stress reduction hormones called endorphin and oxytocin. Endorphins are pleasure hormones (and produce the same high you get if you were to take morphine or other less legal opiates…). Oxytocin has been dubbed the ‘love hormone’, which gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling similar to when you hug someone (30 seconds is the optimum hug time for this hormone to be released). It also causes the body to relax, reduce anxieties, and feel more trusting – all of which reduce cortisol production in the body.

Feed Your Funny | I left my favourite until last because I love feeling good (and my singing voice causes untold havoc to glass objects…) If you haven’t already built up a bank of funny clips on YouTube, do it now. Try to limit them to between 40 seconds to one minute, and only choose clips that make you laugh so hard you feel like you might have an accident (and ones which you could repeatedly watch and still get the same reaction) Anything other than what really makes you laugh out loud won’t produce the same effect. Research shows that every time you watch something which makes you laugh, your body produces serotonin (the happy hormone) and stops cortisol and epinephrine production. What’s really interesting is that every time you watch something you find funny, you have the ability to recall the clip in your mind and the same process will happen. This means that you have an emergency stash of instant stress release in your head whenever you need it

If you loved these three stress relievers, then do feel free to click this link for your own complimentary mini guide on ‘How to Survive Your 9-5’ which includes a ‘how stressed are you?’ checklist and seven more tips for long-term stress reduction.

About Me

For those of you who chose to stick around, here’s a little bit about me… I run a little company, Woodland Psychological Services in Telford which supports people, businesses and schools with mental health by educating and empowering individuals to overcome difficulties and reach new heights in employee engagement.

14 years ago, I was facing a really difficult period in my life. I was working in retail, when my employer’s responsibility and care for its team was beyond poor and this had a dramatic effect on my own mental health. While the years following this time saw me moving through different retail stores, it was clear that many companies treated their staff in the same manner.

I later gave up on retail and decided to truly help people, which is when I set up Woodland Psychological Services. I try to help other people so they don’t have to go through the same things as I did, and I show employers and HR teams just some of the small changes they can implement to make a huge difference to workplace morale.

As an employer or HR professional, you can buck the trend in your organisation by applying small changes which will radically improve how your employees feel. For example, if your organisation’s vision and mission is not front and centre on every office wall, it needs to be – otherwise how will anyone know what they’re working towards?

I hope you’ve enjoyed my blog!

Katie Woodland