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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in the Workplace
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Stress outside of work

Many things in people's lives outside work can cause them stress, for example:


  • Death (of a loved one)
  • Divorce or separation from a partner
  • Marriage
  • Pregnancy
  • Holidays
  • Changes in health of a family member or close friend
  • Trouble with in-laws
  • Family arguments
  • Children leaving home
  • Childcare
  • Remarriage of a family member
  • Caring for other dependents, such as elderly relatives
  • Family reunion
  • Relationship breakdown or having a long-distance relationship

Personal or social issues

  • Change in financial state, or debt or money worries
  • Changes in personal habits such as giving up smoking, going on a diet.
  • Problems with weight
  • Experiencing prejudice or discrimination
  • Lack of friends or support
  • Personal injury or illness

Daily hassles

  • Traffic jams
  • Public transport
  • Time pressures
  • Car troubles


  • Moving house, including taking out a mortgage
  • Difficulties with neighbours
  • Living with someone with an alcohol, drug problem or other addiction.
  • (If studying) a deadline for coursework, exam results or trying to balance work and study
  • Unemployment
  • Poor living environment

Do I have to do anything about stress outside work?

You don't have to, but it's good if you do. If you think about people's personal lives and outside stressors, you will be able to anticipate stressful times.

Your employee is not obliged to tell you their personal problems, but there are some practical things you could do to support them:

  • Be sympathetic and proactive. Arrange a confidential meeting with the person, allowing them the opportunity to discuss any problems they wish and allowing you time to voice your own concerns. It may help to clarify whether the person’s problems are work related or personal.
  • Be flexible. Consider offering the person more flexible working hours, or even offer them some paid time off to deal with their problems.
  • Offer outside support. If appropriate, you could suggest they visit their doctor and allow them time off to do so. You could also suggest support groups.
  • Outline the support and services your organisation offers. For example, your organisation may have a work–life balance initiative in place. These are benefits, policies, or programmes that help balance out job demands and a healthy life outside work. They can include:
    • childcare services;
    • flexible working arrangements;
    • family leave policies;
    • employee assistance programmes; or
    • fitness programmes.

Programmes of this kind can work effectively to

    • retain staff;
    • improve morale;
    • reduce sickness absence and stress; and
    • increase productivity and commitment.

Health & Safety Executiv
e guidance reproduced within this section of our website is done so under the terms of an
Open Government Licence

Causes of Stress
Signs & symptoms
Stress at work
Stress outside of work
Why take action?
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