Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (or CBT) is a tried and tested therapy method, offering psycho-social intervention to improve various mental health conditions. As well as cognitive behavioural therapy for sleep anxiety, it can also help with stress, depression, and phobias.

In this post, we look at how CBT offers coping skills for anxiety. We’ll explore the effects of anxiety on daily life and how businesses can support their employees in managing stress and anxiety at work.

Stress and anxiety in the workplace

In a modern world of rapidly accelerating technological advancements, economic hardships and the ever-changing nature of the work environment, it’s not uncommon for employees to experience work-related stress and anxiety about their present and future circumstances.

According to the HSE, one in four people in the UK will have a mental health problem at some point in their lives, and, according to a study conducted by the Mental Health Foundation, 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions

With anxiety and depression being among the most common mental health problems in the UK, and statistics shining a light on the prevalence of work-related stress and burn out, it’s no wonder employers are looking for ways to support their employees’ mental wellbeing in the workplace.

What is workplace wellbeing?

Workplace wellbeing refers to the overall state of health, happiness, and satisfaction of employees within their work environment. It encompasses a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional factors that contribute to a person's sense of well-being while they are at work. The goal of promoting workplace wellbeing is to create an environment that supports employees' health, both physically and mentally, and fosters a positive and productive atmosphere.

Physical Health

This involves providing a workspace that is ergonomically designed to prevent physical strain, access to healthy snacks or meals, opportunities for physical activity, and policies that encourage regular breaks and rest.

Mental Health

Employers should promote mental wellness by reducing stressors where possible, offering resources for managing stress, and creating an open culture that encourages communication about mental health challenges. This could involve access to counselling services, stress management workshops, mindfulness sessions, or flexible work arrangements.

Work-Life Balance

Encouraging a healthy balance between work and personal life can help prevent burnout. This means implementing things like flexible working hours, remote work options, and policies that respect employees' personal time, which contributes to improved overall wellbeing.

Social Connection

Encouraging collaborative teamwork, providing opportunities for social interactions, and promoting a sense of belonging can foster positive relationships among colleagues, further enhancing wellbeing in the workplace.

Career Development

Offering opportunities for skill development, career growth, and advancement can contribute to an employee's sense of purpose and satisfaction within their role.

Recognition and Feedback

Recognising and acknowledging employees' contributions, providing constructive feedback, and ensuring clear communication about job expectations can help to enhance motivation and job satisfaction.

Health Promotion

Implementing wellness programs that focus on healthy habits such as regular exercise, healthy eating, and stress reduction positively impact employees' overall health and wellbeing.

Inclusivity and Diversity

Fostering an inclusive and diverse workplace where all employees feel valued and respected contributes to a positive work environment and improved overall wellbeing.

Workload and Expectations

Managing workloads and expectations, and ensuring that they are realistic and achievable, is crucial to prevent feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed.

Physical Environment

A comfortable and safe physical workspace with adequate lighting, ventilation, and facilities contributes to employees' comfort and wellbeing.

Employers who prioritise workplace wellbeing often see benefits such as increased employee engagement, higher job satisfaction, improved retention rates, and enhanced overall productivity. Not to mention the cost that can be saved in sickness leave when employees feel content and supported in their place of work.

How does CBT relate to workplace wellbeing

CBT for anxiety therapy examines the employee’s problems, thoughts and behavioural patterns to work out ways of changing their negative thoughts and behaviours. Its aim is to control, reduce or stop damaging thought cycles by making them more manageable.

Here are the top 10 ways CBT can improve workplace mental wellbeing:

1. Stress Management

Workplace stress is a common concern that can negatively impact employees' well-being. CBT techniques can help individuals recognise and reframe negative thought patterns related to stressors, teaching them how to cope more effectively and reduce the emotional toll of work-related pressures.

2. Anxiety and Depression

As we outlined earlier on in this article, anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health issues in the UK, and both can affect an individual's ability to function optimally at work. CBT provides tools to challenge and reframe distorted thinking that contributes to these conditions, promoting a more positive outlook and emotional resilience in the workplace.

3. Workplace Performance

Negative self-perceptions and low self-esteem can hinder workplace performance and prevent employees from integrating properly into the team. CBT helps individuals improve self-esteem by addressing self-critical thoughts and promoting a healthier self-image, which in turn can lead to greater confidence and better job performance.

4. Conflict Resolution

CBT equips individuals with communication and problem-solving skills that can be applied to resolving workplace conflicts. By focusing on changing negative thought patterns and promoting effective interpersonal strategies, CBT can contribute to a more harmonious work environment.

5. Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance, as a concept, is something we started to hear about a lot in the media over the last decade, and it’s incredibly important to prevent burn out. CBT can help individuals set and maintain boundaries between work and personal life. By addressing unhealthy thought patterns that may lead to overworking or neglecting personal time, employees can achieve a better work-life balance and reduce the risk of burnout.

6. Goal Setting and Achievement

CBT techniques, such as setting realistic and achievable goals, can enhance workplace motivation and productivity. By breaking down larger tasks into manageable steps and addressing any self-doubt, individuals can improve their focus and persistence in pursuing professional objectives.

7. Resilience Building

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from challenges. CBT helps individuals develop cognitive skills to manage setbacks and adapt to changes more effectively, contributing to increased resilience in the face of workplace stressors.

8. Emotional Regulation

Overall, emotionally intelligent individuals are better equipped to navigate workplace dynamics. CBT teaches strategies to manage and regulate emotions, helping employees respond constructively to stressful situations and maintain healthy relationships with colleagues.

9. Leadership and Communication

For leaders and managers, CBT can improve communication skills, decision-making processes, and conflict management abilities. This, in turn, fosters a healthier work environment and supports the well-being of both leaders and their teams.

10. Prevention of Burnout

By addressing negative thought patterns and promoting self-care strategies, CBT can play a crucial role in preventing burnout, which is a significant threat to workplace wellbeing.

As well as CBT strategies for social anxiety, this form of therapy also helps with many other conditions, including:

  • Bipolar disorder.
  • Borderline personality disorder.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
  • Panic disorder.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Supporting employees with cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety
  • Providing your staff with access to CBT services can have a variety of positive effects for your employees and business in general.

How to incorporate CBT for work related stress and anxiety

Incorporating CBT principles and techniques into workplace wellbeing initiatives can lead to more resilient, motivated, and emotionally balanced employees. Some organisations offer CBT-based counselling services, workshops or resources to help employees manage stress, enhance coping skills, and improve their overall mental health within the context of their work environment.

By using a professional service, your staff can engage with an expert who’ll offer effective CBT techniques for anxiety.

Three techniques often taught are:

  1. Focusing on how feelings aren’t permanent and are able to change with time.
  2. Thinking it over and acting like normal. This involves controlling the feeling of anxiety with behaviours that alter the feedback to the fear response system.
  3. Investigating the underlying assumption and coming to logical conclusions.

When done correctly, anxiety counselling should be able to identify and breakdown problems into five areas. These are the main basis on which CBT was built.

Experts believe these areas are interconnected and can affect each other. These are:

  • Situations.
  • Thoughts.
  • Emotions.
  • Physical feelings.
  • Actions.

CBT for anxiety: worksheets

While the time the employee spends with the counsellor is important, a key aspect of the change process is independent homework.

It involves using tools and resources to help sufferers consider their thinking.

Worksheets, for example, are a series of questions designed as a systematic guide. It aims to lead employees through the process of identifying their negative thinking patterns and changing them.

If you need any assistance with these resources, you can get in touch with us for support.

Further Learning

If you’d like to find out more about the mental health courses Maudsley Learning offer for businesses and large organisations, get in touch, or email us at to enquire about bespoke courses.

For information on any of the topics mentioned in this article, please contact Health Assured on 0844 891 0357.