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Understanding the Link Between Stress and Accidents: Tips for Managing Stress

Last updated: April 9, 2023

Stress is normal in day-to-day life and can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Symptoms of stress can show up in physical, emotional, or cognitive ways. 

Some stress can even be helpful, motivating you to perform better. However, too much stress can have negative effects on your overall health and well-being, and increase the risk of accidents. 

How are Accidents Linked to Stress?

Accidents can be caused by many different factors, and stress is one of them. When you experience stress, your body enters into fight or flight mode. Your brain sends you a “stress response” signal which tells your body to release cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. When your body stays in this state for a prolonged period of time you may see effects in the following ways.


Excessive stress can leave you feeling physically fatigued. This may show up as:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep problems
  • Weakened immune system
  • Upset stomach
  • Chest pain

These physical reactions to stress can impair your concentration and decision-making abilities, which can contribute to the cause of accidents. 


Prolonged stress can cause you to feel mentally exhausted. This may look like:

  • Lack of focus
  • Forgetfulness
  • Indecision
  • Excessive worrying
  • Lack of motivation
  • Difficulty sleeping

Mental stress can impair your cognitive functioning, including memory and attention, which may also increase the likelihood of accidents.


Chronic stress can take a toll on you emotionally, as well. It may cause you to feel:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Impatient
  • Overwhelmed
  • Sad or tearful

The emotional instability created by stress can lead to poor judgment, decreased motivation, and impulsive behavior. All of these symptoms can increase the risk of you causing an accident. 

If you are feeling the physical, mental, and emotional symptoms of stress, you are likely not operating at your full capacity. 

You may be preoccupied at work because you feel more tired than usual and skip an important safety step, causing harm to you, someone else, or work equipment.

You might be so stressed that you’re unable to focus while cooking and accidentally grab a hot pan with your bare hands. 

You might get cut off in traffic and let your emotions get the best of you, causing you to react with road rage, speeding, or engaging in other risky behavior that increases the likelihood of an accident. 

These symptoms can all take your attention away from the task at hand and make you to cause an accident.

Accidents can be caused at work, on the road, or at home, and may cause you to hurt yourself or others. If you’ve been feeling more stressed than usual, try the following tips for stress management. 

6 Tips for Managing Stress

1. Identify the Cause 

Before you can treat your chronic stress, you need to identify where it is coming from. Stress can come from a variety of sources, such as relationships, work, health issues, finances, and more.

Once you’ve identified what is causing you stress, you can develop coping strategies for it. For example, if you determine that work is the source of your stress you may want to talk with your supervisor about reducing your workload or taking some time off to recharge. 

2. Try Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques like breathwork, yoga, and meditation can help you to reduce your stress levels naturally. These techniques work by helping you to calm your mind and body and elevate your mood. Practicing these techniques in your daily routine can help you manage your stress effectively and help prevent accidents. 

3. Exercise 

Exercising regularly can help to reduce your levels of stress and improve both your physical and mental health. Exercising causes your body to release endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. Endorphins also help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Exercise can also improve the quality of your sleep, which may also help with reducing stress levels. 

4. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is imperative for your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Lack of sleep can cause your stress levels to spike, impact your mood, and impair your cognitive functions. However, getting enough sleep can help you effectively manage stress. Most experts recommend getting between seven to eight hours of sleep every night. 

5. Give Yourself Breaks

Taking short, periodic breaks throughout the day can reduce your stress levels by helping you to recharge, refocus and improve your concentration and decision-making abilities. Taking breaks can also help you to reduce the physical symptoms of stress such as headaches and muscle tension. 

6. Find Support

Seeking support from family, friends, or a mental health professional can significantly reduce your stress levels and help to improve your overall well-being. Talking about what you’re feeling can help you to feel less isolated, and gain some perspective. A mental health professional can provide helpful coping strategies you can use to manage your stress. Seeking support may help you to identify any additional, underlying issues that may be contributing to your stress. 

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Chloe Powers
Chloe works with policymakers on behalf of Disability Help to support their work at a strategic level, ensuring the conditions are in place for creative individuals and organizations to grow, reach their potential and effect relevant, sustainable change.
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