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How to minimise stress at work

This week is Careers Week, so we're talking about the challenges young people with epilepsy face in the workplace. Living with epilepsy can mean facing stigma and misconceptions, especially when it comes to employment opportunities. Let's have a look at some of the most often asked questions when it comes to epilepsy and work.

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Navigating your career with epilepsy

Work can be stressful enough without adding an invisible disability into the mix. Here are our top three tips to help you decrease anxiety, feeling overwhelmed and cope with stress in the workplace. 

1. Be open and honest from the get-go

 Make sure your employer knows about your epilepsy*. You can tell your line manager or, if you have an HR department, you could share your story with them. They are there to help and will be able to help you feel more at ease,and deal with stress, by making ‘reasonable adjustments’ in the workplace. 

 But, what exactly are ‘reasonable adjustments’?   

 Epilepsy is defined as a disability under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (NI) & The Equality Act 2010 (Scotland, England and Wales); laws which protect you from discrimination. Legally, employers have a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled people, including those with epilepsy to support access to work. They also have a duty to undertake regular health and safety risk assessments for all employees.

 Adjustments can be as simple as moving to a different desk. If being too hot is one of your triggers, moving to a desk beside a window would be a reasonable adjustment. From flexible working hours, and slightly extended deadlines, to specialist equipment which will help counteract stress as you work; there are many different ways your employer can help you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

2. Have a care plan in place

 Work together with your manager to pull together a plan so they know exactly what to do should you have a seizure at work. It should include:  

  •  Details of your epilepsy. Your triggersWhich kind of seizures you have, what usually happens whilst you’re having one, how long do they usually last and a list of what medications are you taking. 
  • What to do when you are having a seizure. This will vary from person to person, however, no matter which types of seizures you have, someone should stay with you until the seizure ends. Some seizures, such as tonic clonics will require the surrounding area to be cleared, making sure that there are no objects around which could hurt you. You can find more first aid information you can add into your care plan.
  • What to do once the seizure has ended. This varies from person to person. If you tend to recover from a seizure quite quickly, you may just need to have a short rest in a quiet room until you feel ready to get back to work. If you take longer to recover from a seizure, you may need to go home. Make sure your care plan has details on where you live, how you should travel, and whether you will need assistance from a family member or friend getting home following a seizure. 
  • Emergency Contact details. These are details your employer should already have on file, but it doesn’t hurt to have them included in your care plan too. 

 Add anything that is important and specific to you into your care plan. Having a plan in place will give you peace of mind and help reduce stress. 

3. Practice simple stress-busters 

 Here are three stress-busting exercises you can practice to discreetly relieve stress at work: 

  1.  Take a short break. Go for a walk, do some easy stretches, or practice deep breathing to restore balance. 
  2. A simple deep breathing exercise; inhale for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds and exhale for 5 seconds through the nose. 
  3. Give mental counting a go, start at 50, close your eyes and count backwards to 1. 

If you are experiencing stress in the workplace, visit our Mental Health Wellbeing Space to find more advice and support for stress management. If you feel stressed and would like to talk, or you’d like some help pulling together a care plan, please contact us.  


*Please note that you may not be required to tell your employer about your epilepsy however, in order to reap the benefits of reasonable adjustments, we would advise that you do! If your epilepsy could affect your safety or the safety of others at work, then you are required to tell your employer.