Am I stressed?

Sleep problems and difficulty concentrating can be symptoms of stress. But stress often sneaks up on you and can be difficult to cope with. Read about the causes of stress and get help to assess whether you are stressed or at risk of becoming stressed.

On this page you can find answers to the most important questions about stress.

What is stress?

Having a busy life is not the same as being stressed, but if you've been under pressure for too long, your body may start to react.

Stress is the body's natural response to being overloaded and it is not dangerous for a short period of time. In fact, short-term stress helps us perform better by increasing concentration, among other things.

But prolonged stress can have serious health consequences. Stress is not a disease in itself, but it can cause serious symptoms and lead to both physical and mental illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and depression, and can exacerbate chronic conditions.

Having a stressful work situation for a long time can also lead to burnout, which is similar to depression. Burnout is characterized as a feeling of physical and mental exhaustion and loss of interest in your work and your surroundings.

Use the stress staircase to assess whether you are at the risk of becoming ill with stress in your job:

Are you stressed?

Then you can contact IDA's Legal Department by creating a case on the IDA website. You will then be contacted by one of IDA's legal advisors.

Contact IDA's Legal Department

How do I identify stress symptoms?

Stress often sneaks up on you because the symptoms gradually get worse. They can be physical, mental and behavioural, and the severity and duration of symptoms of stress vary greatly from person to person.

So this is not a definitive checklist for stress, but if you notice any of these symptoms, you should take them seriously:

  • Physical signs: Stomachache, headache, visual disturbances, dizziness, sweating, appetite and sleep disturbances, anxiety attacks, chest pain, faster heartbeat, shortness of breath, blackouts, chronic fatigue.
  • Psychological signs: The urge to isolate, lack of energy for socialising, short temper, crying, difficulty concentrating and being forgetful.
  • Behavioural signs: Aggressiveness, indecisiveness, lack of commitment, reduced performance, increased use of stimulants, increased sick leave.

Stress can be hard to talk about. Not being able to handle your usual tasks can feel like a failure. Recognition is the first step to understanding that you need help, so it's important to listen to your colleagues, family, and friends if they are concerned about you, as typically those around you will respond to your change in behaviour more quickly than you will.

Guide: Learn more about stress symptoms and dealing with stress (opens in new window)

What should I do if I have symptoms of stress?

If you have a good relationship with your manager, you should start by talking to him or her if you feel overloaded or experience symptoms of stress.

You can also contact IDA or your GP if you are not comfortable talking to your manager. When you talk to your GP, you should tell them about all the symptoms you are experiencing, especially those that are affecting your ability to work. Based on your conversation, the doctor can assess whether you need sick leave or whether you need to take other steps to reduce your symptoms of stress.

It is also important that you tell people you know — such as family and friends — about your situation. Stress is difficult to deal with because it affects your cognitive functions and makes everything more overwhelming. That's why it can be very helpful to get support from your family and friends, so that they can also help you structure your everyday life and seek professional help so that your symptoms don't get worse.

Log in and write to IDA about stress

Can I prevent stress?

There can be several causes of stress — both in the workplace and in private life. If you feel that your work tasks or your own or other people's expectations to you are too demanding, you should talk to your manager and get help to prioritise your work. If your manager does not respond to the fact that you feel stressed or overloaded, you should contact your union representative, health and safety representative, or IDA.

In your personal life, you can do a number of things to prevent stress, but healthy eating and meditation are not enough on their own if you are in a highly stressful work environment or life situation. However, it is always a good idea to prioritise your health by adopting healthy habits:

  • Spend your free time doing things that make you happy. This could be a hobby or socialising with family and friends.
  • Exercise on a weekly basis.
  • Get a good night's sleep.
  • Eat a healthy and varied diet.
  • Find time to relax: go for a walk, try meditation or yoga, read a book or just give yourself time to do nothing.

Read about preventing stress

Get IDA’s booklet on stress free of charge

Do you have emerging stress symptoms, or would you like to prevent stress? Get our free booklet on preventing and dealing with stress. It contains concrete tools for understanding, preventing, and dealing with stress in your daily life.

Order stress booklet

Can I take sick leave if I experience stress?

In principle, it is up to your GP to assess whether you should take sick leave or not if you experience stress. The sick leave can be either part-time or full-time, depending on the severity of your symptoms. When talking to your doctor, you should talk about all your symptoms of stress, and especially those that affect your ability to work the most.

If your employer wants proof that you cannot work because of your stress symptoms, they can ask for a sick note (medical certificate). Your employer will have to pay for the sick note, so you will have to pass on the bill from your doctor to your employer. When your employer asks for a sick note, it is a good idea to get their request in writing in case there is a dispute later about who should pay.

Read our FAQ about stress-related sick-leave

How do I report a stress-related sick leave?

If your doctor recommends that you take sick leave if you experience stress, you should follow your workplace's rules for reporting sick. You can typically find the rules in your employer's staff handbook.

If you are self-employed, you can get sickness benefits from your local municipality if you are on sick leave due to stress.

You can read more about the rules and procedure on

If you are both employed and self-employed, you can get assistance from IDA's legal department.

Contact IDA's legal advisors regarding sick leave.

Can I take sick leave if I experience stress if I am unemployed, self-employed or on leave?

  • Self-employed: You can get sickness benefit from the municipality if you cannot work because of illness or injury. In principle, you must live in Denmark and pay taxes here. You can read more about the rules at If you have two jobs and your sick leave is concentrated solely in your main job, you can continue in a second job. However, you must be very careful not to appear recovered from the stress diagnosis which led to your sick leave from your main job. Therefore, consult your doctor before continuing in a second job when you are on sick leave for stress.
  • Leave: You can normally take sick leave if you are on leave, but we always recommend that you contact IDA's legal advisors for advice first.

Log in and get help from IDA's legal advisers

Can I get paid while on sick leave?

 If you are employed as a salaried employee and on sick leave with stress, you are entitled to pay even if you do not work because you are sick.