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Stress and Dyslexia

Monday 22 April 2024

Are your dyslexic challenges worse when you are stressed?

April is stress awareness month. A recent BDA poll on social media revealed that 98% of those voting on Twitter and 97% on LinkedIn agreed that their dyslexic challenges are worse when they are stressed.[i] With some followers commenting that when they are stressed they are more likely to misread things, become muddled, and forget words.

Stress usually happens in response to a mental or emotional pressure or may be experienced when a person feels that they have no control over something that is happening. In the workplace, stress may be driven by the demands of the job; concerns about performance; being unable to control the way the work is done; lack of support; difficult relationships, or workplace bullying.

Dyslexia is a hidden condition so many of the signs are not obvious or understood, and dyslexic challenges in the workplace may go unnoticed or be misinterpreted as a lack of ability, laziness, poor behaviour, or conduct. Many feel unable to disclose their dyslexia and so they work hard to become adept at hiding their challenges but live with the fear that their difficulties will be discovered. Undisclosed dyslexia can also mean that they are unable to request the reasonable adjustments that may help. So dyslexia may also be adding to their stress, which in turn increases the impact of their dyslexic challenges.

But why does this happen? When people are stressed or highly anxious the body produces hormones which divert essential resources from the brain to the large muscles in the body in preparation for “fight and flight.” This impacts the ability to think and process information. Dyslexia presents challenges with processing information, and these are exacerbated when people are stressed, so tasks become more difficult to complete, it is more difficult to concentrate, and coping strategies become less effective.

The causes of stress can be many and varied. The NHS advises that the first step in managing stress is to understand what is causing it and take control of the situation.

[i] Polls conducted April 2024 Twitter 116 votes: 98.3% Yes: 1.7 % No | LinkedIn 721 votes: 97% Yes:3% No

To find out more about dyslexia in the workplace sign up for our free guide for employees

The Stress Management Society have also shared some helpful resources for #stressawarenessmonth2024

Stress guide: Download here

Small actions to make big changes: Download here
Little by little: A little becomes a lot: Download here