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Managing workplace stress

The old challenge of how to manage workplace stress is once again pushing its way up the business agenda.  As staff start returning to offices and the potential for work/life balance begins erodes, we ask renowned leadership expert, Jeremy Blain  ( and author of “The Inner CEO” ( for his views and some tips on how businesses can manage workplace stress.

“Many business leaders are not recognizing that stress is an important factor in workplace performance, health, motivation and engagement.  Positive stress is called ‘eustress’, but when the balance tips and it becomes more negative, it is ‘distress’.  Whilst we don’t want to eliminate stress completely, the key is getting the balance right.”

Tip 1 – Recognize and differentiate between good stress and negative stress:
“Eustress can be a good thing, helping our bodies and brains stay sharp and alert, ready to react to any surprises life throws in our way.  In fact, it is important we embrace positive stress as it can motivate and engage us in tasks and challenges.  Whereas, distress or chronic stress can be damaging, triggering a host of maladies including heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety.”

Tip 2 – Think like a professional sportsperson – one play at a time:
“Accept that you may win some and lose some – sometimes in streaks.  Stress can overwhelm us and often is built on when further pressures hit us or add to our to-do list.  When this happens, it feels like we are on a losing streak.   It is inevitable that some things must drop, so it is important to prioritize and tackle the things that really matter – like sportspeople – one play at a time.  Every new action needs to give you an opportunity for a new, positive mental approach to the task and to create early wins that build into winning streaks.”

Tip 3 – Practice emotional ‘moment-management’:
How many times have you read ‘that’ email from your boss on a Friday night, and it’s played on your mind over the weekend?  It is hard to compartmentalize at times.  But it is only one email in the context of so many other things.  Moment management allows you to take a step back and see the issue, message, challenge in the context of the bigger picture and allows you to consider your response then or later.  Once you have your decision, do it.  In this case, call your manager and talk it through.  It will relieve the stress valve.”

Tip 4 – Minimize & manage your internal monologue and the replaying of certain situations:
“This is easier said than done of course!  But much of our negative stress can seem even greater due to our internal thought processes, re-playing of the conversations or situations, regret, or other elements.  The internal monologue.  This can add a significant burden to some, and it takes self-coaching, sharing with others and often talking it through for clarity to emerge.”

Tip 5 – Think of people you admire as being resilient and develop some of the most suited traits for yourself:
“Talk to them and ask them how they handle stress and deal with pressure.  It will help!”

Tip 6 – Invest in and look after yourself – healthy body, healthy mind:
“Practice wellbeing techniques, get out in the open air.  Play sports, go for a walk.  All of these allow you to reclaim your space and provide thinking time or even time out from what stressors are impacting you.  Thirty minutes of exercise will kick-start your brain’s release of feel-good endorphins.  It’s why we often feel better about things after we do gym activities or team sports, or when we have gone for a walk.”

“The pandemic has had a dramatic impact on organizations, but it shouldn’t have taken a global pandemic to push people’s health and wellbeing to the top of the corporate agenda.  Whilst many businesses’ response to combating COVID-19 has centred around doing all they can to keep people safe, moving forward senior leadership teams need to ensure employers view employee health and wellbeing as being embedded – and taken seriously – across the entire organization.  For every business building a healthy workplace needs to be an integral part in building a successful business.”
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