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4 Ways to Recognize and Address Obstacles in Stress Management and Resiliency

Four Corporate Health Promotion Professionals Share Their Strategies for Addressing Stress at Work

While some workplace stress is normal, continued and excessive stress interferes with productivity and negatively impacts the well being of employees. But you are not powerless. Find ways to manage workplace stress, and focus on the things that are always in your control.

The Root Cause of Stress

Founder of Emotional Brain Training, Dr. Laurel Mellin, says the root cause of stress and stress-related problems is the circuitry stored in the emotional brain. In a WELCOA expert interview, Dr. Mellin shares her Five Brain States in Emotional Brain Training.

The States of Stress

STATE 1: The first state is the best for your health.

  • You feel great
  • You have no drives for excess
  • You are creative
  • You are cooperative
  • You are loving
  • You are compassionate
  • You are full of energy and cannot wait to go for a walk

STATE 2: Here, we feel present, but we aren’t glowing. You do not feel the warmth of knowing that you are doing the right thing or doing things that matter most for the planet and for other people.

STATE 3: This is where we begin to feel a little stressed. Our emotions, especially negative ones, start to increase and our thoughts become more rigid.

STATE 4: By this state we are definitely stressed. We feel needy, distant and disconnected.

STATE 5: At this state, we are stressed out! Our brains a wired to be rewarded with unstoppable drives for artificial responses. This could be technology, sugar, alcohol or watching television. All of these are strong emotional drives.

When employees don’t have the skills to check in with themselves throughout the day and clear away that stress, rather than being happy with their family and friends, by the end of the day they are going to be at brain state four or five. They are going to start blaming themselves for the excesses of the eveningand they might now even want unhealthy food or a long night of television. They are simply lacking the skills to spiral up out of their four or five state.

Our emotional brains all work the same. In an article with the Daily Good, Mellin shares her strategies for improved brain health. Mellin explains that these tools work the same no matter what your age, gender, or any other way of categorizing people. The tools work the same because the emotional brain is something we all have.

Coping with Stress

So how do we deal with all of this stress? Jim Porter, President of, believes that stress management and resiliency training is an important part of leading wellness programs. Porter describes the many ways people deal with stress last on their self-care list and ways in which chronic stress could impact your health.

Chronic stress could lead to any of the following health risks:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Auto immune disorders
  • Recurrent colds
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Colitis/irritable bowel syndrome
  • Infertility/ED
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Diabetes
  • Migraine headaches
  • Chronic pain

Many of these conditions can be brought about by stress but also by other things as well. Consult with your doctor to determine the root cause.

Why people put stress last:

  1. People treat their stress like a badge of honor. It feels good to say you are busy all the time.
  2. People think relaxation is akin to laziness. If we’re relaxing, we must not be working hard enough.
  3. Doctors get little or no training in stress-related conditions.
  4. Doctors usually prescribe a pill that only masks the symptoms of stress.
  5. Pills only address the symptoms, not the source of the problem.

The Basics of Resiliency

Resiliency means different things depending on who you talk to. But more than just bouncing back from a traumatic event, or coping with our chronic stress, resiliency is grace under pressure. Dr. Brian Luke Seaward, best-selling author and expert in the field of stress management and corporate health promotion, believes resiliency is the latest buzzword in wellness circles. After meeting Nelson Mandela several years ago, Dr. Seaward began to shape the way he spoke and facilitate his resiliency training. When he asked Nelson Mandela what helped him conquer the stress of the experiences he’d endured, he shared this poem.


Out of the night that covers me,

    Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

    For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

    I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

    My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

    Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

    Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

    How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

    I am the captain of my soul.

— William Ernest Henley

Seaward frequently illustrates the basics of resiliency through inspirational stories of people who epitomize the triumph of the human spirit. These are the traits Seaward believes they each have in common. These are characteristics that each of us behold. But we have to put them to work.

Muscles of the Soul

  • Humor
  • Patience
  • Forgiveness
  • Optimism
  • Compassion

Beating Burnout

“The ability to adapt to life’s tasks in a health constructive manner is a measure of resilience.” – Dr. Jeff Jernigan

By understanding what causes stress, how it impacts our health, and understanding the characteristics we behold that might help us cope with stress, we can begin to develop resiliency and beat burnout.

Dr. Jeff Jerningan, CEO of the Hidden Value Group, believes that stress and burnout are important topics for worksite wellness teams to study. 9 in 10 people do not manage stress in their lives adequately. Taking care of the whole person includes helping employees learn how to recognize and respond to their personal stress before they reach burnout. Dr. Jernigan provides some helpful hints for looking for those signs, symptoms and changes in behavior.

Impact of Burnout on the Organization

These are the more intangible things that come out of burnout in the workplace:

  • Higher absenteeism
  • Lower performance
  • More work errors
  • Increase in disciplinary issues
  • Higher risk of violence in the workplace
  • More compensating behaviors (i.e. substance abuse)

These are the more measurable things that an employer is going to be concerned about:

  • Increase in employee lawsuits
  • Deteriorating relationships with customers
  • Lost revenue
  • Key personnel turnover
  • Replacement costs

Without a doubt, workplace stress has an impact on your health. Considering the strategies provided by the individuals in this article, it is possible to feel part of a workplace that is meaningful and that buffers against the health effects of stress.

Quick Guide to Beating Burnout

This interactive quick guide will help you address staff resiliency and burnout and provide relevant and timely support for those that need it. Explore Dr. Jeff Jernigan’s Five Strategies to Beat Burnout.

Download the Quick Guide