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Maintaining Healthy Workplaces: Managing Stress Through Resiliency

It is important to maintain both a healthy mindset and a healthy workplace in these changing times.  People have been impacted by many lifestyle and workplace changes, which may have caused them stress.  One of the major mental forces in combatting stress is resiliency, which strengthens our ability to deal with change and burnout.

Stress can compromise our ability to think clearly and see situations as they actually are, instead of what our anxious minds are telling us that they are.  When mental stress is coupled with  physical manifestations of stress, it can be difficult to practice positive wellness habits like exercising regularly, eating nutritional food, and getting a good night’s sleep.

What are some signs of stress?


Our bodies react physically to stress, worry, and anxiety resulting in:

  • Headaches
  • Clenched jaw
  • Back aches
  • Tight muscles
  • Panic attacks
  • Muscle tics and spasms



Even though stress is very much an emotional reaction, our mental capacity and outlook can be affected by:

  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Moodiness and irritability
  • Persistent distressing thoughts
  • Hopelessness
  • Loneliness
  • Anger and
  • Fear


Work Performance 

Peak performance in the workplace often depends on being able to focus on your tasks, without interference from undue stress.

  • Reduction in your expected quality of work
  • Reduction in your required quantity of work
  • Reduction of your morale and demeanor

All of this can lead to a  Reduction in overall performance.

How does stress affect work?    

Everyone copes with stress differently, and it is important to understand how it impacts the workplace.

Some characteristic signs of stress are:

  • Low task requirements memory
  • Unable to focus on work
  • Often feeling unmotivated or overwhelmed
  • Missing deadlines
  • Not completing your portion of team tasks
  • Excessive procrastination
  • Sub-par deliverables


The may result in:

  • Capability self-doubt
  • Guilt over performance reduction or
  • Fear of job security


Fear is a powerful emotion and can lead to a lack of self-governing abilities, called amygdala hijack, which is named for the affected part of our primal brain when emotion takes over from logic.

Since self-governing is a key factor in our ability to react appropriately to situations, amygdala hijack can create unanticipated tensions and conflicts,  misunderstandings and disrupt the workplace.  Resulting in a reduction in the effectiveness of work teams.

How Does Resiliency Help?

Resiliency keeps amygdala hijack (an immediate overwhelming personal, emotional response) in check. It is the antidote to fear, worry, stress, and anxiety.

Resiliency creates a healthy psychological ability to bounce back from setback, fears, or disappointments. It is natural for some, but everyone can learn to be more resilient than they are right now.

Being resilient cam can lead to a realistic optimism in times of adversity that says, “this too shall pass.” Resiliency allows you to move past the discomforting times of the now, and onto the possibilities of the future”.

A Resilient Outlook:

Resiliency is a powerful coping mechanism during times of uncertainty.

Resilient people are focused on reality and are able to have realistic expectations during difficult situations. They are willing to try different ways of problem solving, and do not view unsuccessful attempts at solutions as failure, but rather as piloting an idea that can now be eliminated. Because they are focused on the big picture, they can work towards future goals.

Resilient people understand their own limitations and know when to ask for assistance.

Resilient Approaches:

Adjusting behaviour can boost resiliency.

Seeing oneself as others are seeing you during interactions (self-awareness) is an excellent self-governing tool.

If one experiences disquieting emotions  during  interactions with others,  it is important to ask for clarification. Most people are not intentionally trying to offend or upset you and are more than happy to rephrase their intended message.

An objective view of your workplace situation when relating to others fosters empathy.

If an attempt at rectifying a challenging situation does not prove to be the solution, don’t be afraid to try Plan B.

Resilient people think of more than one way to resolve a situation, creating more choices to generate options and solutions.

Resiliency is a skill that gets stronger with practice.

What Increases Resiliency?

  • Consider the source of your concerns
  • Determine if concerns are realistic, or amygdala hijack
  • Become more self-aware, and ask for clarification during interactions if you feel that someone is being unduly harsh
  • Look at your concerns and possible solutions objectively
  • Use wellness or creativity to feel better about it
  • Seek professional help if you need assistance, and remember…
  • Your resiliency gets stronger the more it is practiced


Benefits of a psychologically healthy workplace

As an employer, there are many ways in which you can help create a psychologically healthy and safe workplace. Building a supportive work environment that promotes mental well-being has benefits for everyone and keeps your workforce strong and competitive.   As mentioned by, the following improvements have been observed when mental health is a priority in the workplace:


  • engagement
  • morale
  • satisfaction
  • retention and recruitment
  • productivity



  • absenteeism
  • grievances
  • health costs
  • medical leave/disability
  • workplace injuries


Additional Resources:  (

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has developed Healthy Minds@Work. This is a hub of tools and resources to support workplace parties in their efforts to address psychological health and safety in the workplace.Other tools and resources are also available:


HR Proactive Inc. has been building Respectful Workplaces Since 1997. We can assist your organization to design and develop healthy workplace strategies and  programs.

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