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  • Writer's pictureSteve Crabb

Why emotional stress is what you think it is

One of my favourite quotes comes from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If”.

“If you can keep your head while all around you are losing theirs, maybe you don’t really understand what’s going on”.

Okay, not exactly Mr Kipling’s words but my variation and sometimes it’s good not to understand what’s going on especially if people are getting stressed about it.

Emotional stress is a natural occurrence for the average human being (or domesticated primate) an evolutionary response to a real or perceived threat. Nice to know you have it, if ever chased by a grizzly bear or if you find yourself waking down a dark alley in a strange part of town late at night or are about to take any other really dumb decision or action.

Stress management and flight or fight
Stress management and flight or fight

It’s useful to have a mechanism that is looking to protect you. Emotional stress is only ever a problem if there is no threat or the protection mechanism is over protecting and for too long.

There are many very ways effective methods for managing stress, one simple way is to change the way you perceive a situation. To literally get a new perspective, known as reframing.

Reframing is where you change how you perceive,interpret and respond to an experience.

The way people perceivean experience or problem influences the possible solutions or options they see and have available to them. The way they interpret is influenced by their experiences (including beliefs and capabilities) as well as their emotional state at the time of the event. A reframe of an experience means the person can choose how they respond rather then simply react (which is an automatic unconscious decision.) to an event or situation.

Reframing involves presenting an alternative possible explanation, or interpretation of an experience and one of the simplest ways to practice reframing is to keep it simple and play with “simple one word reframing.”

In the poem above if everyone else is losing their heads because of a “problem” consider how many different ways (using one word) you can interpret the word problem.

  • Problem = challenge.

  • Problem = opportunity

  • Problem = event

  • Problem = situation

You get the idea.

Change the word and you literally change the way you think about the situation, opportunity, event, or challenge. Once you get good at reframing the people around you who are losing their heads and only see that there is a problem will think you don’t understand what’s going on and that’s a good thing.

To help you to calculate what workplace stress is costing your business, I have developed an online Stress Cost Calculator which you an use for free, the only figures you will need to hand are:

  • The % of your costs attributable to labour.

  • Number of days a month taken off as sick leave.

  • Average day rate for your employees.

For more information on:

“The Wellbeing at Work Formula” – Stress Management & Resilience Training and Stress Management Coaching Programmes


Author of “Business Coaching & Mentoring for Dummies” - Amazon

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