Breaking the Stress Cycle

Published: 2020

How can organisations and individuals reframe stress using Proactive Resilience? Imagine this: you are sitting at your desk, facing tight deadlines with the telephone ringing every second minute; every time you start to concentrate, you are interrupted by an email notification from Outlook. Colleagues around you are chatting. You start getting headaches and your heartbeat increases. You feel irritated and tired. Over time, you realise you cannot really concentrate anymore, and you start to forget things. Your colleagues also notice that you respond to questions more aggressively than you usually would. You can’t manage work like you normally do. Does that sound familiar?

What we experience at these moments is simple: stress. The feelings of pressure, anxiety or panic we have at our desk in the office are basically the same as our ancestors in the Stone Age would have during an encounter with a bear or a tiger. This goes back to something we now call the “fight, flight, freeze” response. Basically, if a caveman spotted danger, his body had to react quickly in order to survive. Blood transferred from his brain, his stomach and his intestines to his muscles. Adrenalin was released, and his heart began to pump more and more oxygen through his body. This enabled him to either fight the predator, flee from it or hide by freezing. What we term stress in the workplace today is essentially our body going into survival mode as our brain can’t distinguish between a tiger and a deadline.

So that organisations can help employees to practice resilience, DuPont Sustainable Solutions has developed the Proactive Resilience model. The model can be applied at different levels: to the entire organisation, to leaders and to individuals. It is intended to support organisations who want to further their employees’ wellbeing and enable them to work effectively at minimal stress levels. Without such support, organisations can expect to see a high rate of staff turnover with the corresponding negative effect on consistency, quality and overall performance. Studies have shown that stress at work is associated with increased turnover intentions while further research indicates that resilience is associated with greater job satisfaction and lower stress levels, a factor that leads to lower turnover intentions1.

1) Ghandi, Parastoo; Hejazi, Elahe; Ghandi, Nahid (2017): A Study on the Relationship between Resilience and Turnover Intention: With an Emphasis on the Mediating Roles of Job Satisfaction and Job Stress. Mosadeghrad, Ali Mohammad (2013): Occupational stress and turnover intention: implications for nursing management. In: International journal of health policy and management 1 (2), p. 169–17