Work Stress, Anxiety, And Burnout Are Optional

Work stress, anxiety, and burnout are optional and if your company is still acting as if this is your employee’s only option, your results are suffering.

Stress is not the result of our actual circumstances. Stress is the result of our perceived circumstances. When we feel stressed, we are stressed. What does that mean?

  • It means that our emotional state is indicating we feel stress.
  • It means our immune function has declined.
  • It means our digestive function has declined.
  • It means our cognitive function has declined.
  • It means our central nervous system has declined.
  • It means the biochemistry in our bodies has become more toxic to our health.
  • It means that our relationships may be negatively impacted by our stressed responses because when we’re stressed we do not respond as kindly to words and actions as we do when we aren’t stressed.

Any employer can provide training for their employees that empower employees to be more conscious and wise about the perspectives they choose.

Stress is real. But stress is experienced because of our perception of our circumstances. We can’t control how we respond when we feel stressed but we have a tremendous ability to perceive any situation in myriad ways—some of which are highly stressful and others that are not stressful. That choice is ours to make—but we can only make it if we have skills that give us the ability to choose our perspective in order to optimize our experiences. Any employer can provide training for their employees that empower employees to be more conscious and wise about the perspectives they choose. Employees who learn these skills experience less stress, anxiety, and burnout.

What is the cost of a stressed employee? Employee’s cognitive abilities are immediately diminished when the employee becomes stressed. Did you hire your employee to use the full range of his or her skills and knowledge? What types of suboptimal decisions could be made that would diminish the ROI of your business when an employee is stressed? Customer service experiences with stressed employees are not perceived as well by your customers as experiences with happier employees. What is the price your business pays for lower perceptions of customer service? Loss of repeat business? Loss of business? Reputation damage?

What does it cost to hire and train an employee in your business? Stressed employees mean higher turnover. What is the cost of a vacant position? What is the cost to hire a new employee? Stress has negative impacts on employee physical and mental health. What is the personal cost the employee pays for that stress? What is the business cost? What is the societal cost? The difference between an employee who has stress management skills and one who doesn’t is like night and day.

You may be thinking that stress management means things like exercising, getting adequate sleep, a gratitude journal, helping other people, and being in nature. While all of those can reduce stress that’s not what I’m talking about. Why? Because those are dose-dependent stress management techniques. They do not change the amount of stress an employee experiences, just the duration of the stress. They also don’t change the way an employee perceives the situation. Dose-dependent means the process has to be repeated as needed, just like taking aspirin for a headache. You can’t take one aspirin and never again have to take one.

Skills based stress management actually changes the employee’s automatic response to stressful situations to the initial perception of the situation is less stressful than it was before the skills were developed.

What does that mean? Think about the last time a major change was announced at work. Employees who are often frustrated found something about the announcement frustrating. Employees who are often angry found something about the announcement to be angry about. Employees who are usually happy found something about the announcement to feel optimistic about. Employees who usually feel insecure found something about the announcement that made them feel insecure. Those habits (frustration, anger, happy, and insecure) are not because of some innate personality traits the employee was born with. They are because of habits of thought the employee developed. Habits of thought, like any habit, can be changed. When someone whose habits of thought lead to uncomfortable feelings like frustration, anger, and insecurity, they experience stress. When they learn to develop new habits of thought their stress level and their emotional state feels better.

We all know people who seem unfazed by circumstances as bad as or worse than ours. We don’t know how they do it—but we acknowledge that they just seem to take things in stride. When you learn skills-based stress management that changes your habits of thought you realize they just had supportive habits of thought.

Lower stress means greater resilience. It also means less stress, anxiety, and burnout. My latest book, Harness the Power of Resilience: Be Ready for Life will help people who aren’t able to attend one of my training classes experience less stress, anxiety, and burnout.


Jeanine Joy, Ph.D.
Jeanine Joy, Ph.D.
WORLD CHANGER, International Speaker, and Trainer – Dr. Joy stepped up to do everything she could to help humanity thrive more after she discovered that she could help to improve societal problems by empowering people to manage their mindset, develop psychological flexibility, and use their innate emotional guidance. She began studying the genesis of human thriving in 1995 and as her knowledge grew she became a thought leader and educator. The evidence-based techniques she teaches and writes about create improvements in physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral health. Her approach has a direct, positive effect on crime, violence, relationships, racism, educational outcomes, suicide prevention, employee engagement, happiness, career success, and more. She focuses on solutions that are both affordable and scalable because she wants to help everyone have a greater opportunity to achieve their dreams and goals. As the owner of Happiness 1st Institute, a Thrive More Now Company, Jeanine speaks internationally and provides training to organizations through her empowering, practical, and usable techniques that target the root causes of human thriving. She is recognized as a bridge builder who creates bridges by translating jargon-laden research into usable information with practical examples that help individuals fulfill more of their potential.

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  1. Awesome article, preaching to the choir. Now if we could develop a way to anticipate stress levels we can keep the stresses low. The problem I see is that people under the same level of high stress react differently. Some succeed while others fail miserably. Our personality and how we internalize stress may be a factor.

  2. Jeanine: All true. In reality stress is a real silent killer. Many doctors will tell you that constant stress that isn’t managed weakens you so much that you are more susceptible to everything from the flu to cancer.

    Perception is 90% of reality for an employee. As you note if he/she perceives that something will threaten them then it does threaten them.

    I am one of those odd ducks that actually thrives on stress. It is invigorating and calls one to action. Therefore, I find it harder than most to deal with those that can’t manage even minor stress levels.

    • Thank you for joining the discussion, Ken Vincent. It sounds like you’re saying that you focus on solutions which energizes you and makes you thrive under conditions many people find stressful. But you find it stressful to interact with those who are stressed out by problems.
      Is it because with most problems you turn immediately to solutions but when someone doesn’t have skills to deal with stress it isn’t something you can change in them (they have to be ready and you have to know how to teach something that sounds as if it is innate within you)? Since you can’t “solve” the problem, you find it stressful. The reason they are stressed by “minor stress” is they don’t perceive themselves as being able to solve the problem. There could be a variety of reasons for that including, but not limited to an external locus of control, fixed mindset, pessimistic or awfulizing habits of thoughts, low self-esteem, low self-efficacy, already overwhelmed by other stressors, low levels of resources (as often seen in poverty situations), etc. I’m sure there are more reasons, those are just the off the cuff ones.