Managing Stress for Workplace Health




Stress has grown in epidemic proportions in our lives and in our workplaces in the last decade. In a recent Toronto Globe and Mail article, the headlines were "Out of the shadows: mental health at work". (March 29, 2006). The high personal, organizational and financial cost of mental health problems in the workplace are at last being more fully in the spotlight and organizations are getting on board to address stress and mental health issues at work. The report recently released by the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Mental Health states that in Canada, there are 35 million workdays lost each year to mental health conditions, that 30 to 40% of disability insurance claims are attributable to mental health issues and $35 Billion is the estimated productivity loss resulting from mental health problems.

There has been extensive research about the effect of stress on personal health, including its correlation with high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and a variety of other illness and difficulties in daily functioning. In addition, stress is a significant contributing factor in mental health problems such as anxiety, panic and depression. Individuals go on "stress leave" all too often from their workplace, which of course has a negative impact on that individual as well as the organization as a whole in terms of loss of personnel, lowered morale, and financial loss.

Workplace stress can affect employers and employees alike.

As stated by the Canadian Mental Health Association:

Fear of job redundancy, layoffs due to an uncertain economy, increased demands for overtime due to staff cutbacks act as negative stressors. Employees who start to feel the "pressure to perform" can get caught in a downward spiral of increasing effort to meet rising expectations with no increase in job satisfaction. The relentless requirement to work at optimum performance takes its toll in job dissatisfaction, employee turnover, reduced efficiency, illness and even death. Absenteeism, illness, alcoholism, "petty internal politics", bad or snap decisions, indifference and apathy, lack of motivation or creativity are all by-products of an over stressed workplace.

This seminar will be of great benefit to organizations of all kinds in improving well-being, diminishing stress in the workplace, and helping employees to improve their mental health. In today's knowledge based workforce, having a healthy mind is the basis of continued positive work performance and personal well-being.


At the end of this workshop, participants will:
  • Understand the impact of stress on personal and organizational well-being
  • Identify their stress profile through completion of a Stress Map
  • Identify the stress style of their work team or group
  • Develop a personal and group stress management plan
  • Learn specific stress management techniques based on cognitive psychology, stress free attitudes, the relaxation response, the Body Scan and mindfulness meditation
  • Develop organizational responses to stress and wellness initiatives


1-2 days


Executives, managers, teams, and employees. This seminar will be of great benefit to those who manage and supervise large and small teams as well as to employees for their own benefit.


We will present information using the most current and proven principles of adult education. Material will be presented in several ways:

  1. Information to help individuals understand stress, its sources and effects. Each individual will have a better understanding of their stress signature and coping style
  2. Experiential learning that introduces stress management techniques and the enhancement of wellness
  3. Practical tools and strategies that individuals and organizations can continue to use beyond the training program to diminish stress and enhance wellness
  4. Sharing of Best Practices in Stress Management & Workplace Wellness

Training will be highly participatory with opportunities for self-reflection, dialogue and the development of practical plans for implementation and follow up. The facilitator will be available for ongoing consultation.


Part 1: Stress in the Workplace

The Background

  • Current profiles of stress in the workplace
  • What is wellness in the workplace? What does a healthy and vibrant workplace look like?
  • Causes and profiles of workplace stress: individual illness, disability leave, low morale, lack of productivity, etc.
  • Costs of workplace stress to the organization to individuals on the level of social, emotional and physical costs

Stress, Health and Illness

  • Varieties of Stress: Good stress, bad stress, and the stress response
  • Stress and our Physical and Mental Health: The Mind-Body connection
  • Stress and its relationship to mental health
  • Stress and work performance

Your and Your Stress Response

  • Assessing your personal stress signature and coping style
  • Identifying the stress style of your group or team
  • Assessment using the "Stress Map" and results of assessment

Learning Stress Management Techniques

  • Learning the Relaxation Response
  • Understanding how our mental attitudes create stress
  • Shifting stress creating attitudes to 5 stress reduction attitudes
  • Planning your work day to diminish stress: making it possible

Part 2: mindfulness and Stress Reduction

Mindfulness in the Workplace has the power to create a transformation in the culture of your work environment. Research results have found that individuals and groups who are practicing mindfulness in the workplace are more effective in managing stress, have more focused concentration, are better listeners, and are more creative thinkers.

Mindfulness has been described as an intentional focused awareness - a way of paying non-judgmental attention on purpose, and in the present moment. Jon Kabbat Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living., Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program, Boston Medical Centre, University of Massachusetts

In this module, you will learn:

  • Introduction to mindfulness
  • Research results on mindfulness in the workplace
  • Teaching mindfulness practices (sitting, walking, breathing, Body Scan, attitudes of mindfulness, applications of mindfulness to daily life)
  • Teaching the application of mindfulness to stress management, conflict resolution, dealing with difficult employees and other specific workplace issues
  • Developing an ongoing mindfulness practice on an individual and group level
  • How to include mindfulness breaks in your workday
  • Take home practices in mindfulness

Developing Your Stress Management Strategy

  • Follow up with recommendations from Stress Map Assessment
  • Identifying the practices that you want to incorporate
  • Identifying shifts in mental attitudes to develop stress reduction
  • Create a stress management contract that includes mental, physical and emotional components with specific time lines

Creating Healthy Workplaces

  • Identify new workplace practices as managers, teams or employees
  • Develop a strategy to implement these new practices
  • Develop a way to monitor and follow up on the healthy workplace strategy