The way one person deals with stress can be completely different from another, and while more employers are doing more to better support employees if they’re struggling, there are steps that we, as individuals, can take to help us to better cope with stressful situations.

This week, our guest blogger is Emma McDonald, Company Director of the Psychotherapy Clinic who works with employees to help them reduce their heightened emotion in the workplace and enhance resilience.

“Stress is a widespread issue in many workplaces. Stress affects us all differently, and is dependent upon (a) the causes of workplace stress and (b) our levels of emotional resilience (our ability to cope with stressful situations). Here we explore 5 ways you can begin to enhance your emotional resilience to workplace stress.

1. Focus on the things you can change
The only thing in life that you can directly control is yourself and your decisions. Focus your valuable energy on the things you can change, and remember energy used upon things we cannot change is wasted energy. If you are unable to change the situation you are in, the best thing you can do for yourself is to change the way that you respond to it.

2. Remember who you are and what is important to you
Our values are the things that are really important to us; the things that help make our life meaningful. Values are who we want to be and what we want our lives to be about. Spend some time reconnecting with your work and life values. To identify your values, you can ask yourself; What are the things that I care about? What do I want for my life?

Once you have established your values, try to bring your daily activities in line with your values, working through any barriers with problem solving.

3. Understand the way that you think
Just because we think something, it doesn’t make it true. Our thoughts are just our thoughts. It is easy to get into poor habits of thinking; jumping to conclusions, catastrophising (“everything is going to go wrong”), thinking we can read minds, focusing on the negatives, feeling responsible for everything that happens. But these are just thinking styles, they are not reality. Learn to recognise the automatic thoughts that enter into your mind and learn to let them go, you don’t have to buy into everything you think.

4. Learn to relax
Find time to space out for a short period of time to quickly reduce anxiety. A brief time out is worthwhile when under stress, as you will return more focused and productive to the task in hand. When you are noticing signs of stress try visualising for 5 minutes a peaceful place, somewhere you have previously been in your life, like your favourite holiday for example. Whilst visualising your peaceful place notice what you can; see, hear, smell, taste and touch. Using our senses in visualisations enhances the vividness of the image, aiding relaxation. This brief escape to your peaceful place allows your mind to drift away for a short break, to reduce stress and anxiety, before returning more calmly to the present moment.

5. Forget multitasking
Multitasking was once regarded as a great way to maximise time and get more done in a working day. However, such is a disillusion, having a phone to your ear whilst writing a report actually slows the speed and lowers the quality of work undertaken. In the moment splitting focus can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety and confusion. Instead, try mindfully focusing on one task at a time, improving the speed and quality of your work.

It’s important to be aware of the way your mind and body works, as it’s crucial to helping us recognise the signs when things aren’t right (and remember, some stress is completely healthy).

While these 5 tips are examples of what some people use to better cope with workplace stress, it may be that other techniques work better for you. Whatever they are, do practice them whenever you feel the pressure, and your emotional resilience will be enhanced over time, helping you to manage it more effectively.”

By Emma McDonald
Company Director, Clinical Supervisor, BABCP Accredited CBT Therapist and EMDR Therapist

Emma Mcdonald is a Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor and the Director of The Psychotherapy Clinic. The Psychotherapy Clinic is a service which specialises in supporting adults and children struggling with depression, anxiety and trauma. For more information, please visit




To find out more about how you can provide your workforce with better access to health and wellbeing support, such as GP 24/7 and Employee Assistance Programmes, do get in touch with a member of the Paycare team today to learn more about our range of employer and employee-paid plans.