Ep 153 – How to Handle Workplace Stress

how to handle workplace stress

According to the Attitudes in the American Workplace study by Harris Interactive, 80% of workers say they encounter stress on the job with nearly half of respondents saying they need help managing stress.

Episode 153: How to Handle Workplace Stress with Dr. Cynthia Ackrill (@cackrill)

Today, I’m joined by Dr. Cynthia Ackrill. She is a leader in the field of stress management and an expert in the critical relationships between lifestyle choices, performance capacities, and leadership effectiveness.

Dr. Ackrill has a very interesting background. She is a medical doctor who began experiencing burnout and increased stress as a result of her work. Driven by her own experiences, she set out to learn more about how stress impacts individuals personally and professionally. I first came across her work when looking for resources for myself and was impressed by her background, expertise, and approach to how individuals, as well as employers, can help their employees learn how to recognize and manage stress.

Recent research that Dr. Ackrill mentions shines a spotlight on how workplace stress negatively impacts a business’ bottom line. Experts are finding that five to six hundred billion dollars of revenue are lost each year due to stress. Dr. Ackrill’s work, training and consulting practice are helping businesses move the needle when it comes to providing employees with training, tools and resources to help eliminate and/or manage stress.

For years, everybody wore their stress as a merit badge. And I think we're finally realizing it isn't proof of your worth to be stressed. - @cackrill #workology #workplace #podcast Click To Tweet

Another area of Dr. Ackrill’s research has been in the area of neuroscience and how the body and brain react and handle stress. She says that when an individual encounters a stressful environment, his or her brain goes into safety mode making it harder for the person experiencing the stress to understand and acknowledge how their body and brain are reacting. I have absolutely experienced this. When I moved to Austin a little over a year ago and started a new business with my coworking and shared office space, Duo Works, I didn’t know I was exhibiting OCD behaviors which, for me, manifest as an uncontrollable need to organize and decorate my environment.

Stress Is No Longer Celebrated and Embraced as a Right of Passage at Work

Dr. Ackrill talks about how with the increased visibility and conversations around the impact that stress has on an employees’ health, productivity, and happiness have created an awareness and, slowly, a movement promoting the idea that being stressed is not a workplace merit badge. She says that people are finally starting to make the connection that the symptoms of stress really interfere with your health. They interfere with your best work, especially your ability to lead, and the bottom line.

I think there are a lot of misconceptions about stress. Commonly companies think that, since someone may be experiencing stress in their personal life, the employer shouldn’t be accountable for providing resources to their employees. Learning how to handle and manage stress is a life-long benefit that employers can provide their employees. Something like this isn’t just a work resource, but a personal resource that an individual can use throughout his or her life.

Connect with Dr. Cynthia Ackrill.


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*A special thank you to my production team at Total Picture Radio.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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