5 Ways to Handle Stress at Work and Become Resilient


Summary: When tough times happen, it’s easy to pull the covers over your head and stuff down the upset or go to the other extreme and shout it out. A powerful way to drop the doldrums and be courageous is often finding courage from others.

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

Between the heat, the unrelenting virus, and the shortages (my wife said even tampons are in short supply, who knew!) My team and my family’s over-the-top tempers are causing me to fall apart.

In other words, I can’t listen to the nay-sayers anymore.

Sadly, I have become one of them. Whereas I am a great leader when money flows and staff come up with creative ideas, I have become the worst version of Donny Downer!

Now, I am snapping at everyone.

There is more to defeating stress than pretending to be happy.

The next time a colleague tells me to check out a variation of The Happiness Project, I am afraid I will spill my anger on the floor like shards of glass. Similarly, please, don’t respond if you plan to say, “Count your blessings; others have it worse.”

Therefore, I am requesting some advice that is not benign, like “And this too shall pass.” 


Pissed and Unhappy

Dear Pissed and Unhappy,

It sounds like you think your life is coming apart at the seams. And, like many others, wonder when the bad vibes coming at you will ever stop?

Of course, we all have those times of discontent. They are there for us to become resilient and courageous.

Positive affirmations can only help for a short time.

However, no number of positive affirmations or smiling to pretend you are happy will reverse the curse. 

It takes more. I have two suggestions.  Firstly, read or watch some films where courage wins. I’ll offer one here.

For example, my husband and I watched “Warm Springs.” It’s a film from 2005 that won many awards staring Kenneth Branagh as Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Cynthia Nixon As Eleanor Roosevelt. There is excellent acting and deep learning about navigating life when there is a choice between giving up and being resilient.

It took place when there was a time of another virus took the world by storm. Polio.

Consider who is resilient in your life or from history and learn from them.

In addition, the economy was shaky, and everything was starting to fall apart.

With all the present talk of recession or the possibility of financial depression, I was curious about how President Roosevelt handled the stress from difficult times in the past. It’s the kind of story that you (and I) need to remember when we have days, weeks, or even months that seem to stay on the dark side of the scale.

To clarify, I promise not to cheerlead you to see the rainbow after the rain. Nor will I give you quote after quote to help you turn away from your despair.

Instead, I suggest you watch a few films, like “Warm Springs,” and then get a pen and paper and be ready to type on your computer. For long-term success.

Do the exercise “Write it to Right it for long-term success.

The following exercise is from my Stress Busters program.  Here is the “write it to right it” exercise. Firstly, here is how it works.

Writing about feelings of upset or even despair can make you feel better. That’s in part because writing helps you organize your thoughts. Situations begin to feel less chaotic.

Putting pen to paper or typing out your frustration also offers you an emotional release.

Here is where you find the initial way OUT. To observe, understand, and finally transform the situation.

Once you re-read, you often gain insight rather than blur it to someone else who may agree with your upset, which will constantly keep it bubbling inside you. Aha, now you start to understand.

Stick with it. You -on-you!

It can be painful to face your demons but do it anyway.

At first, it can be painful, yet, over time, you can get at the observation of the upset. This is much more powerful than shouting at fate or bad luck for the world’s injustices. 

That’s an old model deeply ingrained through past generations. It is what I call JUBLA to judge, blame, and attack those “out there.” 

Now I want to share a story that has stuck with me from the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010. 

Earthquakes, fires, and pandemics all teach us about being resilient.

It’s one I heard from another President who had his traumas to tame.

President William Clinton and his daughter Chelsea were in Haiti shortly after the devastating earthquake in 2010 that tore the island to shreds. There was death and destruction everywhere. 

A few artists were lined up along a road where there were usually vast crowds of tourists and beautiful art in happier days. Not this day.

Clinton asked his entourage to go over and buy some paintings. He had already purchased several pieces when he heard a voice call him over.

“You bought from me last time you were here, Mr. President; why not today.”

The former President went to talk with this man, who told him he lost his wife and children in the recent tragedy.

You can learn when you listen to others who have been through tragedies.

“Why are you here today” was the critical question Clinton asked the Haitian artist.

This man’s response is for all of us whenever we are down and out.

“If I am here with my art to show that I can begin again. I know it will help others as well as help me. If I can pick myself up, they can do so too.”

So, there you have it—the courage to begin again.  Sometimes you can gain strength and hope by watching others. 

Consider the basic fact that we, in some way, are all connected. Consider that viruses pass from person to person. So does courage.

When one is strong, it can make a difference for all those in the vicinity. 

As author and educator Joseph Campbell have said, we are all heroes of a thousand faces.

What is your story? Share it and know that you will give others courage and strength.

Go ahead, write it to Right it. You don’t have to show it to anyone. Just write!

Be a Pattern Pioneer. Break through old ways of thinking. Be a change agent and give others your hand. You, too, can be a model of courage to reach out and touch someone.

Here’s to your success,


P.S. Want more ways to alleviate stress and upset? Here is the link for my Masterclass for the Stress Busters Program. Or you can email me for other options at sylvia@ceoptions.com. Feel better, Do better, Be better.

Creative Energy Options

Sylvia Lafair

Creative Energy Options