I was invited to deliver a full day of the one-hour workshops on well-being and stress management at a chemical company, based in Wrexham.

Developing resilience and combating stress in one hour, how does it sound?  The solution is to become aware of what options are available and what direction you would like to choose.

It was an interesting experience – I would say a marathon.  Nine workshops for the hundreds of employees, who work different shifts, which adds pressure in a demanding working environment.

The workshops were designed from a coaching point of view to give the delegates the tools to develop their personal resilience in stressful situations at work and in their personal lives. There is no definite recipe for each case, but there are many solutions if you want to eliminate the stress. After all, stress is not an emotion, but a bodily response to the real or imagined dangers.

Developing resilience and being aware of your own mindset can provide everybody with a number of ways to be stronger.

I started each workshop with a simple exercise by showing how body posture can send a signal to your mind – “hey there, be happy!”, so everybody was able to control their daily mood. There was lots of laughter when delegates discovered how it was working and how easy it was to implement those tools.

Obviously, when we talk about daily stresses or challenging situations we face in our lives, all the worries, and thoughts, just a theory about stress would hardly work. So to demonstrate one of the thinking errors we often make, I asked the group of professionals to imagine a Pink Elephant in the middle of the room. Some were a bit surprised but nevertheless, all 20 delegates took it seriously and here it was – a Pink Elephant. When I asked them to describe that elephant,  the replies were: “he looks like a Dumbo”, “he has really big ears”, he fits exactly in the space in the middle of the room”. It was quite a vivid creation! To add to the vision I asked if the delegates could add a blue, glittery hat on the top of the elephant’s head. And there it was an impressive image, created in the mind of each delegate in the training room. There were positive nods from everybody that the Pink Elephant with the blue hat was there.

This is the way we create our worries and keep them to trouble us – exactly as we created a Pink Elephant out of a thin air (the elephant was still in the room). Then we covered the methods what we could do in order to stop those worries to stress us. Instead of creating a Pink Elephant, we can be realistic and consider the following: the best-case scenario and the worst-case scenario, and consequently take all required actions to move forward.

In such a way the delegates observed how easily we could make thinking errors which were totally unhelpful and in the long run – damaging.

From the feedback of the delegates, I know they were interested in all Six Thinking Errors to reduce stress. In the time allocated for the workshop, we could cover only a few thinking errors, though not the same with different groups. Here is the list of all six of them:

Six Thinking Errors

All or nothing – Thinking is black or white, with nothing in between.

Example: “I have got to get it 100% perfect. I always make this mistake. I’ll never get the hang of it.”

Labelling – This is when we attach negative labels to ourselves.

Example: “I am useless. I am a failure. I am not the sort of person who can cope with all of this. And I am so unlucky”.

I should/ I must/ I can’t – This is when we set unrealistic standards for ourselves.

Example: “I should be able to cope with all this work. I must do better this time. And I can’t handle this. “

Magnification – This involves blowing things out of proportion.

Example: “I failed my promotion interview – my career is in ruins. I have missed the train – this is terrible. We didn’t win contract – it is the end of the world”.

Predicting – Here we predict negative future outcomes.

Example: “I am going to really embarrass myself in this meeting. If I make a mistake everyone will laugh at me. I bet everyone is thinking that I am an idiot.”

Discounting – Here we minimise the positive factors in favour of negative aspects.

Example: “He is only saying my work is good because he feels sorry for me. I was really lucky to make that sale. I can’t believe I passed the exam – the questions must have been easy”.

The beauty of being aware of those errors in one’s thinking is that they can be adjusted with the positive outcomes and that was the practical part of the workshop.

Interestingly that many delegates found the breathing technique very useful. It is impossible to underestimate the power of those methods.

 

Nine workshops in a day was definitely a new experience for me. By the end of the day, I was mentally exhilarated but physically exhausted.

The workshops were delivered through Beehive Healthcare and big thank you to Sharon Shelbourne for the invaluable support throughout the day, without her that would be impossible.

 

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