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Trevor E. S. Smith | Distress or de-stress: It’s your choice

Published:Sunday | June 23, 2019 | 12:00 AMTrevor E. S. Smith - Contributor

According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide. More than 75 per cent of all physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.

So, as you can see, stress is no joke! Yet, strangely, having fun might just be our answer to negative and chronic stress!


I had a fun experience at an Insurance Association of Jamaica conference recently. I shared with underwriters that fun and productivity are not mutually exclusive.

In fact, there is evidence that seeking avenues for stress release on the job actually improves performance!

The workplace can be challenging and exasperating.

Frustrating experiences are inevitable. How you deal with the accumulation of those incidents has major implications for your well-being.

The good news is that you can de-stress instead of being overcome with distress.

Here are some simple things that you can do to release stress and improve your performance and well-being.


Stress is a mind game. How we file or internalise events determines our stress management profile.

Are there times when something gets under your skin and at another time you ignore the same thing?

Are you able to look past things that bother others?

Does it take a long time for you to get over things?

Think about this:

A baby slaps your face. Your response is … ?

Your neighbour does the same and you … ?

We choose how we treat what happens around us and to us. We choose whether we will be pleased, upset, stressed or at peace.

If we can choose how to respond, why choose options that impact us negatively?

But there is another powerful way in which we can use our minds.

We can pull up satisfying experiences at will. Yes, day dreaming is a proven antidote to negative stress.

Is the boss chewing you out? Why not listen while mentally basking on an imaginary beach?

Is a colleague jerking your chain? What if you cast them in the image of Popeye or Andy Capp?

Remember, mind games are keys to your quest for peace of mind. Let your imagination run wild as you create innovative ways to de-stress instead of suffering in a state of distress.


You have heard that laughter is the best medicine and it is indeed a great way to release stress and secure your well-being.

You don’t need a joke to laugh. Try it. Just start laughing and see if it does not take on a life of its own.

Let them wonder what’s so funny.


Negative stress is influenced by group dynamics.

There is no limit to the possibilities for releasing stress if teams understood the value of injecting fun in the workplace. Fun influences employee engagement, productivity, individual well-being and the capacity to sustain high levels of performance.

One option is to use brainstorming with a different twist, by tackling non-work issues or special projects.

It is important to have the team walk around using Post-it notes during the brainstorming sessions.


The rationale is that it forces a change of physical state. ‘Change your state, change your thoughts’ is a mantra that makes a huge difference in the management of stress.

Getting up and taking a brief stroll has been known to magically shed light on a challenging issue and to release tension.

Simple ‘desk-ercises’ can also change your mood and renew your energy. Even rotating head and shoulders works. Google ‘jaw and stress’ and have your mind blown away. Our jaws are the ultimate storehouse of tension!


With employee engagement hovering at 30 per cent and work-life balance shifting heavily towards life, new initiatives are required to address the needs of the emerging workforce.

One option is to get engaged in projects that bring out the passion of group members.


Our time, task and stress management online programme is guaranteed to recover at least one hour per day for more effective use and to get you in the habit of de-stressing rather than being in distress.

Contact me now for improved performance and increased peace of mind:

- Trevor E. S. Smith/Success with People Academy, interpersonal relations and performance-enhancement specialists. Providing human-capacity development and technology-driven solutions. Email: