Dances with Work Stress: Assessment & Management


AODN Training Program

Session One

A Bilingual (Chinese & English) Presentation for Participants in China

(9-12 am, China time or 9-12 pm ET, USA), November 28 (Saturday), 2020

Phylis Lan Lin, PhD (藍采風)

Important principles may and must be flexible—Abraham Lincoln

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity—Albert Einstein


Stress is inevitable. Stress is universal. Stress is a fact of life. Since we can’t get rid of it, we need to learn how to use it to our advantage. What we all want is the right kind of stress for the right length of time—at a level that we will be able to manage and make it a positive life experience. Managing stress equates to managing life. We need to learn how to manage stress and make stress work for us. We need to learn to convert stress into “eustress (“good stress”). We need to learn to “enjoy” stress instead of letting stress control our lives. Instead of being bombarded by stress, we need to learn to dance with the stress. Stress is simply the adaptation of our bodies and minds to life demands from within and from the outside. Stresses come in every form and every intensity and can range from the chronic to the acute. It can be triggered by an individual’s internal thought process and cognition of events or by external events and situations. Sources of stress (stressors) can be conceptualized in many different ways and our reactions to stress vary with biological/physiological, psychological, and behavioral symptoms. The major influence on how stress affects our health is not the situation per se but our reaction to the event (or the meaning the individual attaches to the event).

While stress management is commonly thought to include diet, exercise, relaxation, and sometimes problem-solving; long lasting stress management and “joy of stress” require a new mindset. This new mindset includes: an understanding of both the nature and the sources of stress (stressors). It includes an awareness of self, others, and a defining of the situations; and it is the attainment of a proper perspective in one’s philosophy of life and goal setting.

Planning ahead and changing your mindset can help you avoid some of life’s daily hassles and alter your behavior, changing the way you react to those you can’t avoid.

In 2019, according to the American Institute of Stress’s recent report, 94% of American workers reported experiencing stress at their workplace. Feeling rushed is one of the major contributors to stress at work. Not having enough time to do the job right leads to not being able to take pride in what you do. Not having support from one’s superior is another commonly found stressor in the workplace. Time management, conflict resolution/management, awareness of self, and burnout management are some of the important skills in coping with work stress. More and more organizations are concerned about employees’ well-being and health issues. Since work stress affects employees’ health status, job performance, and job satisfaction, an understanding of the nature of work stress and means to intervene and manage it have been brought to the attention of leaders in the workplace.

Participants in stress management training programs frequently request a list of simple suggestions they can follow to reduce the stress in their personal lives and at work so they will be better able to cope with it. Unfortunately, there are no simple or universally effective solutions to the stress-related problems we experience. We are all unique, and what works well for some of us may be totally ineffective for others. We simply have to find the best way to adapt, cope, and manage stress in our daily lives (family, work, environment, global or local events, etc.). Too much stress is usually the result of a mismatch between your expectations (and commitment) and your environment. We can control stress, not the other way around. Stress is not something to be avoided. Stress is associated with every kind of work, but distress is not. People who undergo great stress yet stay healthy share certain personality characteristics. They have a sense of purpose, they feel in control of their lives, and view unexpected events as challenges rather than threats. They take charge of stress and do not let themselves be overwhelmed by stress. We can choose to create it or choose to reduce it. We can change our mindset and habits. There is no one best way to avoid stress. But you can live with stress and use it to your advantage, and come to appreciate it once you learn how to manage and cope with it.

Work stress refers to the emotional response to work-related events and situations. Again,we need to know the “joy of stress” and learn to dance with it. Stress is inevitable, especially in the work place. We need to acquire stress-reducing skills that suit us best. To assess and diagnose the stressors, we have encountered and then make the right choices to become resistant to them instead of vulnerable. Stressors at the workplace are found at the individual, group (team), and the organizational level. The purpose of this training session is to assist you to acquire a full understanding of the nature of stress and find the best ways to cope with, manage, control, and intervene when you encounter different facets of stressful experiences in the workplace.

The study of work stress and related interventions is an interdisciplinary inquiry that includes psychology, social psychology, medicine, organization development, sociology, etc.

The sociology of stress emphasizes the socialculturalstructural component of an organization and its link and impact to individuals’ work experience (Aneshensel, 1992; Pearlin, 1989, 1992; Thoits, 1995). The appraisal of and response to work-related events and situations, including work stress, are rooted in an individual’s perception of work and self, and therefore the meaning of work the individual upholds.

With megatrends (advancements in technology, increasingly aging population, medical science break-throughs, rapid urbanization, and the rise of the middle class in Asia, etc.) moving at an unpredictable speed, the very nature of work is changing. There are new challenges in the workplace which are triggering both new and old workplace stressors and strains affecting many workers and organizational leaders. Studies show a negative correlation between workers’ stress level and their health status and decline in productivity and work commitment. Therefore, learning how to manage and cope with work stress is crucial for the health of the individuals and the organization.


Upon completing this 3-hour session, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the nature of stress
  • Be able to identify common stressors and recognize your stressors.
  • Be aware of symptoms of stress; be able to identify your stress signals
  • Recognize types and causes of workplace stress
  • Recognize culture and stress experience
  • Understand the basic principles of stress management
  • Learn a few proactive ways to manage work stress

Targeted Audience

This session (primarily designed for participants in China) is targeted for:

  • OD professionals
  • HR professionals
  • Training/learning and development practitioners
  • OD PhD Program students



I. Understand the Nature of Stress—Become Knowledgeable About Stress (认识压力)

  1. A stress overview: Stress and stressors (What is stress and what is a stressor?)(压力是什么?压力源是什么?)
  2. Understand common reactions to stress: Biological, psychological, and behavioral responses to stress (了解压力反应)
  3. Understand types of stress (了解压力的种类)
  4. Discover your stress signals (Understand your reaction to stress)(了解你的压力信号)
  5. Stress and the aging process (压力与老化)
  6. Culture and stress experience (文化与压力)
  7. High tech and stress experience (高科技与压力)


II. Research: Work Stress Studies Theoretical Frameworks

  1. Stress in the Social and Organizational Structure Context
  • Jacobson, D. (September 1989). Context and the sociological study of stress. Journal of Health & Social Behavior, 30(3), 257-260.
  • Pearlin, L. I. (September 1989). The sociological study of stress. Journal of Health & Social Behavior, 30(3), 241-256.
  • Pearlin, L. I., Menaghan, E. G., Lieberman, M. A., & Mullan, J. T. (1981). The stress process. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 22, 337–356.
  1. Appraisal and Coping
  • Lazarus, R. S. (1993). Why we should think of stress as a subset of emotion? In L. Goldberger & S. Breznitz (Eds.), Handbook of stress: Theoretical and empirical aspects (2nd ed., pp. 21–39). New York: The Free Press.
  • Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer Publishing Company.
  • Matthieu, M., & Ivanoff, A. (2006). Using stress, appraisal, and coping theories in clinical practice: Assessments of coping strategies after disasters. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 6, 337-348.
  1. Hardness Personality

Kobasa, S. Maddi, S. B., & Kahn, S. (1982). Hardiness and health: A prospective study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42(1), 168-177.

  1. Psychological Theory of Stress
  • Selye, H. (1956). The stress of life. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Selye, H. (March 1978). Interviewed by L. Cherry: The real benefits of eustress. Psychology Today, 60-64.
  • Caplan, R. D. (1971). Organizational stress and individual strain: A social-psychological study of risk factors in coronary heart disease among administrators, engineers, and scientists. Unpublished dissertation, An Abor, Michigan: University of Michigan.
  1. Managerial-oriented Model and Job Demand Model of Work Stress
  • Ivancevich, J. M., & Matteson. M. T. (1980). Stress and work: A managerial perspective. New York: Scott Foresman.
  • Kain, J., & Jex, S. (2010). Karasek’s (1979) job demands-control model: A summary of current issues and recommendations for future research.In P. L. Perrewé & D. C. Ganster (Eds.), Research in occupational stress and well-being: Vol. 8. New developments in theoretical and conceptual approaches to job stress (p. 237–268). Emerald Group Publishing.
  • Karasek, R. A. (1979). Job demands, job decision latitude, and mental strain: Implications for job re-design. Administrative Science Quarterly,  285–306.
  • Karasek, R. A. (1989). Control in the workplace and its health-related aspects. In: S. L. Sauter, J. J. Hurrell & C. L. Cooper (Eds.), Job control and worker health (pp. 129-159). Chichester, UK: Wiley.
  • Mulder, P. (2017). Job Demand Control Model by Robert Karasek. Retrieved [insert date] from ToolsHero:
  1. Stress and Aging
  • Kahana, E., Kahana, B., & Lee, J. E. (2014). Proactive approaches to successful aging: One clear path through the forest. Gerontology, 60(5),466-474.
  • Krause, N. (1987). Life stress, social support, and self-esteem in an elderly population. Psychology and Aging, 2(4), 349–356.
  • Rowe, J. W., & Kahn, R. L. (1997). Successful aging. Gerontologist.  37, 433–440.


III. Understanding Work Stress and Work Stress Management/Intervention (工作压力管理与调适)

  1. Analyzing Sources of Work Stress (分析工作压力来源)
  2. Understanding occupational/work burnout (职业倦怠–崩熬)
  3. Workaholic and Work Stress (工作狂与压力)
  4. Re-evaluate your interpersonal relationships at work(重估工作人际关系)
  5. Finding a Balance between Work and Family (探讨工作与家庭的平衡)
  6. Reevaluate the Meaning of Work(重新评估工作的意义)

IV. Life Style Change, Adaptation and Stress Management (生活改变的适应,调适与压力管理)

1. Define the Situation, Change the Situation and Lifestyle: Adopt New Mindset, Change

  • Attitudes or behavioral interventions (改变情境与生活模式:认知,态度与行为的调适)
  • Adopt a new mindset (改变思维)
  • Take a systematic approach to problem-solving(有条理的解决问题)
  • Establish and maintain a strong support network (建立与维持支持系统)
  • Develop a life style that will buffer against the effects of stress (建立有效率抗压的生活模式的)
  • Simplify your life (简化生活)
  • Create a stress-free home (创立一个无压力的家)
  • Decide where you are, where you want to go and chart the route to your destination, periodically assessing your progress (生活规划)
  • Learn to accept what cannot be changed (学习接受不可改变的)
  • Overcome stress with stress (以压力克服压力)
  • Dances with stress (不可绝望:舞者常乐)
  • Focus on what you can control (be proactive)(积极;专注于你能控制的)

2. Time Management时间管理 (to increase productivity and efficiency) (活得更有生产力与效率)

  • Recording, analyzing (find time wasters at work), changing (prioritize, declutter, schedule)(分析时间是如何被运作的)
  • Manage your priorities (put first thing first) and develop good organizing skills(事有本末先后)
  • Set realistic goals (SMART)(SMART法设定目标)
  • Sharpen the saw (工欲善其事,必先利其器)
  • Manage details and compartmentalization(管理详细、分层完工)
  • Use only the best fuels (用最好的燃料)
  • Learn to delegate (学习授权)
  • Learn to say “no” (学习说“不”)
  • Prepare in advance to increase productivity (预先准备)
  • Schedule your time, take charge of your life (定时间表、控制时间、控制生活)
  • Start early (“闻鸡起舞”)
  • Good filing system (文件整理术)
  • Create internal and external prime time (最好的时刻)
  • Avoid interruption (避免干扰)

3. Assertiveness and Trusting Yourself (自我肯定与培养自信心)

  • Self-awareness and come to terms with your feelings (了解自我)
  • Develop effective interpersonal skills (发展有效人际关系技巧)
  • Develop workplace skills(发展工作场所技巧)
  • Concentrate on positive spiritual development (健康的身心发展)
  • Think win-win (创双赢机会)

4. Managing the “New Normal” (适应“新常態”)

  • Adapting to the digital technology
  • Adapting to working from home
  • Adapting to organizational change; surviving in agile organization
  • Take control of your career (生涯规划)


V. Other Foundational Stress Management Approaches(其他压力管理技巧)To be continued in the subsequent sessions 下回分享

  1. Conflict Resolution (冲突管理)
  2. Communication Skills (沟通技巧)
  3. Exercise, Rest, and Relaxation (自我照护,运动,休息,松弛)
  4. Diet and Total Nutrition (全方位饮食、营养)
  5. Anger Management (愤怒管理)
  6. Anxiety Management (焦虑管理)
  7. Assertiveness Training(自我肯定训练)
  8. Dual Career Family Stress and Management(双生涯家庭压力与适应)

VI. Handout (讲义)

  • Stress Management Holistic Approach (压力适应的整合策略)
  • Stress Consequences and Reactions (压力后果的各层面)
  • Work Stress(职业/工作压力模式)
  • Work Stress Coping and Management: Holistic Approach(工作压力与适应的全方位模式)


VII. Exercise (练习)

  1. Stress Signals (压力信号的自我观察与分析)
  2. My Stressors Analysis(自我评估:压力来源分析)
  3. Work Stress Assessment(工作压力自我评估)
  4. Are You A Workaholic (你是工作狂吗?)
  5. Time Utilization(时间利用)
  6. Time Urgency/Importance Analysis(时间紧急/重要性分析)


**References for this training session will be provided upon request.