Don’t Let Work Kill You

Have you ever jokingly said “Work is killing me”. But the problem is that it’s no joke. Work stress doesn’t just cause psychological problems like depression, anxiety and irritability. Work stress causes physical problems like heart palpitations, fatigue, indigestion, insomnia and more. Before those palpitations make your heart jump out of your chest find out how your mindset can help you to manage workplace stress and improve your health and wellbeing. Who is this for? Any manager who’s been stressed because of employee performance.

Related Resources:

Managing your mindset is a good manager manager skill. Other important boss skills include:

Mindset and Wellbeing

This article is the second part in the series on Mindset: Increasing Positivity in the Workplace. Our mindset starts to manifest from a very early age. It’s shaped by the values and beliefs that our parents instill in us. As it grows stronger it becomes our life philosophy. Mindset is responsible for our relationship with success and failure both professionally and personally, and ultimately our capacity to be happy. And while we think we control all of our actions, our mindset is how we translate our environment. So even our conscious actions are affected by our unconscious mindset.

A Negative Mindset is Bad for Your Wellbeing

The thing is that a negative mindset is bad for your mental and physical wellbeing. The medical establishment has been proving that the mind can heal the body for decades. We all know that “the placebo effect.” has the power not just to make us feel better but actually to get physically better. Medical research shows that the placebo effect can result in an improval of between 18 to 80% of the time.

But the placebo effect has a flip side. The same mind-body power that can heal you can also harm you. 25% of patients in double-blind clinical trials experience the side effects even when they are only given sugar pills.

Health and Wellbeing is a Foundation of a Great Place to Work

Health and wellbeing have always been close to my heart. But it’s not about me because great bosses know that health and wellbeing are an essential part of great places to work. Firstly, great bosses truly care about their employees. But secondly great bosses know that both them and their employees are more productive when they are mentally and physically healthy. This is why Wellbeing is one of the Manager Foundation cornerstones. Because I believe so strongly in wellbeing I’ve created a free stress management guide for to download that you can get at

The Physiological Effects of Habitual Negative Thinking

When you operate with a critical mindset and when you worry about what may go wrong, you are operating in a low level state of fear. It’s not quite the same level of stress as when your boss calls you into the office for a serious talking to. But it is a constant level of stress.

Biologically what’s happening is you are producing stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. This pushes your blood pressure up, raises your blood sugar and suppresses your immune system! Digestion stops. Your heart is under strain. You’re tense. You know those knots in your shoulders; this is where they come from. When you’re tense you’re not breathing properly. And if you’re in a worry state then you’re not going to be operating from a place of confidence either. IMO this is why analytical people are not good at projecting confidence.

Bosses are at a Greater Risk

Bosses are at greater risk because bosses have more responsibilities. Being a boss is stressful. On an average day when things go well or if you are resilient it may not affect you at all. But these effects build up over time. And on a bad day, what is usually a minor inconvenience can turn into an insurmountable obstacle. Feeling helpless is a major cause of depression. The Management Death Spiral is where anxiety creates self-fulfilling prophecies which in turn reinforce the anxieties. As I explain in the section on the Management Death Spiral you end up in a dysfunctional management hole. This hole is bad for employee performance but it’s also going to put pressure on your mental wellbeing and your confidence.

Negative Mindset Leads to Dysfunctional Reactive Management

When we are in a negative mindset with our fight or flight nervous system activated what is happening is that we are in a reactive, emotional state. Essentially we aren’t performing like an evolved thinking human being, we are reacting like simple animals. And this means we make bad decisions and get into dysfunctional management. The only way to become proactive is to manage our response.

Just Breathe

The first thing to do when we recognise that we are stressed is to just breathe. Big deep breaths with long, slow, relaxing exhales. The sort of exhales where you let go. Let go of your tension, your tight shoulders. When we are stressed our bodies tense up and we breathe shallowly and intermittently. We can’t control our sympathetic nervous system like the elevated adrenalin, the stress hormone cortisol or our heart rate. But breathing is an amazing body function because it’s both sympathetic meaning automatic, but also parasympathetic meaning under our conscious control. This links the two nervous systems together and so by controlling our breathing we can

influence the sympathetic nervous system. A few good breaths can remove you from a reactive, emotional state into a state that you can start to manage your mindset. The more you practice this through methods like yoga the better you will get at managing stress. You will be able to put yourself into a calm zen like state ready to deal with anything. It’s a deceptively simple way to stop falling into the same hole over and over again. Because this isn’t just about avoiding stress for your own health, it’s about managing stress so you can be a better boss.

Your Mindset Affects How You Manage and How You Manage Affects Your Mindset

Your mindset affects how you manage and how you manage affects your mindset. This is why it pays to manage your mindset. We know that some people thrive under stress. While others end up on sick leave and worse at the first sign of stress. The difference is mindset because your mindset allows you to deal with adversity. Ways that a healthy mindset deals with stress include:

  1. Seeing difficulties as challenges to be overcome

  2. Seeing learning opportunities in mistakes

  3. Keeping problems in context

  4. Realising that adversity is temporary and,

  5. Accepting responsibility

I know most people don’t understand the part about accepting responsibility because it’s taken me a while to figure it out myself. But this is an important step to taking control over your environment. To find out more about how this works see the section on Management Zen and Accepting Responsibility as an unconventional but powerful way to manage.

Negative Ways of Managing Stress

Where people get stress management wrong is trying to make stress go away. But you can’t make stress go away, it’s a simple fact of work. Things go wrong, deadlines create pressure. Employees have different points of view that will inevitably result in some form of conflict. This means you can’t avoid stress at work. But Stress in itself is not a bad thing. In fact stress is a motivational force. Manage stress badly and you get  distress. Manage stress well and you get growth from eustress.

You Are The Gatekeeper Of Your Mind

You wouldn’t take a pill from a bottle with a skull and crossbones on it. But every time you think negative thoughts, you’re poisoning your body with stress hormones that deactivate your body’s natural self-repair mechanisms. You are the gatekeeper of your mind, and no-one can protect what you think but yourself.

Managing Mindset. Before You Can Master Others, You Must Master Yourself.

Some of the practical things that Boss Camp does to help you manage your mindset include:

  • Improving your management skills so you feel more in control

  • Reframing performance communications into a positive message and

  • Increasing your awareness of your stress triggers so you can manage your stress

That’s why I recommend checking in on your stress levels as a daily bossercise.

There is a great quote that says before you can master others, you must master yourself. This is why the management foundations start with awareness and emotional management.


So to wrap up. We can’t avoid work stress we can only manage work stress through our mindset. This has been a negative warning message so I want to end on something positive because work isn’t all bad for our health. Just like Yin and Yang, there are two sides to everything.

And work can be incredibly beneficial to our health because with the right approach:

  • Work will give you a sense of satisfaction,

  • Work will give you a sense of belonging and

  • Work will help you to find value and meaning in your life through purpose and growth

But if you don’t manage your mindset, work will be bad for your mental and physical wellbeing. The choice is yours. The next time being a boss starts to raise your stress levels do you choose a stressful, emotive response or do you choose a better way?

Take the first step to a more positive mindset with the short, online course Managing Your Mindset

In next part of this series we’ll look at how your mindset spills over into managing people and how it affects employee motivation, growth and happiness.


Do you have any comments, questions or tips about managing your mindset, or mindset and wellbeing? Please share in the comments below.