Being proactive about mental wellbeing in the workplace

In this blog, Colette Norbury explains our recent project about stress, her Framework for Managing Wellbeing in the Workplace and gives details of a free online workshop at 6pm on 18th May – Mental Health Awareness Week.

Stress: What’s all the fuss about?

A while back Paul Essery described to me what he saw as a rise in the number of people who were negatively impacted by stress. Those that he was concerned about were in the business of selling – including members of sales teams, entrepreneurs, or company directors.

We had some focused confidential conversations with this cohort, to learn more and to try to help. They described a variety of ‘issues’ – or stressors – and I collated these. More on that later.

And the experiences and issues illustrated here do not relate solely to those who work in ‘sales’!


For some of the cohort, healthy stress had morphed into unhealthy stress. Healthy stress is a degree of pressure that, in turn, activates our brain’s response – motivating us to achieve tasks, or to navigate a challenging phase.

Stress stimulates us to achieve something, so that we become almost super-charged with heightened emotions and motivation. This can be a happy, exciting phase! Perhaps we work extra hours, being super-productive, the mind whirring with ideas.

Stress capacity = business sense

The ‘super-charging’ cannot be healthily sustained for long periods. There are no absolutes when it comes to a ‘healthy’ limit. No two people are the same in terms of what they can endure.

If someone doesn’t seem to understand your stressor, or your difficulty in dealing with it, and is asking, ‘what’s all the fuss about?’, it can suggest that they have a different capacity for stress. It does not signify that you are a ‘failure’ or ‘weak’.

In fact, awareness of your ‘stress capacity’ and knowing how to manage it demonstrates high emotional intelligence – and it can help to prevent illness. Hence, it makes you more effective in your business!

Imagine if this type of awareness and capacity consideration was built into the foundation of your business, or into the design of job roles? It creates safer and more appealing workplaces.

But if your stress capacity is overflowing you could be…

…Entering the unhealthy zone

The transition can be blurred, but there will be signs that the super-charge is building into overload.

What if, despite the extra hours, our productivity or achievement declines? What if we start to withdraw from social events or to ‘crash out’ due to increasing exhaustion? What if our usual stress-busting tools (such as exercise) are not working anymore?

Why do signs matter?

Warning signs signify a change in health. For example, when we experience long bouts of stress, the resulting symptoms of anxiety can become debilitating and remain long after a stressor has gone.


And when the tank is empty – drained of care and motivation – the arid, numb expanse of burnout is a hard place to be. I’d like to prevent it from reaching that point.

Analysis of our conversations – and the framework 

So, back to our task!

For Paul and I, our conversations with this cohort revealed the following categories, summarised here:

  1.   Common challenges – or stressors.
  2.   What these stressors relate to.
  3.   Warning signs that healthy stress was developing into unhealthy stress and illness.

And what was missing for some was:

  1.   Effective reactive and proactive tools

I drafted a framework* to illustrate these categories.

You can’t breathe your way out of destructive work practices

Experience has taught me that it is not always enough to know how to manage symptoms of stress in our body. Whilst I’m a keen advocate of powerful tools such as breathing techniques, exercise, and mindfulness – at times these need to be combined with an ability to deal with the source(s) of stress, such as work overload, ineffective communication, or the intricacies of developing a business. We can learn these skills too.


Don’t wait for the crisis!

The key is to integrate them into your business model or everyday practice, rather than turn to them as an after-thought or a crisis intervention. It makes business and human sense.

The proactive approach is the dynamic at the core of my work, partly because of my personal experience of depression and burnout. I learnt about wellbeing and mindset from the ‘bottom up’ – not an ideal path!

Find out more and join our free online workshop on Thursday 18th May 18:00–19:00 – during Mental Health Awareness Week

We are offering a free, interactive, online workshop in which to share the *full Framework and pose some key questions, to help you to consider how to adapt it for your setting and how you could weave wellbeing into your business model or everyday practice.

We will also share some tips and tools for managing and preventing stress.

Book your place on the Workshop here:


We look forward to seeing you!


Colette Norbury is an experienced coach, facilitator, and trainer, specialising in mindsets and mental health. Contact: or Linked In

Paul Essery is a serial entrepreneur and director of My Sales Guru. Contact:

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