Creating Your Personal BestStress Zone in the Workplace

How to avoid JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater’s experience.

We all have read about the Jet Blue flight attendant. He experienced a “last straw” moment. We all have been there in the workplace–leaving your focused, calm, controlled existence because of a situation, something or someone. In an instant you slipped down the slippery slope leaving what I call your personal BestStress Zone. You are officially “STRESSED OUT!”


First, very few of us can afford to do what Steven Slater did. Imagine parachuting, literally, from your job and into folk hero status. Let’s do a reality check. Your finances, future career moves, your family…humm. Although we may admire his insouciant attitude, the truth is that often individuals in his situation turn their frustrations outward with potential tragic outcomes. We must be cautious in celebrating his actions. There will be copycats.

Right now, before you look for the parachute latch; take a deep breath and take stock of what your current job really means to you. Making a positive contribution to society? Creating the next best “something?” Being a part of a team? Self Actualization?. Enjoyment? Travel? Whatever the case may be, it is likely you need your job– because of the income–even if you don’t like every aspect of the job. And that’s okay. That is reality. Your employer doesn’t necessarily have to provide a nurturing culture & celebrate mutual trust and respect across all levels of the organization. It’s ideal when your personal values are aligned with the company’s, but there are no guarantees. There are no entitlements.

Second, your personal wellness is important. You and only you can create and sustain a stress healthy work environment for yourself. Stress is a process. ‘Triggers’ lead to emotional, physical, psychological and biological responses. Inevitable triggers exist in your workplace. You encounter them again and again. Here are 3 simple steps (3 P’s) to make a difference for yourself–today.

  1. Perspective: Not getting “stressed-out” is all about how you choose interpret events and situations. Your frame of reference can be grounded in the past, the present or the future. You can choose tranquility or distress. Consider this. A situation, person or issue —not ever the most insensitive  passenger, customer, boss, email, deadline is inherently stressful. It is often your pattern of thinking that is not serving you well.
  2. Prevention: Getting “stressed-out” usually doesn’t just happen because of a single event. Take inventory of everyday hassles, tensions, issues going on in your life that are potential triggers of anxiety, frustration or even anger. Issues may include; work overload, expectations of yourself, personality clashes, ongoing conflicts between your non-work life and your work life that are unresolved. Examine how you cope. Emotional Eating?  Next, determine which situations you decide are ‘mission critical’ for your life (work and non work). Next, consider which situations you can influence/control–and those you can’t.  Embrace, creatively problem solve and take decisive action on issues that are important to you(mission critical). Just do it!  For those issues you can’t control or influence- you can immunize. This is called Stress Inoculation. Neutralize the power of triggers and allow your innate natural defenses to protect your emotional integrity and sanity. Learn more in my book, Optimal Stress: Living in your BestStress Zone. John Wiley & Sons 2010.
  3. Pause: When an unavoidable situation occurs because of an angry, hostile, or just plain rude customer or coworker. Or maybe your workload doubles because of a slacker or yet another layoff. For many of my clients and workshop participants the ‘last straw’ is just feeling unappreciated or the thought of having to take the company blackberry on vacation,  Here is a radical solution. Just pause! Yep. Just take a deep breath. Pause, close your and count to 10 or turn on your internal playlist. Repeat an affirmation. Remember a profanity laced tirade in most work environments is never forgotten. Rethink your frame of reference. Re-direct instead of repressing disturbing thoughts. Reconnect with yourself. Be kind -but honest.  This may be a good time for a rest room break. My clients take a Power Pause.

Here is the bottom line, if your work environment is not chronically toxic to you emotionally and physically then life is good. You have a job. Don’t blow it!

Don’t let ‘stress’ rob your energy or joy!  Step-up and take a leadership position to create & sustain your personal Best Stress Zone for you and your teams.

Carol J. Scott, MD is the StressRelief Coach and author of Optimal Stress: Living in your Best Stress Zone (John Wiley & Sons. 2010). Visit her sites at and Or follow her on Facebook or Twitter/stressreliefdoc.