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How serious you mean when you said “I’m feeling stressful.”?

Posted on September 2, 2016 in Articles

Stress ManagementWe know what stress means; we experienced stress when deadline is near, we handle excessive stress when the traffic is terribly jam and we feel stress when financially tense especially month end. Oxford dictionaries described stress as the result of great emotional pressure from demanding situation (Oxford university press , 2016). Stress is just part of our living, everyone is stressed isn’t it normal?

How about work stress? Japanese has this term called “Karōshi” (过劳死) it means overwork death (International Labour Organization (ILO), 2013). First case happened in 1969, one of the Japan shipping companies 29-year old young man died of overwork at his workplace. Reason being was fatal heart attack and stoke due to long working hours, overwork stress. Recent year, suicide due to overwork stress has been included in the term “Karōshi” too.

On the other hand, American Psychological Association (2009) reported sixty nine percent of employees were stressed or tensed at workplace due to heavy workload, resulting fifty one percent of job turnover or absenteeism (Schultz et al. 2015). Whilst Malaysian Psychiatric Association reported in year 2015 there were fifty percent hike from twelve percent (2011) to twenty nine percent of Malaysian having depression and anxiety (Menon, 2016). This number is worrying and should be everyone’s priority concern. By 2020, depression is predicted to be the major mental health concern for all Malaysian.

How do we know if we were overworked and burnout? Working adults averagely spent six to twelve hours at workplace some even more, which causing serious health issues such as diabetes, heart diseases, musculoskeletal pain, headaches, fatigue, insomnia, gastric, substance abuse (e.g. alcoholic or heavy smoking), lack of concentration, mood swing, low confidence and easily agitated (Schultz et al. 2015). All these lead to family problems, depression and some serious cases lead to suicidal. Do you notice anyone around you having more than three symptoms mentioned above? If yes, bring he or she out for a drink, relax, talk about everything and cheer him or her up.

About this overwork stress issue, who is supposed to take care of employees’ mental health state? Managers or superiors nowadays are expected to possess not only intelligence, competencies, determination, precision and vision to complete task but also soft skills elements for instance self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills in order to manage people (Marques , 2013). Yet, managers and supervisors are even more stressful than their subordinates; the burden of overwork stress can’t be their duty too, right? What would be the long-term stress management strategy that anyone can practice? 

Here is some motion and emotion stress management tricks. Are you ready to make a change?

First, get a mirror; put it near your workplace so you will see it anytime you want. Look into mirror and make funny face, angry face, pretend you were laughing face, just do the facial emotion exercise not making any sound. No harm trying, just do it!

Now, do the laugh therapy; you just need to say “ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ho! ho! ho! ho! ho!” repeat it for a few times. Hold the phone near you, pretend you were laughing until you laugh out loud for real and laugh away all your stress. Laughing stimulates your cognitive mind to remember happy moments in your life, so your brain naturally produce more endorphins that will help you fight or flight your stress away. But don’t laugh alone for too long, people may think otherwise.

Thirdly, change your laptop font colour to blue instead of using black. Blue is soothing colour, it helps the mind to relax as if you were looking at blue sky and blue ocean. Sometimes you can close your eyes, lay back on your chair in relax position, imagine you were at the seashore; you can almost feel the wind, the sun and taste the salty sea breeze. This is because your brain were exposed to this type of environment before, your cognitive mind capture the moment include the feeling and the taste. It reminds you the place you can relax and enjoy without stress. Careful not to fall asleep!  

Lastly, barefoot walking on little pebbles; you can put some round edges stones under your working desk, take off your shoes when you are sitting down, place your feet on top of it, step on it to stimulate acupuncture points on your feet to improve blood circulation, reduce fatigue and help you to stay focus. For ladies, sitting down too much makes the body shape naturally turn into pear shape, due to long hours sitting in the same position resulting poor blood circulation, so this little trick will reduce stubborn fats growth focus on the bottom. If you like essential oil, you may add one drop of Lavender on the stone, it helps to relax and has calming effect. 

No harm trying these little tricks! Leave your workplace or electronic devices for ten minutes and try it out today. Stress is normal yet abnormal to have too much. Reduce stress = reduce risk of Karōshi, increase healthy work life balance and efficient working style. Like this? Share it and help your loved ones reduce stress too! Sharing is caring.

International Labour Organization (ILO). (2013, April 23). Case Study: Karoshi: Death from overwork. Retrieved from International Labour Organization (ILO):

Kim, S., Suh, C., Park , M., Kim , K., Lee , C., Son, B., . . . Jung, H. (2014). Effectiveness of a comprehensive stress management program to reduce work-related stress in a medium-sized enterprise. Annals of occupational and environmental medicine, 26(4), 1-9.

Marques , J. (2013). Understanding the strength of gentleness: soft-skilled leadership on the rise. Journal of business ethics, 116, 163-171.

Menon, J. (2016, March 24). Depression on the rise as malaysians burn out from stress, expert warns. Retrieved from The malay mail online:

Oxford university press . (2016). Oxford dictionaries . Retrieved from Oxford dictionaries :

Schultz, P., Ryan , R., Niemiec , C., Legate , N., & Williams , G. (2015). Mindfulness, work climate, and psychological need satisfaction in employee well-being. Science+Business Media, 6, 971-985.

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