Everyone experiences stress in one way or another – it’s unavoidable. But there are science-backed strategies to offset how stress impacts performance, mental health, organizational resilience and even physical health. In fact, University of California, San Francisco Vice-Chair for Adult Psychology Elissa Epel, Ph.D. shows that there are positive ways we can experience stress that enhance our performance and health.
Epel studies how self-care practices such as meditation and positive stress can promote psychological and physiological thriving through methods for improving well-being which help people see immediate results. She has served as a consultant to the National Institute of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Facebook, Apple, UnitedHealth Group, business and academic leadership groups, and numerous hospital initiatives on stress and health. Her work provides insights and practices that help individuals improve their mental and physical health and enables leaders to strengthen organizational wellness.
Epel’s 30 years of research into the mechanisms of how biology and the mind interconnect and interact with the social world has led to foundational knowledge about how stress affects behavior and health, including eating, metabolism, and how our cells age.
A great synthesizer of knowledge, she has summarized the most effective practical strategies for counteracting the harmful impacts of daily stress in her new book, “The Stress Prescription: Seven Days to More Joy and Ease” (Penguin Life, December 2022). This highly acclaimed book provides a simple, actionable framework for learning how to “stress better” by developing positive stress in the body.
Readers also learn how to change our relationship with daily stress so that we feel rejuvenated rather than exhausted at the end of a workday. “The Stress Prescription” has been named an Indy Healthy Living Bestseller, as well as an AARP bestseller and is already being translated into over 15 languages.
“Through a deep, science-based understanding of the mechanisms of stress, we can better understand the why of things, and that is powerful,” explains Epel, co-author of the New York Times bestseller, “The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer” (Grand Central Publishing, 2017).“These insights enable people to make the shift toward a flexible, beneficial stress response.”
Build Institutional Resilience to Stave Off Burnout
During times of high work stress, it’s vital for organizations to foster group cohesion and belonging to build robustly resilient teams. Instead of taking a business school organizational leadership view, Epel’s lens is focused on the psychology of social connection, trust, and compassion in the workplace. By building an atmosphere where colleagues feel heard and socially safe, there is more honest and fruitful communication, and leaders can more effectively create a culture of wellbeing and reduce burnout.
Epel explains that work should foster well-being, not drain it. “The work for group wellness requires inner work, strong relationships, and a healthy culture that all members contribute to,” she says. “Managers influence the culture through their values and role modeling. They must foster their own inner wellness and vitality.”
Epel further points out that relationships at work are one of the most powerful levers for reducing excess stress. “Through compassionate leadership, managers at all levels can better listen and help people align with deeper purpose and meaning in what they do,” she explains.
Connecting Mind and Body to Fulfill Purpose
A truly unique presenter, Epel brings compassionate, memorable and actionable guidance to all of her engagements, including science-based meditation retreats and workshops. Epel’s goal is for attendees to walk away with a deeper understanding of their own mind, how to use the mind-body connection to stay resilient and energized in the face of challenges, and how to develop the habit of releasing mental stress to restore during downtime.
“By sharing critical research insights, I want audiences to feel empowered, to see they have more control than they think over their wellbeing, and to walk away with specific strategies they can use immediately,” explains Epel. “I want people to leave with more clarity and passion to fulfill their purpose.”
Institutional resilience starts with employee well-being. Stern Strategy Group connects you with renowned thought leaders whose insights, strategies and management frameworks help organizations fuel growth and disruptive innovation to better compete in a constantly changing world. Let us arrange for these esteemed experts to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting sessions, workshops and keynotes.