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  • Tessa van nes

Navigating Corporate Stress: Unmasking Your Coping Mechanisms

In the hustle and bustle of today's corporate battlegrounds, stress is not just a challenge; it's an ever-present companion.

Recognize yourself in this narrative? You're not alone. Let's dive into the world of corporate challenges of stress and the coping mechanisms we deploy in the face of relentless demands.

Unmasking the Stress Response

Whether facing physical threats or perceived psychological challenges, our built-in survival mechanism kicks in: fight, flight, freeze, or fawn. Evolution has fine-tuned us to adapt in case of threat, causing physiological changes to swiftly defend against perceived dangers.

Corporate Stress in the Modern Era

In today's corporate world, stress arises more from psychological threats than physical dangers. It's about coping with demands that are surpassing our perceived ability to handle them. The stress level hinges on individual perception and coping abilities. For instance, presenting to a large audience might be a breeze and delight for the confident, while for others, it triggers a stress response due to self-doubt.


Identifying our Coping Mechanisms

We usually recognize four typical stress coping mechanisms; Fight, Flight, Freeze or Fawn. While we may exhibit all of these responses based on the specific threat and circumstances we encounter, it's common to have one or two dominant mechanisms.

Fight Response – 'The Yeller'

Healthy assertiveness versus maladaptive overcompensation. The fight response is

about setting boundaries, leading, and making things happen. Yet, over-aggressiveness or offensive behavior, workaholism, perfectionism, or entitlement and thinking everybody should help or support you can turn this coping mechanism counterproductive. Specifically if this ends up in claiming time and energy from other without caring about how they feel.

Flight Response – 'The Hustler'

Balanced breaks versus unhealthy escapism. Flight involves taking breaks from intense or unhealthy situations or disengaging temporarily. However, escaping responsibilities, procrastination, or staying excessively busy to avoid confronting issues can hinder performance and personal growth. Increased alcohol consumption or drugs be another form of escapism.

People that are showing this coping mechanism can feel they have a restless body that will not stop moving, or they constantly move they legs, feet and arms.

Freeze Response – 'The Avoider'

Mindfulness versus unhealthy detachment. Freezing involves staying still and appreciating the present. While healthy mindfulness is beneficial, unhealthy freezing leads to dissociation, emotional isolation, and a refusal to engage with experiences. We might numb ourselves in front of the TV as we just want time to pass by. We don't want to think or feel, we are completely overwhelmed, so we suppress our feelings and whatever is happening inside us.

Fawn Response – 'The Pleaser'

Compassion versus codependency. Fawning can be about caring for others, but the unhealthy version involves neglecting personal needs, creating codependent relationships, and constantly giving to feel worthy. One may typically use the fawn response after unsuccessfully trying to fight, flight, and freeze. Fawning can cause a person to lose themselves in their work and end up feeling empty and resentful as they have invested all of their energy, time and resources.

Recognizing Inappropriate Stress Responses

Our innate stress response is vital for handling pressure. However, in today's world of constant psychological threats, chronic overactivation of the stress system can occur. Inappropriate responses, like a manager's unrealistic demands or avoidance of supporting your team in the right way, can negatively impact the workplace.

Understanding your body's natural responses empowers you to navigate corporate challenges. When tension builds, take steps to calm and relax. And build stress resilience by training your mind & body.

If stress responses become chronic or intense, it might be good to seek help. Symptoms like constant edginess, inability to relax, a racing mind, or persistent fear warrant attention.


In the corporate arena, managing stress isn't just a personal necessity; it's a crucial step towards creating a healthier workplace for yourself and those around you. Prioritize your well-being to unleash your full potential amidst the corporate challenges.

Do you want help?

Do you want help? Or do you want to bring the topic of stress in your workplace? Contact me to schedule a call to see what I can do for you:

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