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  • Tessa van nes

Stress is jeopardizing psychological safety in the workplace

Psychological safety

Psychological safety in the workplace means feeling safe to take interpersonal risks, to express ideas and concerns, to speak up with questions, to disagree openly and to admit mistakes and be vulnerable — all without fear of negative consequences.

According to McKinsey, extensive research -ranging from medical teams in hospitals to software development teams at Big Tech firms-, has shown that psychological safety is consistently one of the strongest predictors of team performance, productivity, quality, safety, creativity, and innovation. It’s also predictive of better overall health outcomes, as confirmed by social psychologists and neuroscientists.

Psychological safety leads to team members feeling more engaged and motivated, because they feel that their contributions matter and that they’re able to speak up without fear of retribution. Secondly, it can lead to better decision-making, as people feel more comfortable voicing their opinions and concerns, which often leads to a more diverse range of perspectives being heard and considered. Thirdly, it can foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement, as team members feel comfortable sharing their mistakes and learning from them.

Leaders and managers play a crucial role in creating and maintaining psychological safety within a group or organization by setting an example, encouraging open dialogue, and addressing any behaviors or actions that undermine psychological safety.


Stress is a natural and adaptive response that your body and mind experience when you perceive a threat or demand, commonly referred to as a ‘stressor’. It's a complex reaction that we can’t control and that prepares you to confront or escape from challenging situations, also referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ response. Stress can be triggered by various factors, including physical, emotional, or psychological stimuli.

As stress is a state of survival, it can alter your behaviors: your reactions can be more defensive and offensive, more emotional and less socially connected.

While stress is a normal response and can be helpful in the short term, chronic or excessive stress can have negative effects on your physical and mental well-being.

The impact of stress on psychological safety

Stress and psychological safety are impacting each-other in a negative way: if your stress levels increase, you are likely to perceive your environment as less safe as your brain is activated to scan your environment for threats and dangers, so your feeling of psychological safety will decrease. And if you feel psychologically unsafe your stress levels will increase, as your brain will perceive more situations as a threat and by that activate your stress response more often.

Next tot hat, if you are experiencing stress this might also impact your environment: if you are stressed, you will create a less safe environment for your colleagues, family and friends.

As a consequence, it is very important to regulate your stress levels. This will not only benefit your own well-being, it will also increase your performance, the performance of your team and the well-being of all the people that are interacting with you!

If you are a manager or leader, you are more vulnerable to stress as you have a larger responsibility. Under these circumstances regulating your stress levels is even more important, as less stress will have a cascading effect on your team that will improve psychological safety and by that overall performance.

Do you have challenges with stress? I can help!

In my practice I use neuro- and biofeedback to provide people that are experiencing stress, with objective insights into how stress and relaxation are impacting their body and brain. Based on this understanding I learn people how to reduce tension and train the brain, so they can regain peace of mind and relaxation and become the best version of themselves again.

I focus on leaders and managers, as I am an expert on leadership & stress by experience and I know that there is so much to gain if leaders and managers would more consciously regulate their stress responses.

But off course I also support others that experience challenges with stress.

Want to work with me?

  • Do you feel your stress is negatively impacting you and want to start working on it? I can support you with a stress measurement, during which I measure your brainwaves (with EEG), heartrate and tension, so you will see and understand the impact of stress and relaxation in your body. The objective measurement and gained insights will make it easier for you to train yourself to better regulate your stress levels. For more information see: link

  • Do you feel your stress is negatively impacting you and want to learn how to better regulate your stress levels, so you can become the best version of yourself? I have got a 3-month programme for you where I use neuro- and biofeedback to train your brain and body to create peace of mind and a relaxed body. For more information: link

  • Is there too much stress in your team or organization? I provide interactive workshops at location to create stress awareness, where we discus stress, how it works and how to better regulate it. For more information: link

Or mail me to make an appointment to discuss the possibilities:

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