Relieving Stress Together Using the FISH! Philosophy

Published On: September 13, 2023Categories: Blog

Nobody likes to feel stressed, and nobody likes to be around stressed people–after all, it seems like when someone around us is stressed out, we can’t help but start to feel that way ourselves. Believe it or not, this isn’t just your imagination–it’s a real evolutionary advantage.

Humans (and all social animals) evolve to be in-touch with each others’ nervous systems, because when one member of the tribe or pack senses danger, it’s in everybody’s best interest to feel those sensations as well, for the good of the group.

Fast forward to the present-day, however, and this advantage can start to feel more like a liability. Our stressors these days are often less of the “predator nearby” variety and more of the “urgent deadline” variety–and when we pick up on our coworkers’ individual stressors, we can just start to shut down ourselves, to the benefit of nobody.

However, this individual stress can be kept from spreading throughout the community as long as we all work together to minimize it. Here’s how you can utilize the four pillars of the FISH! Philosophy to combat workplace stress and keep it from infecting your whole office:

Be There: Support each other as a community

If the threats of the past are no longer a major concern in our lives, why do our brains pick up stress from things that are (comparatively) low-stakes? While it’s true that our brains are amazing machines, capable of taking in massive amounts of information, the world around us has evolved even more quickly. Whether it’s billions of people on Earth, billions of pixels on our screens, or even just the lights, sounds, and smells of city living, our brains simply can’t always process what is an exponentially larger amount of stimuli than we’re evolutionarily trained to take in.

But while we may not be able to process all the countless pieces of information coming our way, we can better avoid being overwhelmed by it if we work through it as a community. When we come together to support each other physically and emotionally and build comfort that overcomes our natural distrust, we can navigate the world together and change our neural pathways to avoid going into that fight-or-flight survival mode that causes us so much unnecessary distress.

Make Their Day: Help pull people out of stress spirals

We’ve all felt that loss of control that comes with feeling overwhelmed by stress. You’re so consumed by one difficult problem that every other part of your life–even the simple actions that you’d never think twice about–can feel just as troublesome to tackle. This stress becomes a downward spiral of negativity, as these feelings compound and your own mind threatens to drag you under.

Fortunately, we can “snap out” of these stress spirals with the help of those around us. If someone sees us in distress, they can help talk us through our stress–contextualizing it, identifing what’s really challenging us vs. what fears are just coming along for the ride, and ultimately helping us reframe and refocus our mind so we can tackle the stressful situation head-on.

Choose Your Attitude: Avoid adding stress to an already stressful environment

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” or so the old idiom goes. And this is true with stress as well. Once we’re in a state of elevated ambient stress levels, getting them to go back down becomes significantly more difficult, so the easiest way to minimize stress is to avoid it altogether.

To do our part in this, we need to practice self-awareness and recognize how we may add stress to the world, or even just our workplace. For example, how do you behave when you’re angry or frustrated? Do you sit with your emotions and work through them, or do you blow up in front of others? No matter how friendly, fun, or well-liked you are normally, if your coworkers know that you may lose your temper at any moment, they’ll be walking on eggshells around you–increasing that ambient stress. So do some internal reflection and work to avoid automatic behaviors that might add stress to the people around you–they’ll likely return the favor!

Play: Use laughter to learn together

We talk plenty about how Play is not just a game; it’s a state of mind–but whether you’re kicking a ball around or toying with new and novel ideas, we should never forget to laugh. Laughter is scientifically proven to reduce stress and increase our relaxation and overall happiness, yet laughter is worryingly rare in most workplaces. So what can we do to change that?

It doesn’t have to be a big policy shift; adding laughter to your work is as easy as not taking yourself too seriously–poking fun at your own foibles, commiserating with others about life’s various challenges, and even just letting your guard down during fun activities can all make it easier for those real, raw belly laughs to reveal themselves and bring everyone together.

Ideas to Reflect On:

  • Do you recognize when your coworkers are stressed out? Do you respond to that stress by ignoring it, or helping them work through it?
  • Are there any behaviors in yourself that you’re aware of that may add stress to your workplace? If so, how can you avoid or temper those tendencies while still engaging honestly with your emotions?
  • What’s one thing you can do tomorrow to bring more laughter into your work environment? Is it something others can do as well?

Whether you work in business, education, or healthcare, FISH! offers accessible, intuitive solutions to empower your workers, bring your team together, and avoid the symptoms of impending burnout. We invite you to contact us today at 800.695.4534 or to speak with our cultural specialists, who will help you find the right FISH! Philosophy solutions that will nurture your organizational culture and motivate your team!

Want to Implement FISH! in your organization?

Are you a leader?  Do you train others?  Do you want others to be leaders?

Charthouse Learning, the creator of the world-famous, award-winning, FISH! film is offering an in-person, 2-day workshop, interactive Train-the-Trainer lead by our Senior Trainer.

During our time together you’ll learn how to:

  • Share the motivation and foundation of FISH!
  • Introduce the FISH! film with the four practices.
  • Present the invitation to apply the practices in everyday interaction with others.
  • Build a sustainability and reinforcement program to transform the culture.
  • Pick up tips from other FISH! Philosophers and develop a strategy to embed the practices into the DNA of your culture.
  • Create an energized organization that is the “first choice” for employees, faculty, staff, leaders, and customers.

Plus, you will learn how to create a workplace where people choose to “be and bring” their best self everywhere, every day.

At the FISH! Train the Trainer you will:

  • Dive Deep: Discover The FISH! Philosophy – full of “A-ha!” takeaways and perspective-shifting realizations.
  • Transform: Make the four FISH! practices – Play, Be There, Make Their Day and Choose Your Attitude – an essential part of your professional and personal skill set.
  • Discover: Learn practical ways to apply the FISH! practices to improve teamwork, service, leadership, retention and performance.
  • Develop: Brainstorm strategies to embed The FISH! Philosophy into the DNA of your culture, strengthening your mission, vision and values.
  • Collaborate: Learn and laugh with like-minded folks from across the globe.

Click Here for More FISH! Train the Trainer Information

FISH! Executive Briefing

You have probably heard about the Culture Shift in the news. Organizations are struggling to find talent, employee morale is low, retention is a common goal and customers are dissatisfied with buying experiences.

These are all symptoms of an underlying challenge leadership is faced with every day, regardless of the industry. You can look for temporary relief or an overall, long-term cure.

Join us for a 60-minute webinar on the world-famous, award-winning FISH! practices.

Click Here for More FISH! Executive Briefing Information


Whether you work in business, education, or healthcare, FISH! offers accessible, intuitive solutions to empower your workers, bring your team together, and introduce Play into your organization. We invite you to contact us today at 800.695.4534 or to speak with our cultural specialists, who will help you find the right FISH! Philosophy solutions that will nurture your organizational culture and motivate your team!

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