TOUGH GIG: Andrew Wittman is a former bodyguard to Hillary Clinton, Benjamin Netanyahu and Sir Elton John, and former Marine, police officer, and Special Agent.
TOUGH GIG: Andrew Wittman is a former bodyguard to Hillary Clinton, Benjamin Netanyahu and Sir Elton John, and former Marine, police officer, and Special Agent. Dylan Robinson

Manage stress on the job

EVERY job has its busy days but some roles take stress to the next level, with high pressure and high stakes.

In these roles, work decisions can mean the difference between life or death, a scoop or a law suit, and company success or the wrath of angry shareholders.

Mental health organisation Heads Up says causes of workplace stress can be related to the specific role or more broadly to work hours or company culture.

Contributing factors include working overtime or not taking meal breaks, conflict with colleagues or managers, bullying, and work that is emotionally disturbing or requires high emotional involvement.

A US report based on 11 factors ranging from the potential of bodily harm to the level of public scrutiny revealed the most stressful jobs were those of enlisted military personnel, firefighters, airline pilots and police officers but also event co-ordinators, newspaper reporters, senior corporate executives, public relations executives, taxi drivers and broadcasters.

The Mental Toughness Training Centre founder and chief executive Andrew Wittman draws on his previous careers as a US Marine and special agent when presenting on topics of resilience and pressure.

He says the best advice for managing stress, whether in a military or corporate environment, is to address sleep, nutrition and fitness.

"Cortisol, the hormone that makes us stressed out, gets us out of whack if our sleep is out,” he says.

"(With corporate clients) I make them log their sleep hours and send it to me every day.

"Nutritional and water intake is also important. We all know an Oreo is probably not the most helpful choice.

"As far as fitness, you don't have to be a cross-fitter but get out for a 10-minute walk each day and it will help balance your hormones.”

When addressing a specific stress - such as being asked to shorten a deadline or add an extra task to an already overcrowded schedule - Wittman recommends adhering to "the two-minute rule”.

"Suspend your disbelief for two minutes,” he says. "Say to yourself 'OK it's impossible but if it were possible, how would I do it?' Your brain is the original search engine - if you ask a bad question you are going to get a bad answer.

"Instead of asking 'Why am I so stressed out?' a better question would be 'How can I handle pressure better?'.

"It's subtle but it makes a huge difference.

"The body acts the same way in combat as in traffic so you need to learn how to get this under control.”


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