+44 (0)1322 286826 | info@ebwonline.com

How Using An Envelope Can Stop Your Stress

Page 1 of 23

Learning to switch off from worries and difficult work issues is the key to success.

We all know we should have "downtime".

Rest periods...time when we don't think about work.

Time when we focus on family, sports, sleep....

Time in our life when we stop worrying and we take time to relax.

Research has consistently shown that recovery time is important for high performance. 

But in our 24/7 work culture, how do you switch off from work and stop worrying about a situation or a difficult decision that you have going on?

Xiuping Li decided to investigate how a simple psychological technique could enhance our ability to manage negative emotions about an event or a decision that we regretted.

In the study, eighty students were asked to write about a recent decision they regretted.

Half of them were then told to seal their written recollection in an envelope.

Afterwards, the envelope students felt less negative about the event than the control students who just handed in their recollections without an envelope. 

Two further experiments shed some light on the process.

Sealing a disturbing news story in an envelope reduced the negative emotional impact of the story and reduced participants' memory of it.

By contrast, sealing an unrelated piece of paper did not have these effects, thus showing that it's the act of containing the emotional material that's important, not the mere act of putting anything in an envelope.

Finally, sealing in an envelope a written recollection of a regretted event led participants to feel less negative about the event than simply paper-clipping the pages together - so it's not just the mere act of doing something to a written recollection, it is specifically enclosing that material that is beneficial.

What's more, this final experiment showed that the link between enveloping the material and participants' feelings was entirely mediated by their having a greater sense of psychological closure.

'We have shown that the metaphorical act of enclosing and sealing influences the memory, in the sense that the recollection of the emotional details of an event becomes weaker,' the researchers said. 'An effective way to relieve distress may be for the distressed person to seal an object related to his or her emotions in a package.'

The EBW View

So in future when something is troubling you and your worried about work, recognise those negative emotions and use your Business Emotional Intelligence.

Write your worries down, put them in an envelope and seal it.

Doing so should help bring you psychological closure and help you cope more effectively with your stress at work.

If you want to update your manager/leadership or coaching toolbox click the link below to discover how partnering with EBW could help you, your team and your organisation.


Click the button: Partner with EBW to use Business EQ Assessments, Tools and Programmes to improve your business

Find out about becoming an authorised EBW Partner


The EBW Global Emotional Intelligence System is a unique assessment and development tool for Managers, Executive Coaches, HR experts and Psychologists.

Based on over 20 years of worldwide use and research, it enables you to get leaders and teams to understand why they behave the way they do and use a highly effective 10 step framework to improve their occupational performance.

With a practitioner's network based on 6 continents, all of whom are licensed to use the EBW System, we guarantee the EBW Emotional Intelligence approach empowers leaders and teams to transform themselves and their organisations. 


The EBW is the EQ tool of choice for many world-leading companies, including: