Vi-An Nguyen: Balancing Stress & Achievement for Better Productivity | Work in Progress #46

In this episode, host Joahanna Wickramaratne is joined by Vi-An Nguyen, who is an organizational psychologist and the founder of A Tam Coaching and Psychology

During the episode, Vi-An and Joahanna discuss strategies for managing stress while maximizing productivity. They explore topics such as the importance of maintaining a work-life balance, preventing burnout, and strengthening the mind-body connection

Meet Vi-An Nguyen

Vi-An Nguyen is an organizational psychologist and the founder of A Tam Coaching and Psychology, a private counseling practice. She specializes in intersectional psychology and culturally responsive practice. Vi-An’s work focuses on understanding how various factors, such as gender and race, impact mental health and emphasizes the importance of strengthening the mind-body connection. She is passionate about helping individuals maximize their well-being and performance while preventing burnout.

About the episode

During the episode, Vi-An explains the relationship between stress and achievement, which exists on a spectrum. A certain amount of stress can motivate and push individuals towards their goals. However, excessive stress can lead to burnout and negatively affect productivity. Therefore, finding a balance between stress and achievement becomes essential.

According to Vi-An, stress levels and feelings of under or overachievement go beyond professional life and impact the overall quality of life. Imbalances in stress can manifest both physically and psychologically, underscoring the need to address these aspects for holistic well-being.

Vi-An emphasizes the importance of self-awareness in recognizing signs of stress and the need for change. To balance stress and achievement, individuals need to acknowledge their discomfort and potentially seek support from others, such as therapists or coaches.

She introduces the concept of “eustress,” which refers to positive stress experienced in aligned and meaningful work. This kind of stress can drive productivity in the short term as long as it does not exceed sustainable levels. Differentiating between eustress and distress is achieved through body awareness and understanding one’s own limits.

In this podcast, several key strategies for managing stress are discussed. One important strategy is practicing self-awareness. By paying attention to early signs of stress in your body, such as tight shoulders, headaches, or gut issues, you can recognize and address stress before it becomes overwhelming. Developing self-awareness allows you to take proactive steps to manage stress effectively.

Setting boundaries is another crucial strategy. It’s important to determine your personal comfort levels with stress and establish boundaries to prevent it from negatively impacting your relationships. Journaling can be a helpful tool for regularly checking in with yourself and ensuring that you’re maintaining healthy boundaries.

Prioritizing rest and downtime is essential for managing stress. Taking intentional time each day to unwind and relax is crucial. Engaging in activities like meditation, yoga, or other relaxing practices can help you recharge and reduce stress. It’s important to avoid constantly pushing for productivity and allow yourself the opportunity to rest.

Tapping meditation is a technique that can be particularly useful for managing stress. It involves tapping acupressure points while acknowledging and releasing stress both mentally and physically. Tapping meditation can help you relax and alleviate stress in a guided and intentional way.

Other key strategies for managing stress:

  • Challenge perfectionist thinking: Instead of setting rigid expectations that fuel stress and burnout, aim for more flexible goals and timelines. Challenge the tendency towards perfectionism and embrace a more balanced approach.
  • Communicate needs calmly: When expressing your stress to others, choose a calm and receptive moment. Clearly communicate your needs and provide specific examples of the support you require.
  • Examine contextual factors: Consider external pressures, comparisons to others, and personal attributes such as gender and culture that may influence your well-being. Recognize the impact of these factors on your stress levels.
  • Find balance: While pursuing meaningful work is important, it is crucial to listen to your body’s limits and prevent stress from reaching harmful levels that can hamper long-term performance. Strive for a healthy balance between ambition and self-care.
  • Seek support: If needed, consider seeking professional support through counseling. Counseling can help you process uncomfortable feelings, objectively assess stress levels, and hold yourself accountable for managing stress effectively.

In conclusion

The podcast offers practical strategies for managing stress, achieving goals, and prioritizing well-being. The key points include self-awareness, honesty, strengthening the mind-body connection through practices like meditation, flexibility, prioritizing well-being, seeking support, and creating safe spaces for discussions on sensitive topics.

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