Responding to any sort of challenging behaviour or to behaviours of concern or behavioural distress requires good reasoning skills and composure. On our Challenging behaviour training courses and our Physical intervention training sessions we explore how staff may be feeling themselves during what can sometimes be stressful time.   To be supportive, and to be effective they will need to recognise and manage their own ‘Fight or Flight’ response.

Fight or flightThe changes human beings experience under stress can be beneficial especially if we are in danger and need to act quickly to survive.  However, they can also cause us to over-react or behave recklessly in some situations, such as when faced with an angry or aggressive person.  It’s crucial that staff learn more about what stress is, how it affects them, and how it can be managed.

The stress response itself is a normal and natural response and can occur in differing degrees of intensity depending on the situation.  Although we may not be in any real danger, any situation that takes us out of our comfort zone can trigger a stress response e.g. being exposed to risk or feeling anxious, being challenged or verbally assaulted, or physically threatened.

It is crucial that you stay calm and focused when managing an incident. You need to be thinking clearly and rationally. A relaxation technique is any method, process, procedure, or activity that helps a person to relax; to attain a state of increased calmness; or otherwise reduce levels of anxiety, stress or anger. The key is to stay ‘C-A-L-M’:


By taking a deep breath and slowing your breathing you can reduce stress in two ways:

  • Firstly by allowing the body to absorb all the inhaled oxygen. This means the brain is fully supplied with oxygen and so thinking capacity is optimised
  • Secondly, the regulation of the breathing process can slow things down and facilitate relaxation


By anticipating some of the difficulties and challenges you face it is possible to assert control in two ways:

  • Firstly with time to plan and prepare you are likely to be better positioned physically and psychologically to cope with and manage the situation
  • Secondly, if you anticipate abuse, shouting, swearing and other challenging behaviours you are better prepared emotionally to handle it. Often when it happens unexpectedly you respond more emotionally, with anger or fear


Muscle tension can be energy sapping as well as re-enforcing in your mind that you are tense. This can result in the release of stress hormones being sustained. By relaxing and loosening muscle tension you can achieve two things:

  • Firstly you become more relaxed physically, and so psychologically you will also relax
  • Secondly your body language will loosen up and become more relaxed. This will mean the non-verbal signals you are sending out will be more conducive to calming and de-escalation


It is very easy to become personally involved in an incident. This is incredibly mentally taxing. You can also take things very personally, and end up feeling like the words or behaviour are targeted directly at you. Neither are helpful or healthy.

So try to emotionally detach yourself from the situation. This will enable you to step back and see the bigger picture, as well as avoid experiencing any personal hostility which could adversely affect your decision making.

For more information on managing stress within the context of responding to situations that arise within the work setting check out our training courses. SecuriCare offer a range of courses designed to enable support workers, carers and foster families to best respond to any ‘Challenging Behaviour’ that may occur. All programmes are finalised after full training needs analysis and delivered by experienced frontline practitioners. Click to see our ‘Preventing & Managing Challenging Behaviour’ Course which includes ‘Positive Behaviour Management’ techniques designed to minimise the need for any kind of restrictive intervention. You can also take a look at our person centred Behaviour Planning Service.

Securicare also offer a ‘Restraint Reduction’ support service and training in support of improving safety. Check out our ‘Physical Intervention’ courses and our online ‘Restraint Risks’ course, or ask for details about our newest course 'Physical Interventions: Removing Risk & Reducing Use' a course that provides practical guidance on how to manage risks within the context of an incident as well as prevent future restraint use. 

Contact us for more information and to discuss your needs: E: or T: 01904 492442