These five easy to implement strategies to manage stress in the workplace, will help your employees to become happier and more productive.
After experiencing a challenging period in our lives, it’s only natural that it may take some time for things to settle down. And while often there’s no telling just how long it might take to get back to a sense of ‘normalcy’, taking a bird’s-eye view of the situation – and, more importantly, our thoughts and feelings – can transform our entire perspective, as well as our actions. So, what’s the best way to reduce work-related stress in tumultuous times?
Here are some clever hacks which could help manage workplace stress and help employees not only navigate, but triumph during those unexpected rough patches in life.
Watch the self-talk
A first-of-its-kind study in 2017 from Michigan State University demonstrated how talking to ourselves in third-person during a highly stressful time can help successfully control our emotions. “We think referring to yourself in the third person leads people to think about themselves more similar to how they think about others,” said Jason Moser, MSU Associate Professor of Psychology. “That helps people gain a tiny bit of psychological distance from their experiences, which can often be useful for regulating emotions.” Psychology Today suggests a quick and easy exercise: “When using the third person or ‘non-first-person’ pronouns during self-talk, you do not use pronouns such as I, me, or my,” writes Christopher Bergland. “Instead, you speak to yourself (either in a hushed tone or silently inside your own head) using pronouns such as you, he, she, it, or your own first or last name.” Instead of saying, “I can’t do this,” try telling yourself in third-person, “You can do this, don’t give up now!” You can also try ‘fly-on-the-wall’ narrative expressive journaling or “creating a sense of the ‘small self’ by seeking awe-inducing experiences in nature,” as Bergland suggests. Start small and encourage different teams across your organisation to give it a go.
Take back control
Whether it’s a pandemic, economic crash or even brexit, these can all be causes of stress in the workplace and it’s perfectly normal to want to stay in the know with all the latest developments by watching the news. However, it’s just as important to avoid dwelling on negative circumstances by immersing ourselves in round-the-clock coverage, says Dr. Kerry Ressler, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “People tend to amplify each other’s panic. Instead, limit your exposure to checking in on the news a couple of times a day, and then turn it off. Listen to an unrelated podcast, or go for a run.” Remind employees that they are their own gatekeepers and can stay informed without raising their anxiety levels.
Give something back
It’s one of the best ways to feel empowered in disempowering times. By getting involved in activities focused on helping other people, we can quickly gain a sense of positivity, wellbeing, and control. Acts of kindness can instantly put us in an active, rather than passive, role in the face of uncertainty. Could your business do an active challenge for charity? Or perhaps employees could start volunteering? Or simply encourage random acts of kindness in your business? All these things will help reduce workplace stress levels while providing visible results of their efforts. “Helping people who are often in situations worse than yours will help you put your problems into perspective,” says Professor Cary Cooper, an Occupational Health expert at the University of Lancaster.
Get up and move!
Exercise is essential for maintaining physical fitness, but did you know it can reduce stress levels, too? According to Harvard Health, regular aerobic exercise, in particular, brings remarkable changes to your body, metabolism, heart, and your spirits. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) agrees, noting that exercise can be a very effective way of reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and enhancing overall cognitive function (which is especially helpful when stress depletes our energy). According to ADAA, just 5 minutes of aerobics can stimulate anti-anxiety effects – which is just more proof that movement is just as important for your head as it is for your heart. So make sure your employees get up and move, whether it’s a walking phone call catch-up, a team workout, or maybe 5 minutes of yoga.
Time heals all wounds. When it comes to challenging times, moving on doesn’t happen overnight. Grieving is important; according to Dr. Ressler, “Grief doesn’t just occur when you experience a death; rather, people experience grief in many situations.” It could be a change in circumstance for many employees, the loss of an opportunity, or missing out on something they were really looking forward to. It’s essential they have time to grieve so that they can move past it. However, as Dr. Ressler warns, keep in mind that “You can get into the habit of grief,” so make sure you nudge employees towards setting small goals, behavioural rewards, mindfulness, breathing, and physical activity to start pushing forward.
It’s a stressful time for many employees at the moment. But we believe it doesn’t have to be that way. You can help them reduce stress, get more active and become happier and healthier.
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