Stress in the workplace is one of the most common reasons for quitting; 60 percent of employees state that they are willing to change jobs because of it. If you want to make your company a stress-free-zone, continue on reading!
Stress: Our Daily Companion
What defines stress? Stress is a persistent mental or physical tension caused by a specific situation. There are both positive and negative forms of stress. Eustress is a positive kind of stress that can actually increase job performance. On the other hand, distress is a negative kind of stress affecting both our professional and personal lives. When experiencing distress, adrenaline levels and blood pressure in your body increase and remain persistently elevated. Your body remains under a state of tension and accumulates energy that it cannot dissipate. As a result, your body can never fully rest. Distress can cause disrupted sleep, increased dispiritedness and contribute to reduced job performance and burnout.
Stress in the Workplace: Definition and Symptoms
The workplace is a primary location where we experience distress and in Germany, this is a widespread phenomenon. 71 percent of German employees have expressed that they feel stressed as a result of their work. Why is this? Work environments are where we are most likely to encounter the so-called "Stressors". This is illustrated by the three stress factors.
1. The Stressors
These trigger work stress. For example, both an overbooked schedule and tight deadlines, can be reasons for distress.
2. Your Personal Reinforcers
The "degree" to which you respond to something depends on your personality. For example, the firm intention to meet all deadlines can increase distress. Or worrying about not being able to meet a deadline.
3. The Stress Reaction
This is your personal reaction to the stressful situation at work. Some people react in an irritable manner, while others can no longer concentrate and fall into a state of "shock paralysis".
Avoid Work Stress Effectively: E-Learning makes it Possible!
Of all those in the workforce, 70% are inclined to improve their competence when it comes to dealing with stress – meaning learning the correct way to deal with stress on the job.
That being said, how can you offer your employees profitable stress management techniques for them to reduce distress and subsequently, increase their motivation at work? The answer is E-learning. We offer online courses from experts where they share their proven strategies that can be easily applied to your company and reduce work-related stressors. Our online stress management courses are:
- easy to integrate into the daily work routine
- provide knowledgeable lessons from top experts
- practically applicable
- a good way to tackle the important topic of "work stress"
3 Strategies To Effectively Reduce Stress
Strategy 1: Mindfulness, also at Work
Considering that most of us build up stress primarily at work, the first place to start mindfulness is exactly here! By this, we don't mean for you to get out your yoga mat between meetings and do the Downward-facing-dog while your colleagues walk by your desk. Mindfulness is not about a single action but about practicing "being in the moment." The goal is not to have "radio silence in your head," but to be aware of your thoughts, understand their effect on you, and let them go when overbearing.
But does mindfulness really help against work stress? Actually yes! A research group from the Max Planck Society found that regular mindfulness exercises over a period of six months could reduce stress levels by up to 25 percent. One important thing to keep in mind is that: mindfulness needs regular practice. You can easily integrate small mindfulness exercises into your daily work routine to improve!
If you're taking public transportation to your job, take five minutes during your commute. Stow away anything that could potentially distract you: Smartphone, book or newspaper. Now focus your attention on your body and your breathing. Ask yourself how you are feeling. Remember, however, to observe only and not to judge. You can also easily do this exercise at your workplace.
Mindful Coffee Making
Yes, you read that right. You can make mindful coffee (works with tea too, of course). Take your time consciously for the preparation. Focus your attention on the individual steps. For example, you can concentrate on the scent of the coffee powder or observe how the pot or your cup slowly fills up. This exercise is particularly effective from small breaks between tasks. Maybe in the afternoon, when the office mood and energy generally decreases.
Breaks are important, especially for your mind! So try to leave your desk once an hour. Maybe walk a few steps through the office, step outside for a moment, or stand by an open window and take a deep breath. One minute is enough to refocus your mind.
Strategy 2: Enjoy Leisure Time Without Thinking About Work
So mindfulness at work is possible and even helpful. But what can you do when work thoughts won’t leave you alone after-hours? This situation too, is a stressor. Especially in today's world, the lines between work and personal life are becoming increasingly blurred. Known as Work-Life Blending, this phenomenon describes the increasing overlap of your work and leisure time.
In a YouGov survey for example, 22 percent of respondents said they worked on something for their company at least once a month on weekends or holidays. A full 20 percent worked a full day each weekend. Turning off "work thoughts" becomes a challenge as a result. That's why we have two tips for you to help you switch off at home – whether you work in the office or home office.
1. Set Limits For Yourself (And Stick To Them)
Set "work boundaries" for your end of the day. For example, you can set a limit of not answering any emails after 6 p.m. On many smartphones, you can set a silent mode so that no messages or calls are put through to you. Your laptop should also be tucked well away. And no exceptions! The more often you break your own limits, the easier it will be for you to find an excuse to check your emails.
2. Ritualize Your Closing Time – Especially If You Work From Home
By ritualizing your end of the day, you create a "psychological boundary" to your work. You can create these boundaries by…
... setting up a fixed work zone. And you only work in this zone! Other zones, such as the couch, are zones of relaxation.
... wearing "work clothes": It actually helps if you wear an outfit during the day that you would wear to work. Several psychologists confirm that you work more productively if you wear your regular work clothes in the home office. In the evening, you can take your sweatpants out of the closet.
... ring in at the end of the day. Change the "atmosphere" for it. Play a playlist with your favorite songs and change the light in the room. Instead of a ceiling light and a table lamp, you can provide some warm and dimmed light. This way you signal your mind that the workday is over.
Strategy 3: Breathe Away Your Stress
Being more mindful in your workday and turning off ruminations will help you immensely in reducing stress – but the techniques take practice. So what can you do when work stress becomes acute? It's simple: don't forget to breathe. In fact, Dr. Martin Paulus of the University of California, San Diego found in a 2013 study that you can relieve stress symptoms through conscious breathing. So we have three breathing exercises for you to do whenever you need them.
1. Abdominal Breathing
Step 1: Place your hands on your chest and abdomen.
Step 2: At first continue breathing as usual
Step 3: Now observe your breathing: Does your upper hand rise more than your lower hand? Then you are a chest breather
Step 4: Now concentrate on your lower hand and breathe deeply into your belly. Your belly should bulge outwards, the abdominal muscles remain relaxed.
2. 4-5-6 Breathing Exercise
The goal of this breathing exercise is to slow down your breathing, which is helpful for shallow breathing during acute stress. Make sure you breathe into your belly and proceed as follows:
Inhale for 4 seconds
Hold your breath for 5 seconds
Exhale for 6 seconds
3. Alternate Breathing
Place your index and middle finger between your eyebrows on your forehead. Now alternately hold one nostril closed with one of your fingers. Breathe in through one nostril for five seconds and out again for five seconds. Then switch sides by holding the other nostril closed.