Workplaces are becoming increasingly stressful – research has shown that One in four Australians reported moderate to severe levels of distress in 2014. (1) It’s hardly surprising that work related stress is growing as redundancies are becoming commonplace and job insecurity feels very real for many people. This results in working longer hours – often taking fewer breaks and feeling increasingly dissatisfied by a lack of work/life balance.
Although a small amount of stress can be useful to hit deadlines and complete big projects placing the body under constant stress can affect the body and mind in a number of ways. The impact of long-term stress carries very real health risks including: high blood pressure, depression, heart disease, asthma and back problems.
You might be a remarkably calm person outside of work and feel that you can handle anything when you’re in your own environment, but how do you remain present and calm when you’re out of your comfort zone? It is important to consider how you’re managing stress and be mindful of your reaction towards events and the people around you.
Stress can be triggered by huge number of factors and it is important to recognise what these factors are within you. It could be that there is an atmosphere that promotes gossiping, an unsupportive boss, being overworked, undervalued, overlooked for a promotion or a printer that doesn’t work.
The triggers are endless but all have one thing in common they are triggers because we react to them and therefore enable them to become creators of stress in our own body. Signs of stress can include insomnia, difficulty concentrating, upset stomach, headaches, short temper and general dissatisfaction with your job. However, if stress triggers can be caught as they occur it better equips us to prevent these signs.
Firstly, It is important to try to catch the triggers as they occur and bring self-awareness to feelings of stress as they start to arise.
This can be easier said than done when you are in a busy workplace; as there is a tendency to push your own emotions to one side to deal with “more important” matters. Or, you might always feel in a state of stress and are like a pressure cooker waiting to explode with one small event.
If you can observe how you react it will enable you to start breaking your usual pattern and start to recognise the trigger – either a situation or person – without becoming emotionally involved or letting anger guide your reactions.
Notice what is making you react and what is creating the response of anger, stress, anxiety etc. If it’s a person or an event that triggers this feeling then just bringing awareness to this trigger will help you start to alter your reaction.
It is important to take the time to become mindful to each situation as it arises and start to become attuned to the people around you. If you can start to empathise with the person that is causing you unhappiness or understand why they acted in a certain way then you are better equipped to approach a situation with compassion and start a discussion without anger.
Maybe the person you are angry with is feeling unsupported, or is snowed under with work themselves. Whatever the reason take some time to let yourself be guided by empathy and recognition of the other person’s viewpoint.
How can you help the situation? Imagine you have just turned up at the company with no prior emotional involvement, what would you do? Suggest an alternative, offer additional training, have a chat to understand their workload?
Bringing mindfulness to your reactions can have far reaching effects on you and the people around you. It will enable you to approach people with honesty and a place of kindness rather than a place of distrust or anger the results can have far reaching effects to your stress levels and the relationships you build.
A 5 minute mindfulness exercise:
I hope these methods help you through stressful times. If you would like more information please follow The Corporate Yoga Australia company page for tips and advice on creating a happier and healthier work environment.
(1) Australia Psychology Society Australia Survey 2014