Each individual is in search for peace and happiness. All our actions are in turn a conscious need for peace that we are looking for. Somewhere along the way our actions elude our peace further away.
The two basic emotions that evade this peace is the experience of anxiety and guilt. Both these emotions hog the minds ability to be in the “NOW”. Anxiety is perceived as a sense of impending fear of the future and guilt is always a regret about the past.
In the research conducted by Mind Celebrations more than 60% of people experienced anxiety and 44% people came to work with guilt working at India Inc.
Experiencing anxiety about work at workplace is not productive for attaining business objectives and achieving revenue outcomes. Workplace anxiety is actually contagious and spreads faster than any virus, hindering team productivity and paralyzing potential. It delays individual’s ability to solve problems and take timely decisions. At a brain level it impacts the amygdala, that part of the brain that gets impacted fear and emotions. Pathways in the brain of procrastination get activated hindering ability to be in the present moment and respond. Physiologically according to the Mental Health Foundation, the signs and symptoms of anxiety can include:
- A feeling of dread
- Feeling ‘on edge’
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Dry mouth
- Fatigue and
- Muscle tension.
- Constant worrying
Accelerated Symptoms can culminate to cause panic attack. With a rapid heart rate and palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pains, feeling faint and a feeling of terror, all of which combine to mimic the common signs and symptoms of a heart attack.
Anxiety triggered by an external impending sense of danger is natural and is the body’s way of coping by flight or fight. This is called episodic stress.
It originates from the animal kingdom where a stronger animal hunts the weaker ones. Then all the blood is diverted to the extremities to run (reducing blood to stomach and bladder and less vital organs) the heart beats faster to cope with this run. When the episode is done the trigger, which allows the both the animals to come back to normal.
Human beings have an imminent sense of perceived threat (which means in the absence of a real trigger, the mind has an image of it arriving) that causes anxiety and chronic stress. This is because of a culture of always being on.
Causes of work place anxiety
Poor leadership that is controlling and bullying can take a toll on both mental & emotional health. Continuous Prolonged exposure can increase anxiety at work and outside.
Temperamentally managers that Micromanage, have poor communication, a lack giving direction, with poor team autonomy can unconsciously cause as much damage as lowering employee satisfaction and engagement.
Poor work life boundary and the culture of always being “ON” (no switching off mode). With the increasing demands on work and culture of not truly switching off, adds to a sense of the chronic stress. Human beings have become human doings, underestimating the power of rest and renewal.
Deciphering work place anxiety is a three-prong approach
- CULTURE supportive of mental health preventively. If people matter at work, their full presence is essential to productivity and hence its part of organizational strategy to work on mental health of employees preventively.
Organizations should invest & build culture of emotional safety, where an individual can express themselves in a safe way without being marginalized, humiliated or the fear being punished.
The ecosystem of organizational development, needs to be of building mental fitness as a muscle preventively. Creating positive Mental Health should be given equal weightage as it is given to building functional competencies today.
- LEADERS need to be evangelist for positive mental health by taking care of their emotional health & create emotionally safe environment for others. They need to become aware of their personal motivators & triggers. How they may be causing toxicity or fear in their teams or peers. Sometimes leaders are not aware of their own behaviors and can be deaf to their own blind spots. On the other hand, some leaders are aware and yet hold on to their behaviors as a result of a self-imposed nonproductive belief “it’s the only way I get things done”
- EMPLOYEES need to stop blaming and take responsibility for their own mental health preventively, building emotional fitness on a daily basis like muscle strength is the key to peace of mind and move from anxiety to a high performance.
At Mind Celebrations, after studying science of Human Brain and Human Emotions, and experience of working with leaders in corporate world, we recommend:
- Breathing in and out with a sound once every hour
- Using only one digital device at one time, at work and home. Also, ensuring periodic digital break (no mobiles/tabs/laptops).
- Working in a focused way for 90 minute and then taking a break for 20 minutes. Stretch the body, walk and drink water during breaks.
- Use nature as a way to soothe and calm the nervous system. Look at plants, tree or walk on grass during breaks. Deploy 20-20-20 while working on computer continuously (after every 20 minutes, look at least 20 feet away – preferably plants or trees, for 20 seconds).
- Visulisation exercises of calming places in nature along with deep breathing whilst closing eyes for 5min can release chemicals that are relaxing.
As much as dealing with anxiety is an individual journey and responsibility, prevention of anxiety from work is an essential component of organizational strategy and its health and safety norms.
Mind Celebrations runs Employee Assistance Program, which helps organizations to build culture of emotional safety and ensure employees reduce work place anxiety and give their 100% and achieve collective organizational goals and personal happiness at the same time.