Humans from an evolutionary perspective, have evolved from animals and hence a deeper understanding of animal behavior in the wild is important to understand stress at workplace.
When a prey is attacked by a predator animal, the entire experience is physiological and not emotional in nature. The predator is hungry and his biological needs gets him to run and attack, the prey runs to safeguard himself. A few things happen in this entire event:
- His heart races fast to pump blood to the extremities to run
- Blood flow is diverted to vital organs and brain, reducing blood flow to the stomach and intestines, and of course to sexual organs (since they serve no vital functions at that point)
- The pancreas pumps sugar into the blood and muscles, for the prey to run faster.
There are 2 outcomes of this. Either the prey gets eaten or the prey runs to safety. The stress this event creates is called as Episodic Stress. The body jumps back to a state of homeostasis (inner balance or normalcy) after the event is over.
Human beings on the other hand have Episodic Stress at work place due to sudden work pressures and/or timelines like year, month, quarter ending (eternal triggers that disrupt inner balance). But they also encounter chronic stress due to their inability to deal with the triggers both internal and external. Add to this, the way in which, individuals use technology (digital devices like mobile phones, laptops & tablets). The culture of always Being On doesn’t allow a state of relaxation or normalization in case of human beings. Fractured focus and being occupied in multiple things simultaneously (not being fully engaged in any one thing) can further add to the perceived & actual stress.
When chronic stress takes over human life, human’s move from human beings to human doing. This increases blood pressure and heart rate. It makes an individual susceptible to blood pressure and heart problems, along with reduced blood flow to the gut which precipitates acidity and gastritis. Over time we feel dipping energy levels and it can translate into burn out (announced as fully blown disorder by WHO in 2019).
Strategies for managing stress in the workplace
- Recognize that some amount of stress enables the best in individuals to emerge.
- Recognize your toxic habit’s that don’t allow you to rest
- Recognize your triggers to stress, both internal and external
- Recognize your real feelings and thoughts that leads to panic in you (or around you)
- Recognize automatic negative thoughts (ANT) that you have about yourself or others (decide action while being aware of ANTs)
- Realign on your full potential to unfold
- Realign yourself preventively to build mental strength and fitness like a muscle
- Realign by breathing in and out with a sound once every hour
- Realign your focus and stay away from distractions.
- Reposition how you want to feel and deal with the situation
- Reposition negative imagery with more conducive images at work or pertaining situation, imagine favorable outcomes
- Reposition yourself from the stress room to the relaxation or recovery room of your mind by investing time in relaxation periodically at a fixed time. Perform this as a preventive step and develop it as a ritual.
- Reposition by prioritizing what is urgent and important, negotiable and non-negotiable with the wisdom to know the difference.
- Reposition your working style to a cycle of 90 minutes and then resting the mind and stretching the body by walking and body stretching in next 20 minutes.
- Rescript in your mind how you would like your day to be (in the morning after getting up)
- Rescript an open body posture or a power pose to build confidence
- Rescript how your response are in synchronicity with your outcomes.
- Rescript tough conversations that you intend to have
- Rescript the wisdom in knowing the difference between the things that are in your control and things out of your control (don’t worry about things not in your control)
- Rescript your personal energy levels to be high. Do it by auditing people and situations that drain you and finding conducive ways to refill your energy batteries (take an assessment at https://mindcelebrations.com/energy-amplifier-assessment/ )
- Rescript by eating a well-balanced meal, sleeping for 7 hours of deep sleep without technology interface 90 minutes before you sleep & after you wake up in morning.
If you recognize, realign, reposition, and rescript your thoughts and emotions as a daily ritual, your productivity focus and ease of doing work is the resultant outcome of this practice.
Mental strengthening is the key to stress management at the work place.
Dr Kanan Khatau & Gurdarshan Singh, authors of this article are Co-Founders of Mind Celebrations, a pioneering preventive Mental Healthcare initiative for organizations and their employees. To know more about Mind Celebrations, visit www.mindcelebrations.com and take your preventive mental health assessments today. They offer customised Employee Assistance Programs and Employee Counselling for organizations. They help in stress management at work place through unique workshops like Digital Detox, Emotional Fitness and Energy Amplifier (not limited to).