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Equip your Team with Strong Stress Management Skills

Everyone at some point in time has been influenced by stress. When we can find ways to develop our own personal toolbox to maximize the positive stress and minimize negative stress, we can reduce stress and even use it to our advantage to boost productivity and adapt to changes. Employers should be mindful of the stress levels of their employees, as it can significantly contribute to job satisfaction and retention. It is human nature to be stressed in our professional lives. Between tight deadlines, long to-do lists, and beyond, it is normal to experience tensions and other negative emotions. Fortunately, there are many techniques and strategies that we can use to help manage our stress in the workplace.

What is Stress?

In order to manage our stress, let’s take a look at what exactly is happening to our body and mind when we experience it. Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. Stress arises from anything that makes someone experience anger, anxiety, or frustration. Stress is the way the body responds to challenges, and it is not always a bad thing. In fact, stress can be very helpful in healthy quantities. Stress can help us avoid danger and work well under pressure. It is a natural response that goes back to the beginning of human evolution, deriving from the fight or flight response, a natural reaction that occurs when we recognize and respond to threats. This has kept humans alive for centuries, and while we may not need it as much now for our everyday survival, it can also come up when we feel like we are under pressure from the demands of our everyday lives. While stress can at times be helpful for motivation, too much stress can be overwhelming when we are exposed to it for extended periods of time. Some common symptoms that can arise from too much stress include:

  • Weight Fluctuations;
  • Inconsistent sleep schedule;
  • Irritability/frustration;
  • Negative thoughts;
  • Increased alcohol or drug use;
  • Inconsistent eating patterns,

Below are some ways to manage stress in the workplace so you and your team can perform at the most ideal capacity.

Stress Management Training: The Triple-A Approaches

Dealing with stress can be approached in three different ways. By understanding the various ways of tackling stress, we can better manage it when it comes up. Below are the three ways you can reduce stress, also known as the Three As:

  1. Alter the situation - Altering the situation is one of the most effective steps you can take towards managing your stress. By taking control of the situation and changing it to be less stressful, you are putting the power back in your hands. You can alter your approach to a stressful situation by:
  • Working on positive thinking and keeping a positive attitude;
  • Improving specific skills that will help you better manage the situation;
  • Doing something differently:
    1. Avoid the situation – Avoiding the situation is about identifying the things that you needlessly stress about, and removing those items from your life. You can avoid a stressful situation by giving a positive no, for example:
      • Say no, followed by an honest explanation, such as, “I am uncomfortable doing that because…”
      • Say no and then briefly clarify your reasoning without making excuses. This helps the listener to better understand your position. Example: “I can’t visit our neighbour right now because I promised Jenny I would take her to the playground.”
      • Say no, and then give an alternative. Example: “I don’t have time today, but I could schedule it in for tomorrow morning.”
    2. Accept the Situation – Accepting the situation means dealing with those things in life that just need to be done, even though they are unpleasant, and being as positive as possible about it. Some tactics when accepting a stressful situation are:
      • Actively practising positive thinking
      • Focus on the benefits of accepting the situation such as the experience and confidence it will provide you.

Finding Flexibility: Learning Adaptability Skills in the Workplace

Having the ability to make changes and adjust to unexpected issues that may arise can impact your stress levels. Being flexible will reduce stress and give increased satisfaction in your job and life. Employees may find they can better manage their stress when they have the ability to be flexible and adapt to unexpected changes. An adaptable employees’ positive attitude can also influence others to embrace change and reduce stress in the entire workplace. By understanding strategies that can help you regain control over your emotions – you will have an easier time managing your stress and gracefully adapting to unexpected changes in a calm and rational way. When it comes to being adaptable in the workplace, acceptance is key. Come to terms with the inevitability of change in your workplace, and prepare yourself by knowing that there will always be industry and organizational changes that need to be accommodated. When we accept this as simply the nature of our job, we can feel better prepared and equipped to handle it. This in turn will build confidence so you can feel more comfortable with your ability to respond to new and stressful situations. Practising improving your emotional intelligence can be very helpful in managing strong emotions such as stress.

By being open-minded to different tactics to complete tasks and reach goals, changes can be made smoothly and reduce stress for everyone in the organization. Another form of flexibility in the workplace that can contribute to stress management is in workplace arrangements or hours. Providing options to work different hours or even work from home can allow employees to better accommodate parts of their personal lives and have a better work/life balance.  This will reduce stress and increase job satisfaction.

Reducing Stress with a Healthy Lifestyle

Having a healthy, balanced lifestyle can be a significant contributing factor to reduced stress in personal and professional life. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can be implemented in various ways. For example, eating a proper diet with a variety of fresh and nutritious foods. Getting regular exercise can also be an effective way to reduce stress in day-to-day life and ultimately the workplace. Exercise reduces stress hormones in the body and promotes natural mood elevators in the brain such as endorphins. Finally, getting enough sleep is imperative to improved stress management. Having a consistent sleep schedule improves concentration, balances mood and improves your ability to make good decisions. By getting enough sleep, you have the energy to problem solve and deal with stressful situations clearly.

Morale Boosters: Benefits to Office Pets

Finding ways to boost morale in the workplace can reduce stress for everyone in the office. One rising trend in modern offices that could be worth considering is office pets. If an office pet is something that is desired by everyone in the workplace, it can be an excellent stress-reducing tool in the workplace. Studies have shown that dogs can reduce cortisol levels in humans, which reduces stress and anxiety. It can also increase the hormone oxytocin that makes humans happier and relaxed. Allowing employees to bring their pets to the office also attracts talent and boosts employee retention. Office pets can also promote taking short breaks throughout the day, which has been known to reduce stress and even boost productivity.

Physical Relaxation Techniques: Mindfulness/Meditation

Meditating and mindfulness exercises can reduce stress and frustration, while also boosting focuscompassion, energy, and productivity. Taking a brief moment out of your day to implement this practice can boost your productivity in the long run and give you more satisfaction as you work.

Most forms of meditation involve sitting or lying in a comfortable position and tensing and relaxing certain groups of muscles while deep breathing. Other forms focus simply on breathing and emptying one’s mind. Guided mediation practices are more accessible now than ever through smartphone apps. A 2018 study found that people who used a guided meditation app for only 10 days reported an 11% decrease in stress. After 30 days of using the app, they reported a 32% decrease. Consider meditating once a day for thirty days and notice how it makes you feel in the workplace and in general.

Conclusion

Finding strategies that will help you and your team manage their stress will improve your personal and professional life. Providing stress management training to your workplace can give everyone a baseline knowledge of strategies they can use to cope with stress, making them a happy and more productive employee. Get a head start on your stress management training with our Stress Management CPD Workshop worth 4.5 CPD hours.

https://integrityacademy.co.za/index.php/qual-cour/technical/cpd2021-2/stress-management-21

Posted by Katelyn Roy on