Paul is the Associate Director of Operations at Croner, a specialist in compliance with regard to HR solutions and services. As part of the Peninsula Group of Companies, it part of the largest worldwide provider of Employment Law, HR and Wellbeing consultancy services and related insurance cover to businesses.
8 Ways to Treat Stress at Work
Mental health is finally starting to receive the attention it deserves in various sectors.
Problems such as stress, anxiety, and depression often weaken motivation, reduce performance in the workplace, and even lead to employee absence.
While you can’t necessarily cure any of your employees’ mental health issues, you can, as an employer, definitely help to relieve stress--in the workplace at least. It is your role as an employer to manage and prevent stress in the workplace
Here are 8 changes you can make to your workplace that will enable your staff to de-stress.
1 Workplace exercise
We’ve all promised ourselves that we’ll wake up early and go to the gym. And then after that failed, we’ve taken our workout gear to the office and resolved to go in the evening instead.
But then, it’s late, and you’re tired. You just want to get home, have dinner, and get an early night. And that monthly gym membership feels like a waste of money.
Well, it’s time to bring the exercise to your workplace. Hire a personal trainer, or a yoga instructor, and get them in once or twice a week for an hour. Invite all staff via email and join your employees in burning off some excess energy, losing a few calories, and feeling better about yourselves.
If this seems like too much of an expense, you can always implement a ten-minute break period into your office’s work day. Let everyone know that, in addition to their lunch break, they’ve got ten minutes to go for a walk and get some fresh air. Being inside for large amounts of time is not conducive to thinking clearly.
2 Dress down
Sometimes getting out of bed knowing you need to do the whole business professional look with your attire can be enough to return to the duvet.
For some people, shirts, blouses, trousers, ties, can all be a bit much. People often perform better when they’re in clothes they feel comfortable wearing. Why not introduce a relaxed dress code in the workplace policy and conduct a survey to see what your employees think about the dress code rules? Do they enjoy wearing business attire or would they prefer something smart casual, like jeans and a shirt?
Pay attention to the weather, too. If the forecast for tomorrow is hot, consider allowing staff to put on their denim shorts, t-shirts, or summer dresses, rather than suffering in a tight shirt and tie.
3 Time for a visual vacation
It’s time to let your employees daydream. Really? Really.
Five minutes spent sitting visualing your favourite place to be can help to relax your mind and body. Perhaps you’re one for lying on a warm beach with a cocktail in hand, or enjoying a hot meal in a chalet with the snow pawing down outside. Engage the senses: what can you smell, what can you see, hear, feel? If it’s a favourite place, you’ll enjoy the moment.
Tricks like this one can be particularly effective if you’re due to go on holiday soon. A quick energy recharge can motivate you, or your employees, to forge ahead with work.
4 Let your staff express themselves
When we have a notepad and a pen to hand, we doodle. Sometimes knowingly, but at other times it’s like somebody else is occupying our body while we’re colouring that checkerboard or shading in those shapes. Doodling for a few seconds alleviates stress by stealing concentration away from work, if but for a moment.
Writing thoughts down in journals can help to expel any stressful thoughts or feelings. Sometimes we need to get the negativity out of our heads.
5 Time for a tune?
If your workplace allows your staff to work independently and not be in customer or client-facing roles where they will be speaking and listening to a lot, then perhaps allowing staff to listen to music will have a positive effect.
Believe it or not, the click-clack of keyboards and the tick-tick of mouse clicks can get really irritating--often for no good reason. If your staff can let their favourite songs replace the office sounds while they’re writing their report or finishing their spreadsheet, you might find they have more energy.
And besides, what better the way to lighten the mood than the person who accidentally starts singing aloud?
6 You’re having a laugh. No, really, please have a laugh
It’s difficult to feel angry, sad, or even anxious when you’re laughing. Encourage team chatter between employees so they can build relationships and discuss their day-to-day. Often, just about anything is funny when people are friendly.
If you need more inspiration, a joke book in the office kitchen is a good place to start.
7 Breathe deeply
It’s amazing how naturally breathing comes. But not all breathing is good for combating stress.
Sitting in a comfortable position, with your back straight, and breathing deeply through your nose can have really positive effects on your mental state, and your bodily functions.
To get started, place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest while practicing this breathing technique, and you’ll be able to feel the inflation and deflation of your body during each breath. Focusing on nothing but the breath for a few seconds can help concentration and reduce stress.
8 Relax your muscles
During stress, certain muscles tense up. This, quite simply, isn’t healthy. We’ve all had neck ache, and it’s really not pleasant.
Encourage yourself and your staff to try progressive muscle relaxation. Focus on one set of muscles at a time, usually starting with your feet, and work your way up.
To begin, tense all the muscles in your left foot, and then relax them. And again. And again. Now your right foot. Then your legs, and upwards until your scrunching your face like a crazy person who just wants to reduce a little stress. By the time you’re done, five minutes later, you’ll feel lighter and refreshed.
Don’t let stress be the reason that you or your employees struggle to achieve your potential in the workplace.
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