Managing Stress in the Workplace – Rebecca Atkinson
Hello, I’m Rebecca and I’m a Practical Homeopath. Having worked in TV Production for almost 20 years, I had a ring-side seat in the Stress Arena! When I got chronically ill and found total relief through Homeopathic treatment, I re-trained as a Practitioner and now my passion is using natural remedies and simple health care tips to help busy people to get well and stay well.
For more information on Rebecca, her blogs or to contact her please visit her website.
Stress has become a bit of a buzzword – a catch all phrase, but what does it actually mean? There are 3 dictionary definitions: –
- Pressure or tension exerted on a material object
- A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances
- Give particular emphasis or importance to (a point, statement or idea) made in speech or writing
The first definition can apply to our physical health and this, in the workplace, can be as simple as the office temperature being uncomfortable or the desk the wrong height or having to watch a screen all day. How many offices think about providing for a 5’10” person sitting at a desk as opposed to a 4′ 3″ person – chairs can be adjustable. Employers can observe what their employees are wearing at the office to gauge the temperature – if it’s a hot day and yet everyone is wearing a jumper – the air conditioning is up too high. Equally in winter if it’s cold outside and yet everyone is in T-shirts in the office – the heating is too high. Both of these are equally unhealthy not to mention costly and will be creating physical stress.
The second definition is very individual and any employer can (and should), obviously put things in place to encourage and support employees to have an outlet to express any worries or concerns, e.g. regular one to ones, Two-way performance reviews, and an open-door policy. But there are a number of basic self-care strategies we can all adopt, to do what we can to help minimise our stress levels: –
- Commit to getting enough sleep – this is basic self-maintenance – we do not make good decisions or judgement calls when we lack sleep. Sleep issues are very debilitating and form a large proportion of my Practise. Homeopathy addresses the underlying causes so healthy sleep patterns are resolved relatively quickly. It is not always simply a question of deciding to go to bed earlier so when I say ‘commit to enough sleep’, if that means you are someone who is a chronic insomniac, that means it’s very difficult to be the best You and you owe it to yourself to get it sorted.
- Minimise artificial stimulants like coffee or sugar or alcohol, which may offer instant gratification, but actually in the long-run deplete us of vital nutrients and actually make us more exhausted and anxious.
- Use phone apps to set regular reminders to us to get up and stretch, or check our posture and take a few deep breaths and/or drink some water. I have mine set to every 60 – 90 mins if I’m working on my laptop. Sitting in the wrong or misaligned posture for hours every day contributes to physical stress and tension and can create ill-health in the long term.
- Drink as much water as possible – dehydration is one of the biggest causes of headaches, especially when using computers and insufficient hydration is a form of stress.
- If applicable, walk up or downstairs rather than taking the lift – we are not meant to be stationary creatures, we need to move regularly. Where ever appropriate instead of an email to someone in the same company, get up and go visit them – as well as the break from sitting, the exercise of walking, you are connecting with them which helps form a sense of community and support. It’s also often much quicker to speak rather than write as we pick up all the nuances and tones of voice that can make the difference to how a message is received.
- Commit to eating something non-sugary and non-processed at break times, foods that are actually giving us nutrients and are slow burning so don’t deplete us. Sugar spiking is something that really harms our adrenal glands, and it is the adrenals that control our stress hormones. If you are finding that you are dependent on stimulants like sugar and coffee, feeling either elated or exhausted, have sleep issues and feel anxious on a daily basis, then your adrenals are struggling and you are definitely stressed. Adrenalin – the ‘fight or flight’ hormone – is meant to be released in life-threatening situations, but today many people are constantly releasing it and therefore yoyoing between highs and lows. I treat many people suffering from this adrenal exhaustion and Homeopathic remedies are excellent at re-balancing and restoring this very common complaint.
Stress is highly individual – one person’s stress is another’s fuel, some people thrive on working as a member of a team, whilst for others, it demands a huge effort on their part since they work better alone or are intensely shy. For some there may be a clash of personalities creating a source of emotional stress and often this can be resolved by allowing both parties to speak about where they are coming from and what they are hoping to achieve, getting to know the person better so even if we don’t necessarily operate in the same way, we can respect that person’s model of the world and what is driving them.
The manner in which we manage our emotional stress levels is unique to each person. But we absolutely can manage it, if we are firstly aware of ourselves and how we work – what nurtures us and what harms us physically, emotionally and spiritually. Our fears and anxieties are different, as is what is going on in our personal lives, if we don’t look at these and help ourselves to address deep-rooted issues, then firstly we won’t know how we work and therefore how to protect and nourish ourselves, and secondly, we will carry these issues and emotional responses where ever we go, including our workplace. It is not possible to switch these responses off just because we are in a different environment, and suppressing them can be a source of stress in its self.
Many of us spend more time in our jobs than we do at home and life is too short and potentially wonderful to continue feeling stressed or unhappy so why not make a commitment to yourself to change that? The best time to start is right now!
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