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Managing Work Stress
Less Stress at Work
The employee of the future will need to be calm. The employees of the future will need to know how to reduce their stress levels. As both the personal lives and the work lives of all of us are become more and more stressful, new ways to relieve that stress must be found.
“Mindfulness” it seems to many is the next stage in our understanding of stress reduction. Just what is mindfulness? How does it help to reduce stress? A definition of mindfulness is “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness of the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s own feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
Sound like a bunch of jargon? What does this really mean to you when you are pulling your hair out over a project that is late, a kid’s softball game you should be at and another late night at the office? Mindfulness can come from the employer or it can be a frame of mind for the employee.
If you’re in Ottawa and your company is going to assist you in acquiring mindfulness – an ability to be wholly and calmly in the present moment – they might offer courses in meditation or training to be in the present moment sometimes called present awareness training. Some companies that are already engaging in this are Etsy, General Mills, Medium, Google and Goldman Sacs. This is a pretty eclectic group ranging from traditional corporate giants like General Mills, to upstarts like Google and Etsy to very conservative companies such as Goldman Sacs. There must be something very valuable to this line of thinking for all these varied companies to be embracing it.
These companies and many more like them have come to believe that mindfulness – a focus on the present moment – makes them better people, better coworkers, better leaders, better able to cope with personal and professional stress, more successful in their lives.
Here are just a few exercises for you to try to put yourself into a state of mindfulness:
- First Things First: Don’t run into your office, grab a coffee and open your email. No – slow it down just a little – the first thing you do when you reach your office or in your car (parked) before entering your place of work – is take a few minutes to reflect on life. You could do this at home before you leave if there is enough quiet space to do so. Take 5 minutes or 15 minutes to reflect on what is good in your life and what you are grateful for. A mindset of gratitude will change your life in unimaginable ways. Or just take the time to read something inspirational.
- Pick Your Battles: We have all heard this all our lives but what does it mean to you really? Only fight the battles that are worth fighting is another way of saying this. The key is you have to be able to discern which battles those are. There are a million challenges in every day. You cannot respond to them all. You cannot conjure up the maximum fight/flight response for each one. Discern when you can win without fighting or when the fight is not worth the amount of energy and stress required to do so.
Cultivate your stress reducing techniques and practice them daily. In this way, you can thrive while others around you barely survive.