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Work Environment

9 Ways to Practice Mindfulness in the Workplace

It’s very easy to overlook our mental health when we have a full list of tasks to do each day. But to prevent burnout and becoming overly stressed, below are 9 ways to practice mindfulness in the workplace.

 

Mindfulness is more than just a means of paying attention to your surroundings or attempting to be aware of what you’re doing. Mindfulness is a state of mind describing a sense of being in the moment, of being aware, and of embracing a healthier perspective. 

 

To be mindful is to calm yourself from a reactionary state, and instead choose to be attentive. It’s to focus your time and energy on a single thing, rather than go on autopilot. And to pull yourself out of a daydream and be productive. 

 

Mindfulness has its distinct advantages in life, especially as part of a mental exercise program to combat anxiety, irritability, and depression. Many mindfulness exercises are rooted in the ideas already established and researched through cognitive behavioral therapy, wherein patients are taught to be cognizant of how their disorder affects their thoughts and behaviors, and how they can recognize those errant thoughts and replace them. 

 

Patients are taught to be mindful above all else and recognize when they need to step out of their head and take in the moment around them. 

 

These lessons aren’t exclusive to people with serious mental health issues. Mindfulness can be a great protective tool for preventing burnout, reducing the long-term impact of stress, and being aware of your own mental health and your boundaries (and how your work might be affecting them).

 

Mindfulness in the Workplace

 

Research shows that mindfulness provides a number of benefits, including reduced aggression and stress, as well as improved productivity and sociability. By incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine at work, you can become more focused and improve the rate at which you get things done, and help you become open to opportunities for learning and growth – critical aspects of career-building that, when ignored, can lead to a sense of stagnation and dissatisfaction with one’s work. 

 

One of the key factors behind the effectiveness of mindful practices at work is that it decreases mental rumination or breaks from focused cognitive activities. 

 

It also helps boost what is normally referred to as your “working memory,” and allows for greater cognitive flexibility (the ability to adapt to situations and think on the fly), as well as much less emotional reactivity (learning to disengage from distractions and upsets, and focus on productive tasks and activities). 

 

Yet for many, implementing mindfulness in the workplace is far easier said than done. Most people feel they don’t have time to meditate in the mornings or begin doing mindfulness exercises at their desk. 

 

But practicing mindfulness doesn’t require a huge time commitment or drastic lifestyle overhauls. You can become more mindful in your daily life and reap those benefits in your professional life through a few simple ways. 

 

1. Start Your Day with a Task Journal

 

It might seem a tad simplistic or overdone to start this list with a journal, but this is not the same as writing a self-reflecting journal or starting a diary to keep track of your mental state. 

 

Think of this as a slightly expanded to-do list, meant to help give you the chance to start the day with a list you can work through step-by-step throughout the workday. 

 

A task journal also lets you time yourself, and review over the weeks how you spend your day, and where you might want to improve your efficiency or swap tasks around to make the most of your time. 

 

2. Take 5-Minute Mindfulness Breaks Regularly

 

A 30-minute meditative session is a utopian goal for most people with busy workdays. But a 5-minute break is easy to fit in. Even if you pride yourself on never taking breaks, the truth is that we don’t run well on fumes. There is a chance that if you never give yourself any room to breathe, you’re running your long-term productivity into the ground. 

 

Every hour or two, take five minutes to get up from your station and be mindful. Use the opportunity to get a glass of water and focus on each sip, make a cup of coffee and focus on the process of making it, or step out into the balcony and be mindful of the scenery around you. 

 

3. Set Reminders to Refocus Yourself

 

If you’re prone to daydreaming, sometimes all you need a reminder to snap out of it. You can set these reminders yourself with a simple vibrating phone alarm. 

 

Set it to vibrate every few hours and use that as your cue to take a break or snap back to the moment if you’ve caught yourself ruminating or drifting away. 

 

4. Grab Some Time in the Nap Room 

 

Sometimes, repeated distractions and poor cognitive function at work is a simple sign of sleep deprivation. Instead of grabbing yet another cup of coffee, just get some more rest. This can mean improving your sleep hygiene to grab extra ZZZs at home or getting a regular power nap in at the coworking place

 

5. Enjoy the Little Pleasures

 

Rather than rushing through the day like clockwork, stop and remind yourself to enjoy the pleasures of any given moment – whether it’s the first sip of coffee in the day, your first bite of food, the feeling you get when you complete your first task for the morning, or the satisfaction of a good stretch after an hour or more spent sitting down. 

 

6. Quit Multitasking

 

Multitasking is not as efficient as you might think. It is far more effective to pick a single task at a time and focus on it, than it is to try and complete two or three tasks at once.

 

7. Be Consistent

 

Mindfulness is not a panacea for productivity issues and stress, but it can make a major difference in your workplace – provided you are committed to implementing it on a daily basis

 

Being mindful for a week or two isn’t enough to see lasting change. Be consistent, and reap your rewards. 

 

8. There Will Always Be Slow Days

 

We should aim to be productive most days but cannot be productive all the time. There will always be slow days, when you’ve hit your creative and productive limits, and when you just need a break. 

 

One or two slow days is fine, and you have to learn to cut yourself slack for that. 

 

One or two slow weeks may be a sign that you need an extended break, or that something in your life is causing some serious issues that need to be addressed through more than mindfulness exercises. 

 

9. Consider Seeking Help 

 

There are certain states of mind that won’t always be improved with just a bit of mindfulness. 

 

Crunch time at work, an abusive or hostile work environment, serious financial trouble, or a mental health condition cannot always be thought away, or tackled alone. We all need support sometimes, whether it’s friends and family, the authorities, or healthcare professionals. 

 

Sometimes, the greatest act of mindfulness is to know when you’ve exhausted your own options, depleted your stores, and reached your boundaries. You need to know when to seek and accept help, and preserve yourself. 

 


Read More:

5 Ways to Reduce Anxiety at Work

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Work Environment

5 Work-Life Balance Strategies to Prevent Burnout

Work-life balance – is there such a thing? Though it’s hard to imagine with all the stress, it is possible and should take place in order to prevent burnout. 

 

There’s no easy way around it – stress is a major killer, and a seriously underappreciated factor in why more Americans are struggling with heart-related illnesses, strokes, and more. Rather than simply attribute the recent rise in burnouts to a new generation unable or unwilling to work, it’s important to recognize that times have indeed gotten tougher.

 

      • Despite rising costs, wages are stagnant.
      • The job market is as competitive as ever, with more people turning towards second jobs and extra gigs to make a little more on the side.

 

Work-Life Balance Strategies to Work Towards

 

Churning out all you can, as often as you can, is not a sustainable plan. For many, the idea of maintaining a better work-life balance seemingly isn’t in the cards. But while some of the problems with work-related stress can be blamed on poor management or a tough economy, it’s important to recognize that, ultimately, the best way to work on preventing burnout is to take the matter into your own hands and examine how you spend your time.

 

Work-life strategies rely on training yourself to be more efficient with the hours you have and the work you’re given, while still making time for R&R and your own wellbeing. Below are five crucial strategies that can drastically improve your work-life balance, and even help you get more work done in a shorter period.

 

1. Prioritize Your Daily Tasks

 

One of the best ways to achieve healthier work-life balance strategies is being more efficient with your time. While it might sound like time management is a skill that largely focuses on productivity, there’s a direct carryover to having more time for yourself.

 

Part of the reason people struggle to manage their work-life balance effectively is because they do not have a concrete idea of where and how they’re spending their time. Ideally, we should strive to strike a balance between how much time we spend on personal activities, and how much time we spend on work-related tasks.

 

Whenever you’re about to set out for the day, keep in mind what you’ve got planned for the next 24 hours, and try to follow that plan. We can’t always dictate what direction life seems to take, so we have less capacity to plan for each and every day. Yet with a little time and effort, you can easily keep an overview of just how much time you’re spending on each of your daily tasks, and then you can determine what changes need to be made.

 

Consider what you should do less of and what you should do more of. Consider what changes you might make in order to better do the things you want to do. If you struggle to get a workout in, consider a different gym, or train somewhere much closer. Audit your time.

 

2. Set Regular Goals

 

Goals are critical for growth. When we stop having goals, we begin to stagnate, and that feeling becomes palpable very quickly. Not only does it feel bad to stagnate and feel like you aren’t going anywhere, but without a goal in mind, you will have a much harder time motivating yourself to get anything done.

 

Through simple, yet achievable and exciting goals, you can create a framework to help you get through all of your daily tasks with your goals in mind. Change the way you approach the day by framing it within the context of your current goal, whatever it may be.

 

 

3. Set Up and Use a Planner

 

You might already have a to-do list, and chances are that you’ve got a calendar with a few highlighted dates – but a planner is yet another step beyond both, providing you with the means to more accurately detail what you need to get done each and every day, and giving you a simple way to keep track of your tasks by itemizing and check listing them day after day.

 

Not only does this improve efficiency, but it’s crucial in your self-audit, especially if you want to identify where you could be improving on your work-life balance. It’s not as tedious as it sounds – a simple planner is quite easy to use, and it just takes a few minutes to sit down and consider what you’ll need to get done throughout the following next few days.

 

4. Create Strict Boundaries and Rules of Engagement

 

To create balance, there needs to be a significant difference between work and ‘life’. That means creating clear lines of separation between your work and the rest of your personal needs and assigning strict times when you are not to be contacted for anything work-related.

 

      • Consider taking a break from any work-related emails, posts, and notes throughout the weekend.
      • Make a rule of not being reachable past a certain hour mark in the day (unless it’s an emergency).

 

Set strict boundaries that allow you to rely on having a reliable downtime every day, and create moments throughout the day where you allow yourself to focus entirely on your needs without a care for what you’ve got going on at the office (be it through an hour of yoga, your daily cooking rituals, or anything else that you might use to go into yourself and take a little break away from the world).

 

5. Learn What It Means to Work Smarter

 

While this is arguably the most open-ended and vague tip, the gist of it is that when most of us go to work, we leave a lot of time on the table. Try to follow the Pareto principle, and figure out which fifth of your day contributes to the bulk of your work – then maximize what you’re doing in that 20%.

 

Focusing on what you’re doing to maximize your efficiency in the most efficient part of your day can help you translate that progress into other parts of your work. If you write for a living, you might notice that on certain days, it becomes easy to sit down and write a basic blog post of about 1,000 words in about half an hour, while at other times, it might take you upwards of four hours to write a post with the same quality. This isn’t the difference between an off-the-cuff blog post and a well-researched article, but two similar tasks performed with vastly different rates of efficiency.

 

      • Where’s the hang-up?
      • What did you do differently?
      • What stimulates you the most when you set up to work?

 

Learning to trim the fat and work smarter begins with analyzing yourself. Gather data on your own performance and try to observe what factors seem to influence you the most – then experiment. Do you do better work in bursts? Do you do better work during certain times of the day? If you drink coffee, how many minutes does it take for the effects of the caffeine to help you with your tasks?

 

 

Conclusion

 

It might take some time to realize the fruits of this last point, but it’s inarguably the most important. Learning to analyze your own behavior and improve how you work can not only be incredibly fulfilling, but it allows you to hone in on the moments when you feel the most anxious. It also helps you figure out what it is that keeps you from being your best self in those vital moments.

 

Finally, an extra tip: always seek help from others. Whether it’s your family, your friends, your coworkers, your employers, your partner, or your therapist, don’t rely entirely on yourself for solutions, and remember that you have others around you who can listen and help you with any problems you might have. Nurture those relationships and recognize when you truly need a hand.

 


Read More:

6 Tips for Balancing Work and Family at Home

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Work Environment

How to Stay Productive in a New Working World

Living in a new working world has been so difficult to adjust to that it interferes with our focus on work. We’ve got a few solutions for you. Read further on how to stay productive.

 

The return to work is not without its hurdles. Despite promises of a brighter future with functioning vaccines in the works, it’s clear that our growing and ultra-dense society must learn to adjust to the ever-present danger of highly infectious diseases. The workplace and its commute are the most important battlegrounds in the fight against COVID-19. We can’t survive without a working economy, yet need to embrace new policies to adhere strictly to evolving public health rules, and adapt to nature.

 

However, we aren’t machines. We are people, and people get sick, and people get worried about getting sick. It’s difficult to remain positive during these times, let alone productive, even with an economy that continues to slowly climb out of a deep recession.

 

While some of that worry might not go away anytime soon, we can work on reassuring ourselves and shifting towards more optimism by investing in workplace strategies that keep us and our coworkers safe, minimizing unnecessary transit and contact, and homing in on our passions.

 

Get a Grasp on the Rules

 

Uncertainty continues to be at the root of many of our fears, so reducing uncertainty through clear and effective messaging, simple rules, and widespread access to information possible should be a top priority for any business seeking productivity gains.

 

For most workers, this means getting a clear checklist of changes and guidelines from HR currently in place during the pandemic to eliminate potential infections at work, and reviewing what both OSHA and the CDC have to say about workplace necessities for combatting COVID.

 

The only way to fight uncertainty is to be a little more certain. And by listening to authorities and experts, and putting into play data-driven disease control, you can begin to feel a little more in-control, and get a clearer picture around how you can help fight the virus and avoid getting sick. This usually means:

 

  • Wearing a mask and other levels of personal protective gear when appropriate.
  • Frequent and increased sanitization.
  • Lower elevator capacity.
  • Stair etiquette.
  • Private offices and strict social and professional distancing.
  • Access to fresh air and natural ventilation (whenever appropriate, given the incoming winter).
  • Other forms of tracking and controlling indoor ventilation and air quality.

 

By knowing what can and can’t be done to slow the virus’ spread, knowing the effort your coworkers and employers go through to keep everyone safe, and putting these guidelines to work yourself, you can help ease some of these COVID-related fears and feel more confident in your own capacity to work.

 

 

Consider Alternatives to the Office

 

Not everyone has access to a private vehicle or a sensible bike or footpath to the office. In cities and states where you’d rather avoid public transportation due to a recent surge in cases, or simply don’t feel safe commuting, as well as in cases where the office is (relatively) full as is, it’s important to consider useful alternatives.

 

Many companies are continuing to give certain employees the option to work from home, but many others are embracing work-from-anywhere policies, which includes leveraging coworking spaces to provide an alternative working environment for employees to flock to when the main office is out of reach, or already manned by enough people.

 

Coworking spaces have grown to adapt to the virus by providing isolated and safe private offices, roving cleaning crews, and mandated professional distancing rules, giving companies an option for employees to return to a productive working environment without breaking social distancing rules and endangering workers through an open or limited workspace, or asking them to continue working from home at a limited capacity.

 

A New Digital Embrace

 

As we continue to explore safe options in the return to physical workspaces, online tools will remain vital, not only for enabling collaboration and communication between remote workers and the main office, but for enabling cooperation between different satellite or coworking offices as well.

 

There will be a continued interest in de-densifying the office to minimize or eliminate lengthy commutes and stop the spread of the virus, so ensuring that individual teams can stay in contact with one another at all times and seamlessly cooperate is important.

 

Even within the same office space, professional distancing means you still can’t just pop over to a coworker’s station or office and begin a head-to-head discussion. We will continue to send documents over the cloud rather than passing flash drives, we will continue to communicate largely over instant messaging.

 

The benefits of being in an office, even if spaced apart, are immediately obvious – it’s a much more productive environment, and you can continue to collaborate and give each other a shout over a distance. But virtual tools will remain important indefinitely, especially as they continue to improve in usefulness and scope.

 

Outside of virtual solutions, it may be a good idea to invest in tools and activities to help you feel more at ease in a COVID world.

 

For example: buzzing bracelets that go off when you’re too close to a coworker, ergonomic hands-free options for opening and closing doors and using keypads, hosting daily or weekly meetings out under the open sky and in fresh air, doing creative or physical exercises together with coworkers around the country to improve mood and productivity, and more.

 

Find Your Support System

 

Our productivity doesn’t measure our worth, but it can be a measure of our overall wellbeing and satisfaction. The more stressed we are, the worse we tend to perform, especially when the pressure is overwhelming and not the kind that produces effective results or facilitates growth.

 

We can do a lot to care for ourselves in our own time, but a significant factor in our wellbeing is our access to healthy social interactions, and support among family and friends. Take the time to be with your loved ones, organize virtual or safe outdoor activities with friends, read a book or two, join professional networks to discuss your worries and celebrate your successes, and prioritize your mental wellbeing.

 

If this crisis has taught us anything, it’s that we need one another, and that stress and social isolation can do a real number on both our health and productivity.

 

Categories
Work Environment

7 Tips to Maintain Mental Wellness at Work Amidst the Pandemic

As businesses begin to slowly reopen, it’s important to continue to stay safe and care for your mental wellness amidst the pandemic. Learn from these 7 effective tips below.

 

A snapshot of the US economy back in June showed that nearly 42 percent of Americans were working from home full-time (while 33 percent weren’t able to work at all, and only 26 percent continued to go to work as essential personnel). But thousands of Americans have gradually been called back into offices in cities and states where lockdowns have ended or eased up.

 

Yet while we are slowly going back to work, things are far from “normal.” And it’s clear that, even after the pandemic, COVID-19 will continue to shape the workplace for years to come. One of the things many of us are still struggling with is focus and productivity.

 

It’s become harder to work effectively in the light of this crisis, especially amid sky-high anxiety rates and an increasingly uncertain future.

 

Here are 7 important tips to remember as we try to navigate through the second half of an eventful year.

 

1. Jot Down Your Thoughts and Worries

 

Your brain is often too quick to open a new thread before the first one has resolved. That processing speed can pick up when faced with overwhelming stress. It all accumulates, turning into thousands of open-ended bare-threaded questions and worries, all piling up too fast to be addressed.

 

When you can’t find ways to calm yourself mentally, turn to an empty page and start writing. Jot your thoughts down – stream of consciousness-style or in list form – and just put to words what it is you’re thinking and worrying about. There’s no need to publish or show what you’re writing to anyone else.

 

You could even write it all down and promptly delete or scrap it – symbolically tell yourself that these worries are all transient and not pertinent to the here and now, and you’d like to return to the blank page both in your hands and in your head.

 

Alternatively, consider journaling. Write your thoughts down and use the structure of a journal entry to help organize the chaos in your mind. Reflect on agitated thinking with a cooler perspective, and calm down.

 

2. Use Your Daily Commute to Calm Yourself

 

If you’re being called back to work, your typical commute might be especially stressful given the current situation. Commutes are a terrible time to be struggling with anxious thoughts, as we’re prone to falling into the trap of rumination.

 

Consider finding ways to make your commute more enjoyable and use it as a mood setter for the rest of the day. Pick a happy playlist, or a podcast you enjoy, or some other distraction to help you get into the right mindset for your morning.

 

3. Cut Out News Media and Sanitize Your Feed

 

The news cycle can be especially upsetting these days. Every new day tends to be dominated by at least a few headlines that are liable to spark anxiety and controversy.

 

While it’s completely understandable to feel the need to stay informed at all times, it’s also quite harmful. We tend to develop a skewed view of reality when inundated by a 24/7 news cycle. Especially one that is financially incentivized to capitalize on the worst events of the day. Consider drastically reducing the amount of media you consume, and setting aside portions of the day or week to check out reputable news sources rather than checking the newest headlines every hour on the hour. Avoid starting your day with a bellyful of awful.

 

Similarly, sanitize your social media feeds, or take a break from social media. Visit your Facebook and Twitter profiles more sparingly. Mute or leave group chats obsessed with sharing every piece of distracting news on the Internet. Make room for more qualitative conversations with friends and family through messaging tools and video calls and take a break from the unnecessary stuff that just leaves you feeling down.

 

4. Prioritize Good Sleep

 

While the importance of sleep is mentioned quite frequently in selfcare guides and productivity articles, it’s still a topic that is generally underrated and ignored. We seem to be stuck on catching up with the day’s news and gossip after work and dinner, often in our beds, when we should be winding down to get a good night’s rest.

 

Poor sleep hygiene is a widespread problem affecting millions of Americans, and it’s often only haphazardly covered up by sky-high caffeine consumption.

 

While there’s nothing wrong with a cup of coffee in the morning, it’s a bad sign when you’re endlessly groggy and not quite “awake” without your coffee. Make your sleep a priority, before anything else. Your mental state will thank you for it.

 

 

5. Get in the Habit of Setting Daily Goals

 

Feeling overwhelmed is a hallmark of anxiety, and when it’s at its worst, every day can feel like a paralyzing mountain of unsorted and insurmountable tasks and obstacles.

 

Rather than find yourself terrified at what lies ahead for today, the week, the month, and the year, scale all the way back down and prioritize the top two or three tasks for the day. Set aside just a handful of things that you want to accomplish at work and get laser-focused on doing just that.

 

Ignore what comes after – especially when you’re having a hard day, and just need a place to start. It’s good to think ahead and have foresight when you’re feeling better. But there is a time and place where tunnel vision is just healthier and will help you get more done.

 

6. Split Your Day Into Bursts of Work

 

If you have lots of tasks ahead, consider organizing your day into individual bursts of work paired with short, but effective breaks. Make use of those breaks in a productive way – don’t just go to the bathroom, check your emails, or read an unrelated article.

 

Instead, get up off your chair and spend a few minutes looking out through the window. Make yourself a cup of something warm to drink. Pace around the office for a bit and get a few steps in. Stretch your back and hips, sip some water. Try to take a total break from work, and “refresh” your mind. Use the last few minutes of your break to plan out how you’re going to start your next task. Then sit down and start the next task energized.

 

7. Make Your Mental Wellness Nonnegotiable 

 

Given pandemic levels of anxiety and the sharp incline in stress-related issues since this crisis began, we simply cannot afford to continue acting like burnouts are an appropriate cost and natural necessity for success.

 

Striving for short-term gain while ignoring the long-term consequences is a recipe for disaster in any endeavor. And this goes for the workplace as well.

 

Managers and employers need to do better to ensure the wellbeing of their workers, show their employees that they care about equitable healthcare and better mental health management, and pledge themselves to emphasizing the importance of overall mental wellness. It relates to productivity, creativity, and a company’s competitive edge.

 

To that end, petition for policies at work that you feel will have a bigger impact on your mental health and the health of your colleagues. Get together with other workers and open a line of communication with management to identify ways you can work together and smooth the transition back towards focused and effective work.

 

At home, look for ways to separate yourself from work and seek out activities that help you create a distinct divide between work and home. This could include chores, working out, TV time with the family, or dinner. Appropriately turn off anything coming from work (aside from true emergencies) after a specific time.

 

Conclusion

 

The coronavirus crisis is an ongoing issue, and the changes it will force at home, in public, and at the workplace will shift and mature over time. Making sense of things during this volatile period while remaining productive is challenging, but by taking it a day at a time, you’ll be able to face individual problems as they come up.

 

 

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Work Environment

5 Ways to Reduce Anxiety at Work

If stress has been difficult to handle lately, especially on top of work responsibilities, just know that this is common during a pandemic. Read below on the 5 ways to help reduce anxiety at work.

 

Statistics regarding anxiety and stress in the workplace are alarming. It should come to no one’s surprise that stress is a natural part of any workspace, but nearly three-fourths of Americans feel that they are experiencing stress at work that interferes with their lives at least moderately, with 40 percent experiencing what they define as “persistent and excessive anxiety.” Even more alarming, nearly a third (30 percent) have started taking prescription medication to combat stress, anxiety, nervousness, and lack of sleep.

 

Despite these numbers, only 9 percent of the responding surveyed adults have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

 

This hints at a problem with severe stress in the American work culture, as well as low awareness for the issue of anxiety and its undiagnosed, widespread nature in our workforce. Chances are you know someone who feels anxious at work, or you find yourself often nervous and distracted.

 

Nothing can replace professional treatment and the opinion and care of an experienced psychiatrist. However, on top of seeking help, there are ways you can begin to tackle some of your anxieties at work and be at peace with yourself a little more often.

 

1. Remind Yourself to Be Present

 

Mindfulness can be described as a form of self-reflection, and a form of meditation. Rather than drowning in the worries of what could be, or what has been, mindfulness aims to teach people to take in what is, right now and right here.

 

Patients who are guided through mindfulness are generally taught to begin by taking note of their breathing, controlling its pace and intensity, and trying to pay attention to whatever helps them remain purely in the moment. Whenever you catch yourself thinking about the past or the present, try to stop and recognize the pattern

 

As a form of reflection rather than reaction, mindfulness teaches you to dissociate from your worries by recognizing that they either haven’t happened yet or aren’t immediately relevant. By focusing on the now, you learn to compartmentalize your stressors and figure things out a step at a time.

 

If you’re new to mindfulness, consider speaking to your therapist about it or try a few different handy guides on beginning mindfulness.

 

2. Take a Quick Break (and Look Up) 

 

It might seem like a relatively strange fix, but if you catch yourself stuck in a mental rut and worried about one thing or another, you might need a quick break from the screen. While we are expected to bring our best to the table and work a set number of hours per working day, the brain can only concentrate on a single task for so long. After a while, you’ll start to force yourself to regain focus on the task at hand and fail.

 

Whenever you feel that cycle of distraction coming on, a quick and modest change of scenery can often do a lot to help you reset and get ready to concentrate again. Just get up, stretch your legs, stretch your back, and pick a far point to gaze at – preferably something outside, something natural far out near the horizon, like a mountain or a tree.

 

Think of a long gaze at something far away as a little bit of a mental palate cleanser. Psychologically, this is called a “restorative action.” It’s something we can all do, as long as we have a window or a balcony at the office, and it costs virtually nothing.

 

3. Avoid Your Tics

 

If you’re diagnosed with a neurological condition like Tourette’s, then a physical or verbal tic is an unavoidable behavior commonly associated with stress, although it also often comes out of nowhere. But for most people, nervous tics might indicate discomfort and a yearning for escape.

 

Whether it’s nail biting, Instagram scrolling, or compulsively checking your emails, learn to catch your tics and identify how you’re trying to escape your own feelings of anxiety or stress with repetitive, compulsive actions that serve no purpose.

 

 

Learn to put your phone down, stop checking your mails, and leave your manicure alone – and instead recognize that when the urge for these actions rears its ugly head, it’s time for a break and a quick restorative action for proper stress management.

 

Go for a short walk (even if it’s just to the watercooler and back), take a moment to think on what’s bothering you, or take a deep breath and figure out what’s next on your list. Instead of just suppressing your tics for the sake of it, consider using them as a cue that you need a quick reset or shift in gear.

 

4. Write Up a To-Do List

 

Sometimes, when anxiety hits, that means worrying about ten things at once. And when our thoughts are disorganized and jumbled, it’s nearly impossible to find a single thing to focus on.

 

It’s especially bad when we feel overwhelmed by our tasks and goals and can’t find a good starting spot. If you have a project to finish and deliver, but all you see before you is an insurmountable pile of work, you may feel a little paralyzed.

 

By breaking that pile up into individual simple tasks, you can take what might seem impossible and tackle it one step at a time, starting with the smallest and simplest steps, and slowly working your way down the entire list until you’re done. By creating a to-do list, you’re bringing order to your thoughts, and make your tasks much less intimidating.

 

5. Accept Yourself

 

An estimated 6.8 million Americans are diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and many others struggle with symptoms of anxiety without a formal diagnosis. If you struggle with anxiety and depression like many other fellow Americans, understand that it’s something many others fight, and something you can get help for. You are not less valuable or less useful to society because of this. And it doesn’t make you a bad worker.

 

There are ways to treat and cope with symptoms of anxiety while still getting work done. But you must learn to accept your symptoms, if you do have an anxiety issue, so you can begin to find ways to seek help for them and see improvements at work, at home, and in your personal space.

 

Conclusion

 

Your mental wellness is important to care for. Following these 5 tips will surely relieve some stress and help you gain more focus with work. But just know that you’re not alone in this. This pandemic has affected everyone, and we’re all in this together.

 

Categories
Work Environment

How to Reduce Employee Burnout and Chronic Workplace Stress

Employee burnout and workplace stress are constantly plaguing businesses, and it’s affecting your productivity and your bottom line as an employer – but there are ways to reduce them.

 

Two things should give any employee or would-be employee cause for concern:

 

      1. Firstly, an estimated 40 percent of 2,000 randomly surveyed workers said they were considering quitting their job due to ‘burnout’, and research shows that more than 60 percent of work absenteeism is attributed to psychological and chronic stress.
      2. Secondly, the numbers show that employee burnout is on a steady rise.

 

Understanding and reducing employee burnout doesn’t just drastically affect your turnover rate, but it can immensely boost the profitability of your business. A business is only as successful as the product or service it provides, after all, and without the talent needed to back a good product or service, you won’t have any success.

 

What is Employee Burnout? 

 

Burnout is a condition due to chronic workplace stress, mostly from a variety of factors in a worker’s professional and personal life. Although it’s a word that has only recently gained a lot of traction, it was first coined to refer to extreme work-related stress in the mid-1970s, by American-German psychologist Herbert J. Freudenberger.

 

With a career focused on stress, chronic fatigue, and substance abuse, Freudenberger identified burnout as work-related stress, self-diagnosing it as something separate from depression or exhaustion after succumbing to burnout himself and observing the phenomenon in other people.

 

The World Health Organization has since added burnout to its International Classification of Diseases as “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

 

Identifying and separating burnout from other similar disorders of chronic fatigue or depression isn’t always easy, but there are hallmark symptoms that set it apart from other conditions. The three conditions that best describe employee burnout are:

 

      • Fatigue and constant depletion/exhaustion.
      • Negativism or cynicism toward one’s job.
      • Reduced professional efficacy.

 

While something like a serious depressive disorder occurs due to outside factors both genetic and environmental, anyone can suffer from burnout. Some people tolerate more stress than others, but a combination of causes eventually cause an individual to break down and stop functioning properly both at work and at home.

 

 

Identifying the Causes of Burnout

 

Taking into account the three aforementioned tenets of employee burnout, we can see that a person begins to suffer from burnout when they:

 

      1. Feel constantly emotionally and/or physically drained
      2. Feel as though their input isn’t necessary and feel distanced from their position at work
      3. They are no longer putting any proper effort towards their work, or are unable to perform as they once did.

 

There are many factors that feed these three issues.

 

      • Long hours, ineffective management
      • Leaders that do not listen or take employee ideas into account
      • Turning a blind eye to abuse of power
      • Seeing company resources go wasted
      • Demoralizing or ineffective leadership
      • Lack of respect for work-life balance
      • No appreciation for extra effort, etc.

To prevent employee burnout and chronic stress, a company’s management must carefully consider what each employee needs, and how to properly (and positively) motivate a team.

 

 

Reducing Stress and Employee Burnout

 

When managing a workforce, it’s important to remember that each worker has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. Playing to those strengths and mitigating the weaknesses is critical to improving an employee’s productivity and allowing them to grow into top performers.

 

While it’s crucial to know when to let an employee go, it’s also crucial to recognize when a different direction will help a worker perform properly.

 

As such, keep track of when individuals perform best, and what factors help contribute to their productivity. Allow every employee a ‘must-have’ incentive that can help keep them motivated to continue working hard, such as giving them a certain day off every week to spend time with their family or go see their kid’s games.

 

If you find yourself wasting time in meetings, cut them short or reduce their frequency, to give your employees more time to finish work before critical deadlines approach.

 

Change up the office environment, taking down cubicles and providing flexible spaces for both isolated and concentrated work as well as collaborative efforts and communal bonding.

 

1. Long Hours ≠ Productivity

 

Do not fall for the fallacy that someone who clocks in plenty of hours a week finishes a lot of work. Sometimes, a motivated worker can do in an hour what a tired worker will struggle to do in a day.

 

Giving your team members more time off and guaranteed vacations can improve the overall productivity of your company by ensuring that everyone is well-rested and destressed.

 

2. Embracing Flexibility

 

Another way to help reduce employee burnout is by encouraging workers to take frequent breaks. Rather than sit at their desk without really being productive, a quick break to grab a snack or discuss ideas with a workmate can potentially lead to something better.

 

Rather than clocking in 8 hours of hard work a day, workers should have the encouragement to be as productive as they can in bursts. They should feel comfortable taking a few minutes between bursts to walk around, refresh themselves, and set their eyes on something other than a desk or screen.

 

Flexible office designs similar to those in coworking spaces help emphasize this philosophy by providing a variety of different spaces to work in.

 

3. Encouraging Cooperation and Communication 

 

A cooperative team is ultimately what every company strives to build, but to do that, there has to be communication. That’s thankfully easier to do today than ever.

 

Always keep channels of communication open, so team members can seamlessly discuss work with one another through dedicated messaging systems like Slack or Discord, collaborate and plan through tools like Trello, and more. When a team member needs time to concentrate, they can set themselves to Do Not Disturb until they’re ready to speak again.

 

More than just enabling basic communication and collaboration between team members, it’s critical to be available and open to suggestion as the leader or manager of a department or team. Valuing your workers’ inputs can help them recognize that they provide value to the company, and that their position has real purpose.

 

While that shouldn’t mean simply praising every form of input, it does mean recognizing useful input and rewarding it accordingly, encouraging workers to think critically and bring their own ideas to the table rather than discouraging them from voicing their opinions and pointing out crucial inefficiencies.

 

4. Offer Help

 

Sometimes, stress gets the better of us, but there’s simply no way to pause and take a breather. And even when the opportunity to take a break arises, there are times when that simply isn’t enough. To avoid worker burnout, companies must recognize the value of good mental healthcare.

 

Providing mental healthcare for your workers sends a message that you understand that just taking a few days off doesn’t always fix the problem. Sometimes, some need professional help to function both at work and at home.

 

 

Takeaways – Common Employer Questions

What is Burnout?

Burnout for employees is classified by the World Health Organization as “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed” and can consist of fatigue/exhaustion, negativism, or reduced efficacy.

What Causes Stress and Burnout?

There are many things that may cause employee burnout including, but not limited to: long hours, poor leadership, abuse of power, lack of respect, little work-life balance, and more.

How Can You Reduce Burnout?

You can reduce employee stress and burnout by: reducing hours (as long as they are productive), embracing flexibility, encouraging cooperation and networking, and offering help.

 

Conclusion

Employee burnout is a serious issue, stemming from a growing feeling of cynicism and negativity towards one’s job as a result of chronic workplace stress.

 

Helping employees feel valuable and recognizing their input, as well as helping them better manage stress while continuing to be productive are important in preventing and reducing burnout rates.