Whether it’s our lifestyle (eating habits, sleeping manners, state of health, etc.), our behavior or our environment (heavy workload, tardiness and absenteeism, hierarchical pressure, conflicts with colleagues, etc.), we are surrounded by potential sources of stress, which could eventually lead to physiological, behavioral or emotional distress on the individual and his entourage.
The negative effects of stress are many, including weakened decision-making skills, especially in times of uncertainty. Prolonged exposure to high levels of stress presents a risk to physical and mental health. For example, studies have shown a proven link between stress levels and certain chronic diseases such as certain cancers (colon, lungs, esophagus) as well as hypertension. Moreover, "burnouts" are a direct consequence of this phenomenon.
For all these reasons, it is also in the employer and managers’ best interest to monitor and provide support for managing the stress level of their employees.
Working conditions can be an important factor in the onset of stress in a particular individual. Specifically, an excessive workload, existing inter-personal conflicts, the lack of control or autonomy over one’s working style as well as contradictory injunctions (which make employees feel they need to deliver something and its opposite) can trigger stress in an individual.
It is however worth mentioning that, surprisingly, when kept to a reasonable level and withing a limited time period, stress can also potentially have positive effects. As a matter of fact, stress can boost our energy in the of face new challenges and can induce a high capacity for concentration.
The goal then, is not to completely eliminate stress, but rather to manage its levels and duration of it in our lives, as a way to hack our performances, while taking pleasure in achieving results that stimulate us. Although research has yet to reveal an effective systematic approach to stress management, there are a number of stress relieving activities known to us :
As an individual:
The practice of meditation, listening to music, increasing our amount of sleep and reducing our consumption of stimulants (coffee, coke and tea), taking holidays.
In a professional setting:
improving teamwork and the atmosphere at work, including positive relationships, effective distribution of the work load within teams and frequent use of humor (in a positive way, i.e., one that avoids cynicism and denigration);
improving managerial efficiency, and in particular the increased ability of supervisors to structure work in such a way as to give their employees greater autonomy, to co-construct SMARTs objectives with them, and to provide them with frequent constructive feedback... But also, and most importantly, to treat them with consideration and respect at all times, which is not necessarily a given for all the managers we have met.
So, depending on whether you are reading this article as a manager wishing to lower the stress level in their organization or as someone who wants to lower their own stress levels, the solutions considered may be different.
Activities to reduce an organization's overall stress level
Reducing overall stress is synonymous to increasing the level of managerial efficiency in your organization as well as the management of work and the functioning of teams. This can be done, but will require a significant and prolonged effort that involves training, team coaching and individual coaching.
You can also, in a more original way, provide space for short naps (and send the signal that it is OK to rest a little during the day), have a music broadcasting system in certain spaces and facilitate access to relaxing activities including meditation (at Beautiful Soul, we offer Tai Chi classes in particular).
Individual stress reduction activities
Individual coaching is extremely helpful for this matter. It makes it possible to quickly clarify levers of action and the ways to implement them. A coach can help you find that "little extra" in terms of motivation that helps you get out of your routine by quickly changing a few key elements. One of our coaches talks about it in this video much better than this article could describe.
To find out where your stress level stands, you can fill out the questionnaire HERE (called the "Maslach Burn Out Inventory").
Would you like more information about our coaching and training programs to reduce your stress or that of your employees? Do not hesitate to contact us at + 33 825 53 55 / +221 77 099 05 42