The overlapping boundaries between work and personal life, the always ON mode caused by modern technology and social media and the global challenges experienced this last year alone…well we’re overwhelmed just listing them all. And so below are some insights as to why our attitude and beliefs are more powerful than we’d think, especially in the above context.
1. Stress is our friend unless we don’t view it that way.
Stanford health psychologist, Kelly McGonigal, describes how the way we look at stress can reduce its harmful effects. People who successfully deal with stress are the ones that acknowledge that it is part of our environment and view stressful situations as opportunities for our bodies and minds to overcome yet another challenge. McGonigal’s engaging TED talk from 2013 is not only moving (definitely one of our personal favourites too) but still so relative for today’s world that we highly recommend you take the time to watch it even if you don’t have the time for her book, “The Upside of Stress”.
2. To overcome stress, burnout or fatigue, we need to acknowledge them first.
Much like with anything else really, as we need to treat the illness, not the symptom. So taking a break (like we discussed already) is important for distress but also for gaining perspective. The result might be seeing the solution more clearly, unleashing our creativity or focusing on the bigger picture to shift gears in the right direction.
Feeling overwhelmed, discouraged or strained are a temporary state of mind actually and learning to recognize and acknowledge them will allow us to counteract. And once we’ve come to peace that we need to power off to be able to power through, there are options as simple as taking a walk, meditation or even sleep. Although taking real weekends and holidays, actively participating in the company wellness programs and experiencing sincere recognition will have a more long-term and sustainable result on employees’ wellbeing, according to HBR (How Managers Can Prevent Their Teams From Burning Out).
3. Give oneself a present, of being present.
While there are many reasons causing stress, fatigue and potential burnout, quite a lot of them are related to tormenting ourselves about things that have happened in the past or worrying about the future.
Experts advice: stop robbing yourselves! Really! Tuck neatly the lessons learned from the past and move on. Stop obsessing over the future as we are missing out on the moment now which could become yet another regret. Stop robbing your present with thoughts and energy of other realities. Be present in the moment now! Make a conscious decision, say it to yourself out loud – I will lead a happy and fulfilling life now! … and follow through on your word, as simple as that…
4. Taking a break is good for you
Multitude of studies have shown that taking a break leads to reduced stress and anxiety. Simply stretching our legs and taking a five-minute break for extended sitting positions has numerous health benefits including improving blood circulation, lowering the chances of hearth diseases, diabetes, depression etc.
Although the benefits of taking brief movement breaks are well known, a brief research completed by a consulting company recently showed that only one in five from their employees takes a real lunch break, meaning away from their workstations. “Never taking a break from very careful thought work actually reduces your ability to be creative.” Kimberly Elsbach a management professor at the University of California at Davis says while studying the psychology of the workplace. She adds that forgoing a break “. . . sort of exhausts your cognitive capacity and you’re not able to make the creative connections you can if your brain is more rested. If you’re skipping lunch to push forward in a very intense cognitive capacity, then you’re probably not doing yourself any favors.”
This rigs true for all breaks throughout the day as that helps the brain recuperate after performing a multitude of tasks like concentrating, decision-making, problem-solving, and communicating—all of which can cause mental fatigue. Furthermore what we do during our breaks also matters in terms of practices promoting wellness, from movement, to meditation, to have a laughter or enjoy an interesting read.
Remember the old saying about the glass half full or half empty?!