As workplace stress continues to rise, employers and researchers are getting more creative with how to manage it.
A recent study in Workplace Insight reports that almost half of employees are more stressed at work than they were a year ago: “…they have been asked to do more under their current role – the response from 57 percent of those who feel more stressed. This is followed by 26 percent who said it’s because the organisation they work for is under greater financial strain; 26 percent who said their line manager is not functioning properly and one in four (25 percent) who said they are just generally working longer hours.”
Of course, many factors cause stress at work, and while they may be amplified in recent years, this type of stress is nothing new. It’d also be unrealistic to assume that stress at work can be completely eradicated. We may, however, work together to find better ways to manage stress in the workplace.
From a study produced by researchers at the University of Central Florida College of Business, which examines the role that sleep and daily exercise can play in the prevention of debilitating work stress, two clear conclusions were made: adequate sleep and regular exercise are two ways to prevent work stress from taking its toll on your body and mind. The study concludes: “…burning an additional 587 calories can reduce the harmful effects of mistreatment and help prevent it from carrying into the home. For the average American man, these gains can be achieved with an hour of swimming or a brisk 90-minute walk.”
Psychology Today clarifies that unhealthy levels of cortisol—the stress hormone—are directly responsible for the rise in stress and stress-related illnesses. “Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease…Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy.” Any of these conditions could negatively impact one’s capacity to perform tasks in the office or enjoy a healthy lifestyle outside of work.
The article also offers drug-free mindfulness practices that can be implemented to manage stress at work and at home. At the top: Regular physical activity and brief, mindfulness exercises during times of elevated frustration or stress.
As breathing, exercise, and mindful meditation tend to be recurring coping mechanisms in the fight against stress, it is no surprise that employers are now looking to equip employees with heart rate monitors and breathing monitors that track physical activity and fitness. These devices – which can be used to supplement well-run workplace wellness programs – track heart rates, sleep patterns, and breathing sequences of employees around the country, indicating increased heart rate during high-stress periods and suggesting brief pauses throughout the day to recalibrate.