On Wednesday 27th March PAI will host a Breakfast Briefing- Your Workplace Environment - A Sustainable Approach to Corporate Wellbeing. We are delighted that our panel of expert speakers have shared articles on the subjects they will discuss at the event.
The Resilience and Wellbeing Springboard; a Guide to Managing Stress
I’m always a bit sceptical about quoting statistics and some time ago I came across a very clever comment online that ‘coined’ my thinking. It cited that “64 per cent of statistics are made up”. I often share this with my workshop groups and it never fails to put a grin on their faces. One statistic however that I do think we need to take seriously as I believe it to be very close to reality is this:
50% of the reasons why people go to the doctor are stress related.
Stress can manifest itself in many different ways. Anything from the common cold to chronic pain, not to mention heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many more illnesses can so often be linked to stress in some form or another. The bad news is that there is now concrete evidence that workplace stress is increasing. Stress when not managed and controlled can be linked to anxiety, depression and eventual burn out. The impact of all of this on the workplace results in unnecessary pressure, hostility, conflict, presentism, poor performance and absenteeism to name just a few.
So what can we do? First of all the good news is that this research is not being ignored and there is already a lot been done. Many organisations are very aware of the impact of stress and are actively providing support and introducing initiatives to combat these issues. Workplace health information is now widely available to all employees both through internal procedures and the internet.
Whereas this is very positive and reassuring, having spent most of my career in a pressurised financial corporate environment I believe that stress has to be addressed at the source. By this I mean the management of stress, the control of stress and an effort to combat stress has got to start with the individual themselves. This means taking responsibility, gaining some knowledge, understanding implications and culturing a shift in mind-set. Employees need to become aware of the choices available to them.
The first thing to recognise is that not all stress is bad. Stress is a necessary emotion. Our brains are hardwired in such a way that it is difficult for us to take action until we experience some level of stress. Stress can motivate us and take us out of our comfort zone. In doing so we can create new pathways in our thinking and new patterns in our behaviour thus creating a more positive environment. On the other end of the scale bad stress even mild bad stress, if left to fester can wreak havoc on our health and wellbeing over time.
Combating stress I believe ultimately comes down to two things:
1) Challenging our perception of stress and
2) Our level of resilience.
We create and cultivate our own stressors and it is only until we become aware of our negative responses are we able to change them and take back control. Learning about our survival technique and what negative stress can physiologically do to our body is the first step required to encourage us to learn how to choose a different response and create new pathways and habits. We have a choice.
Building resilience is a day in day out activity that needs to become a habit. It involves actions and activities that will strengthen the mind the body and the soul. If we make these behaviours part of our everyday we will in time strengthen our protection mechanism, create a more positive outlook, maintain equilibrium and bounce back when challenged with adversity. If we all take some responsibility in making this happen a kinder, more respectful, empathetic workplace will ensue. But this wellness will not just be contained to the workplace it will spill over into our personal lives, our relationships and our overall sense of happiness and wellbeing. It also will hopefully reduce the number of visits to the GP giving everyone more time to live life to the full.
Liz Kearney will speak at PAI's Corporate Wellbeing Breakfast Briefing, for more information on this event, click here
Liz Kearney is a professional trainer and a qualified business coach specialising in well-being in the workplace. She has worked with many Corporates, The Public Sector and SME’s delivering programmes on Stress, Wellbeing and Resilience and has been an associate trainer with Aware for the last 5 years. She is a Qualified Financial Adviser, an accredited DiSC psychometric practitioner and holds a diploma in Psychology, CBT and Emotional Intelligence.