Treating Workplace Stress

Glenis Wade

Treating Worker Stress, Physical Health and Professional Performance Problems
Being stressed in your professional life not only puts you in a foul mood for the day, stress can lead to poor health, underperformance and low productivity. We especially know that our work life reputations can take a downward spiral whenever our professional performance diminishes.
In the corporate world there are a wide range of services to prevent worker stress and promote employee wellbeing. HR and Organisation Development departments aim to quickly respond to insights from the latest research linking worker stress and ill health to business discontinuity, financial losses and low employee engagement. There is now also a strong drive to carryout initiatives for corporate responsibility and looking after a company’s people helps to satisfy that. The tactics that large companies use to support employee health and wellbeing does vary. And I see many different solutions to combat worker stress from my particular vantage. Below is a list of a few. 

How Successful Businesses Treat/ Prevent Workplace Stress
 From a telephone assistance service (direct dial up a listening counsellor) to providing designated chill out and lets chat zones 
 From cycling loan schemes to installing standing walking computer desks
- From non smoking policies and signs to external smoking shelters to giving time off to attend STOP programs
- From training in stress reducing management styles to coaching mindful management techniques in all leadership styles
-  From doing a one off wellbeing audit to going for excellence accreditations
- From drug and alcohol misuse policies and testing to giving workers time off to get support and heal
- From communicating positive attitudes about mental ill health to integrating a prevent program systematically and Mental First Aid training
- From dealing with a conflict situation to building a culture of collaboration and support
 From allocating a wellbeing champion to integrating a wellness (happy helpful) culture 
From the annual off site leadership retreat to contracting massage therapy teams for regular onsite appointment
      1.  From gym membership discounts to holding weekly on site yoga/ Pilates classes
      2.  From chilled water coolers to high fruit and vegetables menus in the canteen
What are the symptoms of work related stress?
You know you are suffering from work related stress as there are physical signs that arise in the body. Here are some of the workplace stress related conditions that you might notice, according to the Health and Safety Executive. These are divided into systems of the body.

Signs of Professional Stress
In the department of Calm I see a wide range of individuals that don’t have the kind of workplace wellbeing support that their peers working in organisations might have (see list above). Many clients include independent freelancers, nascent and serial entrepreneurs, people starting up businesses, mid career changers as well as senior executives of smaller firms and lone business owners.
The professional impact of stress or business related anxiety is often noticeable in the quality of work being done and I know I don’t need to remind you of the reputational ramifications. It is widely reported that the business symptoms of a person’s low resilience is increased procrastination, avoidance of important activities, poor time management an inability to prioritise. Biased thinking can also lead to erroneous business judgments being made.
 I also find it important to acknowledge to clients that specific activities within their business or profession can be stressful. The most common stressor I’ve noted that people have is reaching out to “the others”. Whether that is asking for help or asking for new business (cold calling/ sales talks or networking).  Many of the central themes we work on in the Department of Calm is helping individuals find workable ways of connecting or reconnecting with a challenging business relationships or vital professional activity they hate doing or just can not get to grips with. Below are five top tips that tend to help clients to build their resilience while we work on relaxation therapies and carrying out practical exercises to overcome professional barriers.
Six Practical Tips!
How to build entrepreneurial resilience and ease the strains of being a mumpreneur, sole trader or new business owner

1.  Practice mindfulness in your everyday work and you will be doing mindful management. It is especially good for helping you to listen more attentively to your employees.  You might want to go on a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course. It will help you to cultivate your practice of being mindful everyday.
2.  Do seated meditations at your desk. You can start from a practice of 3 minutes and build up to 10, 15, 20 or even 30 mins meditation during your lunch break. Use the timers available such as The Anamaya App as it has both timer and reminder functions. You’ll be able to set up daily reminders to create that sacred space so you can easily rest and recover at work. Here is a link to some of the research looking at the value of regular seated meditations at work using various timings by Manocha, Black et al (2011) and Melville, Chang et al (2012).
3.  Regularly talk to a colleague who you hold in high regard about difficult tasks you face. The number of times you talk to someone about your stressful tasks per day the more the talking meaningfully strengthens your immune system, reduces your blood pressure and heart rate. Here is a link to Heaphy and Dutton’s  (2006-2008)  research about the physiology of positive workplace relationships . Here is another on building High Quality Connections
4.  Engage in a program of therapies to suit you if you realise your professional anxieties have roots quite early in your past. These will help you to start quashing your unhelpful thinking biases. Researchers in business show how cognitive biases can cause people to fail in their business and enterprising endeavours.
 5 Book in for regular massage/ facial therapy sessions as research is increasingly showing us the positive effects from     massage. Scientists have seen that special receptors in the skin are triggered to stimulate the feel good hormones in the brain when strokes like massage are performed. Here is the link to one Professor explaining his work via You Tube video .     One of the relevant research papers by Lloyd, McGlone et al (2015) is HERE. Other research I conducted with colleagues at London College of Fashion see (Mair, Wade et al 2015 HERE) discovered how facial cosmetics and treatments are used by people for wellbeing in the same why that McGlone refers to self grooming rituals too.
6.   Switch off with a regular hobby or art form that is expressive of who you are and lets your personality, values and beliefs shine 
The six tips I’ve provided are generated form my involvement in university teaching and research. It is the combination of increasing evidence in these areas that frames the way that I assist clients I meet. Thank you for reading this far and I look forward to seeing you in the Department of Calm one day.

Research Studies

Heaphy, Emily and Dutton, Jane E.,  (2006) “Positive Social Interactions and the Human Body at Work: Linking Organizations and Physiology” (October 2006). Ross School of Business Paper No. 1056; Academy of Management Review, September 2006.

Lloyd, D. M., McGlone, F. P. and Yosipovitch, G. (2015), “Somatosensory pleasure circuit: from skin to brain and back” in Experimental Dermatology, 24: 321–324.

Mair, C.; Glenis Wade and Danka Tamburic.  (2015) “Older Women Want to Look Good Despite Media Pressure to Look Young” in The International Journal of Aging and Society Vol 5 :1

Manocha R., D. Black, J. Sarris, and C. Stough, (2011) “A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Meditation for Work Stress, Anxiety and Depressed Mood in Full-Time Workers,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2011,

Melville Geoffrey W., Dennis Chang, Ben Colagiuri, Paul W. Marshall, and Birinder S. Cheema, (2012) “Fifteen Minutes of Chair-Based Yoga Postures or Guided Meditation Performed in the Office Can Elicit a Relaxation Response,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012,

More Resources
Read: The Mindful Workplace Book by Michael Chaskalson
Watch: Your tube video- Mindfulness & Leadership in Business: Mark Bertolini, Soren Gordhamer on You Tube from Wisdom 2.0 conference
Watch You tube video- Mindfulness & Entrepreneurship: Peter Read

Contact details:-
Anamaya Phone Number: 0203 011 0355 
Glenis Phone Number: 0771 917 8836


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