Here, in this article, we take a closer look at the uncomfortable, but increasingly relevant subject of stress, reflect on the deeper issues facing us in the modern workplace for society, and propose a common sense approach to the perennial question of, “How much or how little I should be doing to achieve a sensible and sustainable balance between commitments and enjoying life?”. Finally, we hope that making a few easy adjustments on your part will help put a new spring in your step to make impressive strides towards a new you and healthier workplace in the warmer months ahead and beyond 2017.
The good news is that depending on how you look at it, and how you define your relationship with work, stress doesn’t have to weight you down. Gaining the edge over stress can be as simple as just slowing down a bit, and eliminating too many distractions going on around you. Health experts agree, we need to live more in the moment. Taking some extra time for reflecting over a task while working, makes it easier to focus on mastering the fundamentals of new challenges, and brings the rare feel-good factor of job satisfaction back into our working relationships, when we eliminate too many distractions that can cloud and stress our thoughts and slow our thinking. Feeling uptight and overwhelmed, with a long mental to-do list can cause procrastination and more stress, so even something as simple as getting started and buckling down to one thing is key. Motivation follows action, and that leads on to more relevant and effective prioritization and planning, which helps you feel you are more in control, and getting your life back in order, without also having to juggle less important worries around in your mind that vie for your attention. This will, in turn, cement where you want to be in the future, and what you want to achieve in your career or personal life. People with better ‘time management’ skills learn how to become better at reducing the number of urgent and important tasks that can be stressful, according to Emma Donaldson-Feilder, a chartered occupational psychologist. She also recommends not skipping breaks that can re-motivate you. “You’ll come back to your desk re-energised, with a new set of eyes and renewed focus.”
Another top tip is to have a good support network of colleagues, friends and family. “Talking things through with a friend will also help you find solutions to your problems,” says Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational health expert at the University of Lancaster. Setting new challenges, such as taking on a bold, new D.I.Y. project or sport can bring out long-hidden talents, develop character, and build confidence and resilience, and means you are less likely to fall afoul of harmful and habit-forming ‘avoidance behaviour’ like smoking and drinking. Quoting Professor Cooper, “It arms you with knowledge and makes you want to do things rather than be passive, such as watching TV all the time.” Volunteering and charity work can both hone new skills and put your problems into perspective. Gaining new personal skills and individual growth means avoiding the tendency to overwork or do excessive long hours, direct causes of workplace illness. And will enable you to attain the right work-life balance that is tailored for you.
According to author of iBrain: Surviving The Technological Alteration of the Human Mind, Dr Gary Small, increasing levels of distraction offered by wireless gadgets and the internet are leading us toward a state of continuous partial attention that stresses our brains. During prolonged bouts of stress, an excess of cortisol from the adrenal glands can lead to memory impairment and reduce cognitive function when blood glucose is diverted from the hippocampus area of the brain to muscles as part of the fight or flight response. The modern trend for information overload can have even more profound effects, says Small, “The easy access to information and open lines of communication are great benefits,” he says. “But if that crowds out contemplative, solitary thought, then we lose what makes us distinctive as individuals and our entire culture reshapes itself to become more utilitarian and focused on efficiency.” Not great news if we want to be happy and have varied, productive and interesting future careers.
The best variety, it seems, incorporates engagement in healthy activities, that allow focus on acquiring new life-affirming skills by pushing new boundaries, hopefully, in new stimulating and social ways, which translate in better performance in the workplace and out. Physical fitness and maintaining one’s health also plays part in building a robust lifestyle template with which we can cope with the physiological as well as emotional demands of stress.
Massage, and other alternative medicine techniques, involve enhancing the interconnections and interplay between the ‘physical’ body (via mechanical intervention methods, such as pressure and movement by soft tissue manipulation) and the ‘neuroendocrine’ system (or energy body), that controls our response to stressful situations and regulates cell maintenance, other body functions and repair. These distinct facets of our being, both, react adversely, and break down with excessive and unnatural stresses, becoming out of balance and disconnected from one another. Bringing these two elements back into harmony and alignment promotes positive biochemical and immunological changes, that reduces stress and anxiety, improves mood, enhances blood flow and waste removal, assists in muscle repair and recovery in athletes and boosts immunity, and, most important of all, promotes overall good health and a positive outlook on life. If improving your quality of life is your objective, and too much tech is leaving you limp, lazy and a bit on-edge, then a ‘health reboot’ away from the modern rigmarole of all things ‘bells and whistles’ may be all you need to start feeling more together, dynamic, and being the force that brings balance to your own life and others around you. But you are not alone, The Ten Minute Massage Company is here to aid you achieve those goals for a calmer tomorrow.