15 May Wellbeing Wednesday
According to LinkedIn Learning’s recent Stress at Work report, 49 per cent of Australian professionals feel stressed at work. Yep, almost half. Given we spend most of our day, and much of our lives at work, it’s a given that feeling fulfilled, satisfied and happy in our working environment should be paramount. Turns out, for many of us, it’s not.
The survey commissioned by LinkedIn, was completed by 2,843 professionals, that 49% equates to a massive 1,394 individuals in the sample who feel stressed in their role. Now, let’s be straight up about this, stress isn’t always a bad thing. Times of stress can lead to incredible breakthroughs in business, can push the limits of what individuals thought they could achieve and bring a team together to smash a stretch goal.
But that’s not the stress we are talking about today.
A massive 70% of respondents stated that Workload and Work-life Balance was their biggest driver of stress, this was followed by 64% who felt equally that confidence in their job future and a sense of purpose/direction was their biggest worry. Coming in at 4th place with 63% of respondents was issues surrounding colleagues and the dreaded office politics. Finally, 62% of respondents felt access to the right tools to do their job was a major cause of stress for them.
In some way or another we’ve all likely felt each of these stressors, sometimes only one at a time, sometimes all of them hitting home, all at once.
Stress isn’t something that happens to us, it is our response to the external factors. Stress and anxiety begin in our mind as a thought or belief. When we allow this thought or belief to become a recurring happening within our mind, the brain re-trains itself to make this thought or belief our immediate go-to. It’s how we act and react in these moments of stress that determines the impact the stress will have on us.
Wellbeing and Self-care
‘Wellbeing’ and ‘Self-Care’ are terms thrown about a lot these days, but just what do they mean? And why are they important?
‘Wellbeing’ – the state of being comfortable, healthy or happy. Sounds like a pretty great state to be in, yeah?
‘Self-Care’ – any activity you undertake with the intention of reducing stress, restoring health and enhancing energy levels. Also known as the things you do to support your wellbeing.
Yes, this includes things as mundane as taking a shower and washing your hair, eating foods that support your energy requirements and general health and being physically active (it doesn’t have to be running 42 marathon’s in 42 days, think going for a 30 minute walk on your lunch break or taking 15 minutes in the morning to do some gentle stretching)
These two little buzzwords work hand-in-hand to ensure you are operating at your best and able to deal with the day to day stressors that might come your way.
So, what happens if I don’t take time for self-care and my wellbeing suffers?
All in all, it’s pretty bloody awful. Sure, you can motor along on auto-pilot for a good period of time, no one will know you are treading water like your life depends on it (because it does) and you can live that ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ mantra – sure, knock yourself out.
Except at some point, you won’t.
The constant barrage of stressors, and daily demands on you, your skills and your emotions will eventually wear you down. There is only so much a brain can take. You may notice that you start to struggle to get out of bed each morning, or that it’s been a few days since you last showered. Maybe you just feel down and like you can’t catch a break. Perhaps a few thoughts of self-harm may begin to creep in and, while you might brush them away this time, they were still there.
When you notice these thoughts and feelings it’s important to act. Not tomorrow, not when you think you’ll feel up to it.
In. That. Moment.
This isn’t something you can afford to put off.
Have a rational chat with yourself and acknowledge that these thoughts and feelings aren’t the normal you.
There are loads of things you can do in that moment, maybe start with making an appointment with your GP. They can talk to you about where your head’s at, and what might be causing the feelings of stress you are experiencing. Just having that conversation is enough for some people. They walk out with an understanding of their body’s response to stress and a plan with how to manage it. For others a little further digging may be required – your GP will help you.
- Take up some personal interests and hobbies – Local councils often run free Yoga in the park, bike riding groups and organized hikes etc. Local Libraries offer workshops around all sorts of hobbies.
- Get enough sleep – No one here is going to tell you how much sleep you need a night. Sleep is such an individual thing and putting strict parameters around it can also cause a stress response. In my world, screens are off at 8pm, I’m in bed at 9 and reading until I fall asleep (if I’m lucky I’ll realise before the book hits my face). Generally I wake at 5:30ish before my alarm goes off at 6 (juuuuust in case!!). Play around with your sleep requirements until you find what works for you and your body.
- Spend quality time on your relationships and social networks – Ohhhh yeah. Put the phone away and have a face to face conversation. Gah! The horror! Why not host a dinner party where phones are deposited in a box and kept in another room, that way you HAVE to talk to people.
- Make time just for yourself – I think most people struggle with this one. That concept of putting off something important because ha! surprise, surprise YOU are important too. If you aren’t ok within yourself you can’t be ok for anyone else. Take time for yourself every day, even if it’s just that 10 minutes over a coffee in the morning to start off with.
- See if your employer subscribes to an EAP – there may be counselling available to you, along with leave assistance to help you manage during this time.
- Start saying “No” more – set clear requirements and expectations of your team, encourage them to think and problem solve for themselves. You should be the last port of call for problems.
- Stop multi-tasking – Just focus on one thing at a time, multi-tasking is for suckers. Set the phone to voicemail, close your email window, focus on what needs to be done right now and see it through to completion or hand-off.
- Planning – for bigger projects, plan out the steps that are going to get you to completion, delegate what can be delegated and schedule the remaining steps into your calendar. Once scheduled you can rest easy knowing that you’ve got this under control. It’s mapped out and time has been allocated to it. Move on to the next thing, rinse and repeat.
- Work on your emotional intelligence (your EQ) – how you respond to pressures in the heat of the moment is a learned behavior, you can train yourself in this!
- Physical care – regular movement of your body, ensuring your workstation is ergonomically set up and not hitting the smoko van every day will have a positive impact on your wellbeing.
- Enter ‘The Third Space’ – Dr Adam Fraser speaks to this concept of The Third Space and really, it’s brilliant. I enter my Third Space on my way home from work, I have a mood-boosting playlist that I sing (loudly, and off-key to) along to on my way home. Work is left at the office door. I’m home for myself and my family.
- Meditation – yeah yeah yeah, hippie mumbo jumbo ra ra ra. Or, you could just try it and see what it’s like for a few days. Only ten minutes a day can completely change the way you see the world and your place in it.
- Go for a toddle – a quick walk around the block after lunch (or whenever you need it) is a great opportunity to burn off some pent up rage *ahem* I mean energy, take some deep breaths, take your shoes off and feel the grass between your toes, close your eyes and feel the sun on your face and the breeze winding its way through your hair. Use your senses to reconnect you to the earth and feel the frazzle leave your body.
- Accept that failure will happen – it’s ok. All you can do is learn from it.
- Turn up the tunes! – Check out our Gee-up Office Jams playlist on Spotify – Guaranteed bangers to get you in a great frame of mind!
- Desktop breathing – inhale for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds through the nose. Do this a few times, it’s quiet and no one will ever know you are taking a moment just for yourself.
- Disconnect – Walk through the door, turn the phone off for a while and spend quality time with family and friends
- Have a creative pursuit – writing, painting, ‘Ghost’ like pottery skills ;)
- Journaling – reflect on the day, what worked well, what didn’t? What would you do differently in the same situation next time? Does your role and the organization you work for reflect your values? Are your skills sufficient for your current role? Your next role? What could you do to of your own accord to improve them? Reflect on what you are grateful for. Why does it matter? Why is it important to you? How does it make you feel? Cultivate that feeling.
- Done is better than perfect. – Live this mantra.
- Move towards action – check out this great resource from Mel Robbins about the 5 Second Rule and what to do when that moment of panic hits (actually just go down the brilliant rabbit hole that is her YouTube channel, she’s logical and practical and really explains the physiological effects that are occurring in your body and how to overcome them with action)
- Be a role model for EQ within your home and workplace. Lead by example, don’t lose your cool over things you can’t control, practice your response to drivers of stress and show how friction can be resolved calmly and rationally.
If you personally need assistance with managing your wellbeing or if you are supporting someone having a rough time, these are some great resources that can help:
From today, we’ll be posting a wellbeing related post each Wednesday on our Facebook page, join us to share your tips for managing stress and maybe pick up a few ideas for yourself!