Slowing down to speed up
By Tracy Richardson, Therapist (MSc), Wellness Consultant, and Founder of Serendipity Wellness
Focussing upon ‘crushing’ your goals and ‘smashing’ targets, which whilst the end result is amazing, places huge amounts of stress upon you. In the short term this ‘hustle and grind’ mentality can assist you with meeting tight deadlines and the motivation to get things done. Though in the longer term, this can lead to unnecessary anxiety and stress.
In fact, the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) reported work-related stress and anxiety accounted for half of illness absence in 2020-21(1) . It has also been found that work related anxiety increased when the demands and time constraints increased, particularly when decision making autonomy was decreased(2) . Globally 44% of people experience stress at work(3) . So, the whole socially adopted attitude of a work harder to achieve success is clearly no longer working.
Oftentimes this can lead to forgoing your personal life, skipping meals, sacrificing your sleep, omitting self care, and living on caffeine, which all adds to the layers of stress. The anxiety comes when you are feeling overly worried about something, which can manifest as a host of physical, mental and emotional symptoms(4) . Such as:
- Feeling nervous, restless or tense
- An increased heart rate
- Increased breathing pattern
- Feeling hot or sweaty
- Physically shaking/ rambling
- Feeling fatigued or weak
- Unable to focus or concentrate.
In with the new
In 2023 there is a movement towards changing the workplace to better support employees, as 16% of workers want better wellbeing options*3) . This can certainly make things in life and business more sustainable.
Cultivating a company culture that supports employees to be their best so they can perform their best is on the up tick. Forbes reported that the number one HR trend for the workplace in 2023 is employee wellbeing being essential. With companies such as Delta airlines going as far as creating a Chief Health & Wellbeing officer position(5) . So the employee first mantra is definitely one to get on board with.
The business world moves pretty fast, so providing accessibility, creating opportunities and simplicity are key to supporting individual needs and helping maximise the mental wellness of employees, inside and outside of the workplace.
But, why bother?
Recognising that mental wellness affects not just employees, but the business as a whole means that taking the pressure off staff can actually help to take your business forwards.
As an employer, prioritising your employees includes choosing what you can do to advocate for their wellbeing. There is lots that can be done, although it’s the individual employees that need to take action, so accessibility, creating opportunities and simplicity are key to supporting their needs and well-being.
The Big How?
Promoting opportunities that enable your people to power down and recharge, creates a positive transition in positive mental and physical wellness, so they are ready to utilise this in their work life; boosting productivity, sustainability and profitability in the longer term.
Here are 5 things that can help;
- Making a quiet space in the workplace available.
- Providing an on-site lunchtime/ after work relaxation class.
- Promoting ‘green’ therapy with a lunchtime walk in the park.
- Recommending screen breaks and leaving the desk or the office at lunch.
- Using pattern interruption to the usual rush, by stopping and pausing and taking a few moments to reset.
Slowing the mind to calm the body helps create space and opportunity to be present, regulate the nervous system and provides space for decision making, creative flow and to see the calm through the chaos. Having space to take time out and breathe helps with the quality of decision making and helps to keep up with real time action in a changing economy, when fast decisions are necessary.
Recent studies indicate dopamine(6) (your reward hormone) may play a role in influencing how the brain evaluates whether a mental task is worth the effort. By recognising employees’ needs is a sure fire way to take the pressure off and motivate staff to complete tasks at work.
When you are really busy you may need to be prompted to pause and actually allocate time within your day. Sometimes scheduling this into your diary really helps with making it happen. Placing this window to unwind at the start or the end of the day as non negotiable time can work well. Colour coding it in your diary and scheduling this on repeat means that it will stand out and that you cannot overbook yourself. Setting aside time can be as simple as 5 minutes of silence or breath work, or stepping away from your desk. When you are better able to respect and protect your time with clear work boundaries you can take that much needed down time to recharge and restore your batteries. This means that once you return to work that you are firing on all cylinders. A gamechanger for improving wellness for work (and life).
What one thing can you implement today that will support your staff in slowing down and relaxing?
Tracy Richardson is a Therapist (MSc), Wellness Consultant, and Founder of Serendipity Wellness® based in Warwickshire, UK, and the author of The Little Book of Wellness: An A-Z Guide to Nourish Your Body, Mind + Soul.
Tracy is passionate about working with female founders and entrepreneurs, who find themselves knackered, stressed, overwhelmed and close to burnout, to support them with easy to action solutions that simultaneously enhance health, performance & business life.