Key Take Aways:
- Regular exercise is a very effective stress reducer.
- Mindfulness is also good for stress relief and can be done anywhere.
A survey of 6,000 workers conducted by the NeuroLeadership Institute found just about ten percent of them said they think best at work. (Source: Forbes) Why would that be? Part of the answer is stress. Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile said a survey she conducted found professionals were 45% less likely to generate a novel idea or solve a problem, when facing a great degree of time pressure.
Not all stress is bad though, and most people probably look forward to some degree of challenge or risk that carries an acceptable stress load. The key seems to be for individuals to be able to identify their own stress levels and whether they are healthy or unhealthy. Additionally, managers need to understand their employees well enough to know how they are functioning and what their stress levels are, so they can help them if necessary. Chronic stress has been linked to depression, and this mental health problem is clearly detrimental to performance and creativity.
Stress also might be an indication of larger issues in the workplace such as workers being overtaxed and under-supported, personal issues impacting an employee or an imbalance in the work-life area. Bullying in the workplace also might be taking place.
One of the best ways to reduce job stress is regular exercise. (Physical movement is also a natural anti-depressant.) Another stress reliever is the practice of mindfulness, which is simply putting one’s attention on anything and keeping it there for the purpose of focusing. Then you merely keep paying attention and observe what arises. This practice can be done at any time and it tends to take us out of the stressed mental state we are in, and allow some detachment.
Believe it or not, simply taking a walk might be be good for creativity because it gets the whole body involved, and decreases stress. Also research has shown people who allowed themselves to walk in a meandering, unstructured way experienced more creativity afterwards.
Companies that provide onsite yoga, meditation and creative time may have the advantage in reducing employee stress, and therefore in boosting productivity.
Image Credit: Andrew Dunn, Wiki Commons