Occupational stress can be derived from an emotional and physical toxic environment including verbal abuse, sexual harassment, power struggles with co-workers and superiors, sitting at a desk too long, poor lighting, or poor air quality. The impact is detrimental to an employer's bottom line, augmenting health costs, damaging morale and lowering performance and productivity. The World Health Organization estimates that stress causes American businesses $300 billion dollars a year. Sleep deprivation, anxiety, hypertension, depression, headaches, ulcers and other physical complaints are some of the results. Unaddressed traumatic incidences of on-the-job bullying by a coworker, boss, or client with physical threats increases the chances of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and workers' compensation claims.
It is the employer's responsibility to help prevent and relieve stress in the workplace. Besides creating realistic deadlines, scheduling flexible work hours, offering childcare services and offering appreciation and incentives for jobs well done, implementing wellness or spa days can have short term and long term effects in teamwork, increased productivity and overall happiness in the workplace. Providing stress management classes for employees is also beneficial. Technology companies understand the importance of avoiding "burnout" and high turnover. Google offers a class called, "SIY," Search Inside Yourself, utilizing mindfulness at work. covering attention training, self-knowledge and self-mastery, and the creation of useful mental habits. It has been reported that more than 1,000 Google employees have taken the class, and there’s a waiting list when it’s offered, four times a year. Employees who take the class see significant changes in their work behavior. Companies like IBM Corp., Medtronic Inc., Surface Logic Inc., and Shuster Laboratories Inc offer in-office meditation programs for stress reduction.
Mindful Ways to Relieve Stress in the Workplace:
- Practicing meditation for relaxation;
- Replace bad habits such as smoking and low self-esteem with good ones and reprogram beliefs for peak performance through self-hypnosis;
- Practice positive self-talk and verbal communication;
- Keep conversations germane;
- Listen to high frequency music such as Mozart, classical or Steven Halpern, new age while working;
- Doodling and automatic writing to release tension;
- Creating vision boards to accomplish goals;
- Practice deep breathing exercises;
- Hang original pieces of art to balance energy;
- Decorate your office with green plants.