Managing stress in the workplace is exceedingly important. Stress can be contagious and one irate, sleep-deprived employee can lead to many when the conditions are right.
As HR professionals and department managers, it is as important as ever to provide opportunities for employees to de-stress. This can look a number of ways.
Don’t underestimate the importance and power of sleep
Make sure to educate employees about the importance of sleep. Healthy adults generally require between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Individual needs can vary quite a bit, however, depending on genetics, age, stress levels, physical health, and sleep quality.
Doctors and experts suggest improving “sleep hygiene”—the habits and practices that are necessary for restful sleep. These improved habits can look like:
- Limiting the time spent in bed to sleep and sex
- Ditching devices (phones, TVs, iPads) at least one hour before bedtime
- Limiting daytime naps that exceed 30 minutes
- Daily exercise
Because sleep cycles run in 90-minute segments, it can also help restfulness and alertness if your bedtime is planned in conjunction with these 90-minute segments. Calculate your optimal sleep schedule to maximize sleep.
Provide opportunities for mindful, meditative moments
Mindfulness and meditation promote living in the present, and Ami Patel, a teacher of meditation, believes that meditation and mindfulness promote inner peace. Inner peace allows us to come to conflict situations with fresh eyes and empathy for others, making it an important skill for all working adults.
During meditation, chemical changes occur in the body that combat the effects of aging. and Some believe that just 20 minutes of meditation can provide effects similar to those of restful sleep. When practiced on a daily basis, meditation can be transformative, reducing or even eliminating both physical and mental/emotional manifestations of stress.
Smartphones can be an excellent place to find a a crash course in guided meditation, and many apps are free. Consider scheduling a workshop on meditation and mindfulness practices to jumpstart employees’ use of this exceptionally useful skill.
Handling stress more productively and avoiding the exhausting paths of worry and anxiety is one sure-fire way to maintain composure and reduce stress in the workplace.
Encourage daily exercise
Many workplaces are now offering wellness programs. This benefits companies and their employees in a multitude of ways. At the organization level, healthy employees mean less medical absences and reduced medical premiums. At the employee level, competitive wellness programs means healthier employees who come to work fueled with more energy as well as playful camaraderie.
Exercise has many long-term health benefits, including maintaining a healthy weight. Exercise also combats the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, and simultaneously releases endorphins that help improve mood and mindset. Even a quick walk around the office is enough to immediately clear and relax the mind. Taking a walk for stress release is an excellent alternative to a smoke break or a drink.
Offer a “quick fix”
During exceptionally chaotic times, stress reduction may not be easily achieved by increasing sleep, meditation, or daily exercise. We all experience this kind of chaos occasionally. In these cases, consider offering certain “perks” like free pots of coffee or energy drinks in the office. Used in moderation, coffee and the nutrients present in many energy drinks can provide helpful benefits that increase energy and focus. This is not to be provided as the sole option by any means, but offering free coffee or Red Bull can be a huge perk that employees truly appreciate during the busy season.
The bottom line
By prioritizing your employees’ mental, emotional, and physical wellness, you can help employees reduce stress by encouraging them to improve their sleep habits, attempt meditation and mindfulness, and increase their daily exercise. And, when desperate times call for desperate measures, offering free treats like coffee or energy drinks can help give tired employees a boost when they need it most. According to GrowYourStaff, employees are less concerned about the fate of their own jobs and more concerned about how corporate change will affect their colleagues and the organization as a whole.