Tag: <span>stress</span>

4 Useful Ways to Ease the Stress of Change for Women Who Lead

The mass exodus back to normal has heightened stress levels, and it’s important to acknowledge that change can be stressful. If you are someone who gets upset and loses focus when things don’t go as expected or strongly dislikes change, automatically expects the worst, and struggles to adapt, this piece is for you.

 

Do you think we are ready to return to ‘normal’? 

Well, whether we’re fully ready, we have to be prepared and adapt. In the ever-changing landscape of life and work, adaptability is a crucial skill for managers, leaders, and anyone looking to navigate change successfully. Adaptable people tend to be happier and more content as they’re not struggling against the resistance of change, and can skillfully ride the wave.

 

The Brain Behind Change

Our brain hates the unknown that comes with change, and that can show up as anxiety, which is your brain’s way of protecting you from the unfamiliar. However, that can mean saving you from a necessary or required action. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “stress is a response to a threat in a situation. Anxiety is a reaction to the stress.” The threat is that feeling of not knowing and the associated fear of what could happen in the future. Sometimes that fear is rational, and sometimes not. Sometimes it’s about something that will happen in three minutes (getting on a call to close a deal, for example) or in 30 years (having enough money to retire).

Depending on how you respond to your brain’s conceptualization of the fear can make change or transitions so difficult. It’s easy to feel powerless in these moments, but your power is in the ways you decide to navigate change.

You can decide how you want to think about the situation and what you want to do about it.

We can’t resist returning to work, going back to college, or whatever transition is on the horizon, but you always have a choice within the change. I’m not dismissing that it won’t be hard at times, but this is about being skillful so you can continue to live, lead, and enjoy life.

Let’s jump to 4 quick tips to navigate change and ease the fear of transition:

  1. Notice when an interaction or the thought of a situation upsets you and examine why. Acknowledge out loud any unhelpful thoughts going through your mind, then take those thoughts and challenge their accuracy to determine whether they represent reality. Perhaps you can then find another way to think about them that allows you to move forward.
    How you think or what you are ruminating over is often connected to the experience of procrastination, perfectionism, overwhelm, or feeling unmotivated. Learn to challenge and change the thoughts behind those responses.
  1. Successful leaders often react to anxiety by working harder, holding themselves and others to impossibly high standards, only to cause further stress or burnout in themselves and others. Examine your use of time and what you are asking of others. Putting in place a support infrastructure that includes breaks for you and your team and time to discuss expectations openly.

 

  1. Find a practice that eases your stress. Sometimes our minds operate like a runaway train. If you can quiet your mind for just a moment, you may notice there is always a fork in the road. One road allows your anxious thoughts to derail you, and the other will enable you to inject more positive thoughts and intentional actions.This can look like daily mindfulness practices, laughing, or sometimes more high-intensity activities like running or a good cardio workout. These practices short circuits the stress response by getting you out of your head, incorporating your body, and allowing the experience of stress, anxiety, and worry to subside.
  2. Don’t stay on your island; build connections. You are an expert at what you do, and getting things done is your superpower. However, we all will face the challenge of transitions and change that can make you feel alone or cause you to isolate and withdraw. Do the opposite. Instead, try coming out of your office and chatting with a colleague, or reach out via text, call a friend or  maybe even perform a quick act of kindness. Be open to also ask for help or outsource tasks to create more time and space for wellbeing.

 

In this time of crisis and change, where many are experiencing anxiety for the first time, it is an opportunity to develop our ability to adapt and contribute to a culture the prioritizes the importance of emotional wellbeing.

 

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R is a passionate advocate for positive workplace culture, supporting the ambitious mindsets of women, and improving mental health in all settings. The goal is to simply get you out of your head, so you can stress less, and focus on your success.

Make sure to register for “Catch your Breath” a free live mindful practice series for Minority Women Who Lead running through the end of July 2021. #minoritymentalhealthmonth #strongcommunities

 

Why Mental Health Plays a Role in the Success of Your Business

Mental Health is a workplace issue

Mental illnesses from a macro viewpoint are associated with higher rates of disability, absenteeism, and unemployment. Emotional experiences like depression and anxiety often interfere with a person’s ability to focus and complete tasks and have even been reported to reduce cognitive performance about 35% of the time. While the impact may not rise to the level of a clinical diagnosis for most workers, they are still susceptible to stress and burnout, seriously affecting their ability to contribute meaningfully in their personal and professional lives.

 

Data from several countries worldwide indicate that mental health problems are behind a considerable number of employees dropping out of work, particularly as we navigate returning to work post-pandemic. It’s the elephant in the room that can no longer be avoided, with Covid-19 having a lasting impact on the workforce. It was hard before, it’s a crisis now, and we are at a juncture that requires us individually and collectively to shift our work culture and prioritize mental health. 

Mental health was a massive issue in the workplace before the pandemic. It was hard before, and it’s a crisis now. 

 

Workplace Well-being

Mental health is something we all possess. When it is good, we have a sense of purpose and direction and feel that we can cope with whatever life (and work) throws at us. But just as our physical health fluctuates, so too our mental health. This is even true for solopreneurs or entrepreneurs, with one study out of the University of California finding that out 49% of entrepreneurs surveyed had at least one mental illness, and about one-third struggled with two or more conditions like depression and anxiety.   

Emotional challenges at work can contribute to: 

  •   Decreased productivity and performance
  •   Reduced engagement with one’s work
  •   Decreased physical capability 
  •   Poor communication with coworkers
  •   Increase in employer mental health spending with behavioral health claims responsible for a 20% increase in that area.

At any one time, at least one in six workers are experiencing common mental health problems (some studies have it as one in five), and it’s no surprise that these adults are tasked with dealing with their mental health in the workplace. Depression contributes to about 400 million lost workdays annually. Poor mental health costs US employers up to $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year, and within the UK, mental health problems in the workplace cost the economy approximately £70 billion annually. 

Good mental health enables not just the individual to thrive but the business. The WHO has estimated that for every $1 invested into the treatment and support of mental health disorders, business see a return of $4 in improved health and productivity.

 

Tips for Managers, Leaders & Colleagues

Some common signs that can surface in colleagues who are struggling with their emotional well-being:

 

1. They exhibit (or often talk about) physical symptoms, such as tiredness related to disrupted sleep or persistent headaches. 

2. Withdrawal from the team, more isolative.

3. Loss of interest in work, sadness, or constant worry

4. Noticeable irritability or conversely complacent 

5. Reference to increased alcohol consumption

6. Procrastination, indecisiveness, slowed productivity (missing deadlines and deliverables).

7. Absence may increase, or alternatively, they start to work much longer hours, starting early or staying late.

 

Employers are uniquely positioned to encourage employees to get help if they are experiencing issues with their mental health. Not only that, most workers want their employers to champion mental health and well-being in the workplace.

 

Employee/Self Care is Key to A Thriving Workplace 

Five small changes that can be made with little effort and improve employee well-being: 

1. Flexible hours. Discuss with your staff a reasonable plan to reduce their stress while navigating return post-pandemic. One size does not fit all.  

2. Enforce working hours. This can be done by limiting out-of-hours work and encouraging reduced email access outside of office hours

3. Increase supervision and team support: If possible, avoid employees working in a solely isolated way. If they are working from home extensively, make sure there are regular check-ins not just on work but also on challenges that impact the work.  

4. Share resources: Provide support services, share available resources like EAP information, child care options, and how to access staff members or consultants who have training in mental health and workplace stress. Make sure support is widely and regularly communicated. 

5. Promote self-care breaks: That may include reminders to eat healthy, group walks, or quiet time at the end of meetings. 

 

Other ways companies are investing in corporate wellness:

1. Changing company cultures – Get intentional about creating a culture of understanding and openness around mental health. This can mean HR programs taking steps to prevent burnout and build employee resiliency. It could also mean supervisors being mindful of and allowing employees to speak openly about mental health challenges or even implementing mandatory self-care time. Some companies have even implemented paid or unpaid mental health days from work, and staff is encouraged to utilize it before they feel overwhelmed or emotionally unwell. 

 

2. Incorporate a Wellness Menu – If wellness is not a regular part of the culture, invest in it. Progressive agencies are mandating self-care, and a part of that is providing options for staff to pick from during the workweek, such as the 30 mindful mornings or wellness workshops I recently facilitated at a Law Firm in NY. Other options include training on topics such as overthinking and productivity, stress and the body, or trauma-informed care. 

When the agency prioritizes care, it sends a message to the employee that your wellness matters, and that is often reciprocated back with increased productivity and a reduction in turnover. 

 

It will take all of us to help alleviate the impact of COVID-19 related stress and the emotional impact it continues to have on ourselves, colleagues, and communities. Our Mental Health Consultant Team can support you in your journey to promote workplace well-being and raise mental health awareness in the workplace or to personally develop yourselfGet in touch to find out more.

You can find additional resources from The American Psychiatric Association (APA)  here or when emotions are significantly impacting functioning refer colleagues to therapy here: Psychologytoday.com, Cliniciansofcolor.com, Therapyforblackmen.org, and Openpathcollective.com.

 

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R, Psychotherapist and Corporate Mental Health Consultant

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