What is the clear winner to reduce workplace stress?
Unsurprisingly, some of the biggest stresses that most of the population feel are work-related. Yet, researchers believe they’ve found one clear winner to cut workplace stress: cycling.
Researchers from Concordia University, Canada, found that those who commute by bike feel less stressed, compared with those who travel to their jobs by other means.
In fact, those that commute on two wheels find the first 45 minutes of their shift less stressful than colleagues who travel in by car, bus or train.
The knock-on effect is that these workers are then more productive throughout the rest of the day.
The lead author of the study, Dr Stéphane Brutus explained how workers’ mood in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day.
He said: “Recent research has shown that early morning stress and mood are strong predictors of their effect later in the day. They can shape how subsequent events are perceived, interpreted and acted upon for the rest of the day.”
However, only seven per cent of British adults regularly cycle to work with just four per cent doing it every day.
This means that many workers are missing out on the health benefits available to those who cycle in their office: with lower rates of cancer and heart disease amongst them.
However, there are other ways to cut workplace stress and feel the subsequent health benefits available to those with lower levels of stress.
Life Meets Work found that stressful leaders, or stress caused by leaders, causes impacts that can be felt throughout the entire organisation.
Kenneth Matos, Psychologist and Vice President of Research for Life Meets Work explained how good line-managers are ones that can manage stress from higher-up and help stressed out employees.
He said: “Companies often focus on fixing individual employees to help them be less stressed and therefore more engaged. Yet, our study found that employee engagement was better predicted by the leader’s ability to manage stress than the employee’s current stress level.”
Stop saying the word ‘stress’
A recent workplace survey by Lee Hecht Harrison | Penna found that almost a fifth of UK employees feel significant stress on a daily basis.
However, Seth Swirsky, Clinical Psychotherapist, explained to Wellandgood.com explained that much of this stress is exacerbated by our reaction to it.
Swirsky said: “Just saying that you’re stressed can set off a cascade of chemicals in the body – epinephrine and cortisol – and neurotransmitters in the brain that make us feel, well, completely stressed out.
What we need to do is stop saying we’re stressed.
Take time to unwind
In a culture in which we’re always on, it’s important to make sure we give ourselves time to unwind. This includes setting a cap on working hours, switching off emails and setting aside time to relax.
Earlier this year, online HR magazine, HR Grapevine, spoke to Dr Christian Jessen about the dangers of being ‘always on’.
He said: “We always feel like we should be doing something – we feel guilty about sitting and watching television; we feel guilty about reading a book for an hour; we think that we need to be emptying the dishwasher or putting another wash on.
“But, we need to get over that guilt if we want to fully encompass all arms of our health. Eastern medicine has been doing this for a long time, whilst in the West, we’ve been ignoring it – and look who is suffering more.”
You can see the HR Grapevine article in full here.