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Personal Finance

Ways to lower stress at the workplace

Empower yourself like a soldier, do not worry.
Empower yourself like a soldier, do not worry. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Ever put in a long hard day at the office? You felt good because you accomplished several critical pending tasks that were vital in your firm's action plan. But while working on the critical tasks, you came across a few organisational issues that will need to get addressed in the coming fiscal quarter.

As you arrive home from the office that night after fighting the fierce Nairobi commute, you slump down into your seat at the dining table. After hurriedly devouring your dinner, you trudge to your bedroom since you must attend an early 6:30 meeting the following morning.

Unfortunately, as you lay there in your bed trying to find the precious sleep that eludes you, your mind races vividly. You recount the successes of the day in the difficult tasks completion. Then you also repeatedly keep pondering the organisational issues you uncovered. You wonder if anyone else knows that there will not be enough budget to implement the full strategic plan effectively. Does the CEO know? Does the Board have any idea? How will you break the news to your department manager? Your mind circles and circles ever deeper into negativity.

By 2:00am you start to panic because you have not slept and desperately need it to push you through the coming day. So, the lack of sleep adds to your stress and negativity. By the time morning reaches and you head off to your office, you only found about an hour of sleep, which is far below the recommended minimum of seven.

Many Kenyans suffer from insomnia because what is often colloquially termed "overactive brain". Insomnia robs us of adequate sleep in order to function properly and recharge. Much sleep deprivation derives from our work environments.

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Issues from our employment and businesses can infect our home life with the ever so unpleasant of mental challenges: worry. Our minds obsessing instead of seeing the positive and negative effects of a bigger picture, worry makes us disproportionately focus on negative things that in turn makes us more negative.

Worry interferes with our sleep, stresses us in the office, and makes us less grateful and kind to our families. Psychologists show that obsessing on negative thoughts increases anxiety, increases depression tendencies, makes us stuck, and less able to make decisions.

Psychologist and author Melanie Greenberg suggests that the best way to combat negative mental cycles is to instead focus on problem solving. Come up with multiple alternative solutions to one's worries.

Scared of a job loss? Dissect your professional contacts and figure out who to network with for a new job. Preemptively update your CV and LinkedIn profile. Start applying for other positions.

Talk with family about starting a business. Come up with many actions you can take that will give you more flexibility and protection against the worst aspect of your worry. Then create a sort of personal board of directors for your life. Gather a few family members, friends, and professional acquaintances either at the same time or individually, get their advice about your different backup action steps.

Armed with planning and the feedback from trusted sources, move. Empower yourself like a soldier, do not worry.

These steps will reduce your stress, improve your sleep, and enhance your overall health along with improved life and job satisfaction.

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