So many problems HR is facing right now come down to a pervasive and ever-present problem: burnout.
Employee stress is at an all-time high, according to Gallup’s 2022 State of the Global Workplace Report. Employees are stressed, overworked and overwhelmed, and employers are misaligned with what workers really want. So workers keep their heads down, disengage and let the stress pile up until it turns into quiet quitting or more severe burnout.
As much as you can provide employees with resources such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and wellness tools, sometimes employees just need a moment to de-stress and breathe to take on the rest of their day without that employee stress piling up.
Encourage your employees to use de-stress tactics throughout their day to help their well-being and productivity. Here are three simple tricks any stressed employee can do at their desk that are scientifically proven to help them calm down.
With 6.8 million adults struggling with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, employee stress can exacerbate and heighten the anxiety many workers are living with every day. For employees who are already prone to anxiety – or those who are in especially high-stress positions, such as management positions – sometimes stressful moments can be intense and unnerving.
If you notice an employee struggling with a particularly distressing emotion or intense stress, you may want to encourage them to utilize cold temperatures to help bring them out of their emotions and back to the present moment.
Although this trick is commonly used for panic attacks, it can be used by anyone to help them in moments of anxiety or panic. Employees can utilize temperature as a stress management technique in many ways, such as:
- Splashing cold water on their face
- Putting ice cubes in a Ziplock back and holding it against certain areas on the body, such as the back of the neck or the wrist, or
- Stepping outside in cold weather for a short period of time.
Why it works: Like the shock, your body gets when jumping into a cold pool, using ice can help your body “reset” from points of intense emotion and force you to stay grounded in the present moment. Utilizing ice is a step back from a full “dive effect” – where you dunk your head in a bowl of ice water or take a cold shower – which can help slow your heart rate and divert blood from nonessential to essential organs, physically forcing your body to calm down.
There’s a reason why movement and exercise is such a core part of any wellness journey. Aside from its physical benefits, any type of physical activity can help keep your mental health on the right track, too. Even small amounts of activity – such as a 10-minute walk – can help improve anxiety symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic, making it a good tool to manage employee stress.
Aside from suggesting employees get regular exercise, if employee stress is especially high, it may be a good time for an in-office employee to go on a short walk or a remote employee to do a home workout on their lunch break to reduce stress and alleviate anxiety.
Why it works: Exercise or mindful movement can help distract employees from daily stressors and give them an outlet to release pent-up emotions. But beyond that, it helps your body destress by releasing those feel-good chemicals, also known as endorphins. It may also help mitigate employee stress because it reduces stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.
Ever been told to “just take a deep breath” when you’re stressed out? Although one deep breath may not solve all your problems, there is some scientific truth behind deep breathing.
There are many different tricks and tips for deep breathing to manage employee stress, such as:
Breathing is an especially valuable employee stress management technique because it can be done anywhere, by anyone, at any time. It may be a good idea to provide employees with a resource with different types of deep breathing skills to have on hand.
Why it works: Deep breathing has been shown to reduce the concentration of stress hormones in your blood. It activates your parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for rest-and-digest functions, to help bring your body back to a state of calm and equilibrium.