Kalm it Kermit! How to reduce stress in the workplace
I am slow to wake up this morning. I had tried to get back off to sleep, back to the dream I was having with Kermit the Frog and The Muppets. It is odd, what we dream about! The clock says it is five in the morning. I had not slept particularly well and wondered whether the stress of the day before might have been the cause.
I am now glaring at a computer screen wondering what to write for the blog. Also I am wondering, why am I sat at a computer at this time in the morning!
I find that whilst we have all the conveniences in the world to make our life ‘easier’, it seems life has become ever more complicated and stressful in today’s world. I often wonder whether being so connected today (to the internet), if it controls us these days, more than we control it.
Perhaps as I am half asleep, my mind seems to wander off. I am transported back to Kermit the Frog and “The Muppet Show”. Poor old Kermit. Was there ever an episode of “The Muppet Show” where he wasn’t stressed out, running around, with his arms in the air, in shear utter panic? It reminded me of a time when life was easier (well for me) but perhaps not, for stressed out Kermit.
I was transported back to reality with a jolt when I heard an email message ping on my phone. Who emails at 5.15am? Curiosity does kill the cat. Being intrigued, I looked at my phone and noticed I had a missed call, a ton of emails that came in overnight and a number of WhatsApp messages. It was at that point that I decided to put down the phone at great speed; let’s get this blog post finished first!
The ‘Old Days’
In the old days, of course, it was rare for someone to call before 8am. When was the last time there were no text messages, no WhatsApp messages, no emails or missed calls, first thing in the morning? I just could not seem to recall the last time. Was it that long ago?
Of course, back in my day people stopped working at 5pm or 6pm. They started afresh in the morning whether it be to another day at work or a day of leisure. Looking back, life seemed easier and simpler back then.
Stress in the Workplace
So while thinking of poor old Kermit running around with his arms in the air, it made me think about stress in the workplace today. Especially after seeing the number of messages I had received this morning.
Stress in the workplace has been a hot topic in 2019.
In April, we even had National Stress Awareness month. I have emphasised the word “month”. Normally when we have anything devoted to “National Awareness”, it is usually followed by the word “day”. In this instance, we had a whole month dedicated to raising awareness of stress, which I think highlights the severity of the problem here in the UK.
I think, just reading the statistics from the Health and Safety Executive in 2017/18, highlights the point quite nicely:
Kermit and The Muppet Show
Going back to Kermit. I learned he was born (or created) in 1965. So quickly doing the maths, it means Kermit is approaching his 65th birthday, which means it is possible he is close to retirement this year. Although I have to say, for all the fans out there, I doubt Kermit will be retiring anytime soon (or like most of us at 65).
Life certainly was never perfect for Kermit. There were always trials and tribulations at The Muppet Theatre that Kermit had to sort out with the theatre cast. A lot of what The Muppets taught us as children (or as adults watching it with our children) was that people are unique. That people from all walks of life can come together and bring their own uniqueness, charisma and talent to put on a fabulous show. Also, that acceptance and tolerance of people’s differences are needed if you are to work as a team and you wish to accomplish your goals. It was Kermit, being the leader however, that was the glue that held them all together.
The cast of “The Muppet Show” were also subject to a couple of hecklers thrown in for good measure. There were the two old men hurling unhelpful criticism at every single show. Perhaps they were there to remind us that no matter how good something is, someone will always find fault or would do something differently.
On the romantic front, Kermit of course, had a somewhat tumultuous on/off relationship with Miss Piggy (which resulted in their last split being in 2015). So, life for Kermit was not an easy one.
Kalm it Kermit!
So that got me thinking: we have all grown up with “The Muppets”, they have entertained us for over approximately 65 years. So, what could have been done for Kermit so he was less stressed in the workplace?
From A Personal Perspective
So from a personal perspective, what can be done to alievate stress and help you deal with stress in the workplace?
Realise There Is No Such Thing As A ‘Perfect Life’
I think the first thing to realise is that life can be far from perfect, even for a star with longevity, like Kermit.
So what advice would I give?
I suppose I might say: why not tailor your life to suit your needs?
Some days you may need to focus more on work, whilst on others, you might want to relax or re-energise with family or friends.
In order to achieve a work/life balance it can sometimes require hard work. It is also something that requires constant monitoring and then trying to put everything into a state of balance, which can be difficult to do. There may be times when work takes precedence over your home life. However, the secret is to try and address the issue; to compromise, compensate and rebalance.
Most of us who work full time, are entitled to a lunch break. If you have a lunch break, take it! Do not sit at your desk, eating lunch and decide to work through it. It is there to revitalise and re-energise. Therefore, why not get out and do something with it, use it and enjoy it!
As Kermit puts it, why not: “Get off the office conveyor belt”!
We all think that stress is negative. But the truth is we will never go through life without it, and a certain amount of stress can drive our enthusiasm or ambition. The key to stress management is to determine the correct amount of stress that gives you enthusiasm, energy and ambition. And then to recognise when any stress passes a tipping point which can affect your health and wellbeing. It is matter of constantly monitoring the situation and doing something about situations when you feel you are close to or have passed the tipping point.
While each person is different and stress can be caused by a multitude of things in one’s life, below are the main issues which universally affect people. As a result, these are the ones you should take measures to either prevent or monitor closely:
- Feeling out of control;
- The feeling of more commitments than time;
- Feeling lost or directionless in life;
- Change or uncertainty; and
- Having overly high expectations of oneself.
Take Time To Unwind
Rowlf the Dog from The Muppets worked until the late hours playing the piano. However, why not take a leaf out from Rowlf’s book. He always made sure not to take work home with him.
“I finish work, I go home, read a book, have a couple of beers, take myself for a walk, and go to bed” – Rowlf the Dog
If you need to unwind, why not try:
It is great form of exercise, but also great for unwinding at the end of a long day at work. It is also great for stretching your back, especially if you have been deskbound all day. If you fancy doing some yoga, Kermit shows you how to do it here.
It is an excellent way to start or end the day. By doing just 10 minutes every day, you will notice a difference. It is not just about physically unwinding; it is also necessary to clear your mind and to let it relax too.
Lie flat and breathe deeply. Put your phone in another room or simply turn it off and begin your mediation journey.
If you have never experienced meditation, why not check out the link here.
Or if you want a list of 50 of the best meditation books, why not visit this article at PositivePsychology.com.
Many of you will be familiar with mindfulness. It is neither new nor old. It is what is says it is! Be mindful of everything including yourself. But this doesn’t mean you have to constantly evaluate how you present, who you may not be mindful of; it is purely the act of being aware of thoughts, emotions, physical sensations and others.
Believe in Yourself
Miss Piggy, apart from being the love interest of Kermit, was the diva of The Muppets. However, the one thing we learned from Miss Piggy was that she was certainly determined in all her pursuits, even if they did not always work out. The one take away from Miss Piggy was the fact that she did truly believe in herself:
“I don’t care what you think of me, unless you think I’m awesome. In which case you are right!” – Miss Piggy
Health is Key
Prioritising your health first will make you a better person (and employee). Being happy makes you more productive. I would suggest maintaining an honest opinion of your health; do not delay that doctor’s appointment; remember to take regular exercise and look after your body and the rest will take care of itself.
If you are stuck behind a desk all day:
- Remember to stand for at least a minute or two every hour.
- Why not try some stretching exercises, such as the ones here?
- If your office has a lift, why not take the stairs to ensure you get some exercise during your day?
Staying hydrated during the day can be difficult for many of us. However, staying hydrated can help us perform better mentally and physically. Research has shown that dehydration can influence our mood and make us feel fatigued. Levels of concentration and alertness can also be affected by not drinking enough water.
So remember, stay hydrated!
Monitor Your Sleep
Not getting enough or having poor sleep can cause irritability and stress. Sleep is extremely important for our well-being as human beings. So make sure each night you get enough (or as much as you can). It is recommended that adults over the age of 18 should get between seven and nine hours sleep a night.
Stress and anxiety can affect sleep and can result in insomnia. Furthermore, if you start to experience chronic insomnia, you may be at risk of developing a mood disorder (such as anxiety or depression); so it is possible for you to get stuck in a loop, with stress and anxiety affecting sleep and the lack of sleep providing additional stress and anxiety. If you have issues sleeping, speaking with your doctor, as sleep is important!
From An Employer’s Perspective
So from an employer’s perspective, what can be done to combat or help stress in the workplace?
There are some simple changes that can be made to an office environment that can boost mood and productivity of your employees, even if there is not much you can do about workloads or demands of the job itself.
- Provide water to enable employees to stay hydrated;
- Introduce plants. “Having flowers around the home and office greatly improves people’s moods and reduces the likelihood of stress-related depression. Flowers and ornamental plants increase levels of positive energy and help people feel secure and relaxed“;
- Let your employees listen to music. Background music has been shown to improve concentration;
- Encourage socialisation;
- Consider repainting your office. It has been shown that the colour of your office can affect office productivity. For more information, why not read this article here.
Flexible working is a way of working that takes into account the needs of the employee. For example, having flexible start and finish times, or allowing employees to work from home. Offering flexible working at your firm, can help relieve work related stress but also has a number of other advantages:
- It boosts employee morale;
- Can help reduce stress in the workplace;
- Reduces absenteeism;
- Reduces employee turnover; and
- Enhances your company image as a family-friendly place to work.
If you wish to read more on the subject, why not check out this article: here.
Like Flexible working, remote working too can be a great way of relieving workplace stress. It too has a number of other advantages:
- It boosts employee morale;
- Can help stress in the workplace;
- Makes employees more autonomous;
- Lowers costs to employees (such as costs of commuting to work);
- Increases productivity;
- Can reduce that organisation’s carbon footprint;
- Reduce absenteeism;
- It reduces employee turnover;
- Allows you access to a wider of pool of applicants;
- Lowers costs to employers (such as office space).
Do What You Do Best And Outsource The Rest!
Think smart and utilise the internet to full effect. One aspect of the business world is that each day is different. By harnessing the benefits of technology and having added resources there ‘at the touch of a button’ deadlines will be met! IT and accounts have been outsourced for years. Typing (transcription) is tipped as the next growth area for outsourcing over the next two to three years.
With the influx of outsourced typing companies, it is an obvious ‘cushion’ for those busier times/holiday/maternity and sick cover. Working in partnership with companies, PAs or secretarial staff can now focus on company growth like never before. So why not use internal resources to do what your firm does best? Then outsource the rest!
As an example, companies often outsource their social media but the question to be asked is: why? Social media is a modern vital marketing tool understood by young people. Why not use employees to do the social media for the company? They will know how to market your product better than an external provider.
So why not outsource the company’s typing to sector-specific companies such as OutSec and save on costs? You can save as much as 30-40% compared to in-house costs thereby increasing efficiency. With OutSec you can do just that!
Simply upload your dictation direct to your dedicated typist and then receive your transcribed documents. It is as simple as 1, 2, 3!
Now have that shower and ‘get to work’ and remember Kalm it Kermit! But before check out Kermit & his friends start to the day
About OutSec The UK’s Leading Online Transcription Company
OutSec is the UK’s leading online transcription company whose business has grown substantially since 2002. We are one of the most successful transcription companies in the United Kingdom.
If information, data security and confidentiality is important to you, do not just cross your fingers when outsourcing transcription to meet your typing needs.
Therefore, if you are agreeing a contract which deals with sensitive data, demand ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials compliance. They are more than logos! These information security standards set the bar high. It takes constant review, challenge and action to receive and retain them. They also provide assurances that OutSec are indeed GDPR compliant.
OutSec provides secure outsourced transcription services to the medical, legal, property and surveying, media and interviews, inventories, financial, commercial, HR, recruitment and Executive Search sectors.
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