I’ve had many conversations with clients over the last few weeks who are struggling with pressure and stresses at work. It’s a common story but one often brushed aside as though we’re all expected just to get on with it. There’s only so much one person can do and yet we’re often pressured to do more. Is our expectation of what one person can do wildly unrealistic? And why are we being pressured to do so much more than what’s humanly possible?
Stress, pressure and emotional turmoil in any capacity, be it at work or home is no small thing. In fact, the toll it can take on our bodies and our minds can be debilitating. Our minds are every bit as important as our bodies, if not more. A healthy mind underpins our ability to live, learn and work in an increasingly complex and fast-paced world. 45% of Australian adults will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. 1 in 5 of us is experiencing a mental health condition right now! The statistics speak for themselves. Something needs to change.
It’s easy to blame our stress on our boss or a difficult client but more often than not we create the stress ourselves without realising it. Our stress can come from how much we expect of ourselves and the timeframes we give ourselves to do anything. We want to be all things to all people and that’s simply not possible. When this happens we just need to sit back, catch our breath and say it’s okay to go slow, it’s okay to take our time and ask “who am I doing this for anyway?”. If the pressure is coming from elsewhere, its okay to speak up and say “I’m not okay with this”.
Most of us go into a shell and become very fatigued when our minds are in emotional meltdown, its very common to hibernate, to brush things under the carpet, to close ourselves off and not speak up or ask for help. We may be exhausted, paddling as fast as we can but still drowning. Sometimes we’re so busy “getting on with it” we don’t even stop to check if our workload is realistic and feel we don’t have the time to ask for help.
The positive news is there are many things we can do to help relieve some of the tension and pressures we deal with on a day to day basis.
Exercise – Great for the mind, body & soul. Dr Nicola Burton, senior research fellow in the University of Queensland’s school of human movement studies, says when it comes to exercise “Even if you don’t have depression or anxiety or a serious mental illness that you want help managing, you can enhance your wellbeing and vitality.” This is because exercise can boost mood, concentration, alertness, and even your propensity to look on the bright side, she says. “We’ve just done a study showing people who engage in regular exercise experience higher levels of optimism.” Sometimes it feels like you’re too busy to excercise. In reality, a one hour workout is only 4% of your day. Exercise can improve your productivity and you have a much better chance of getting through that to-do list if you’re feeling refreshed and reenergised.
Communication – Letting people know that it’s not okay to expect the impossible, saying ‘no’, letting our loved ones know we are struggling, making those around us at work or home aware that you’re doing it tough. Sometime’s we do such a good job of pretending everything’s okay that no one realises it’s not. If people don’t know you’re struggling they can’t support you.
Relaxation – Taking some time out to do something for ourselves e.g. a massage, a night away, a call with an old friend, reading a book, going to a concert or simply quiet time at home with a movie or meditating. In our digitally-connected world, un-plugging from technology can really help us wind-down too. Turn your phone off – go on, I dare you.
So can we all agree, we are not robots and it’s alright to be human. It’s okay to say ‘no’ or ‘not right now’. Relax and reach-out, and don’t disregard the power of exercise. Let’s commit to taking care of our minds, as well as our bodies.
Kate Kesans, June 2018