How To Reduce Stress At Work

Being busy has become normal for us these days. We love filling our day with meetings, presentations, important calls without realizing that we are actually operating on auto-pilot, and not really wondering if all our actions will actually lead us to where we wish to go. Most of us are not even sure where we want to go! We are just running the rat-race without introspecting what is the finish-line we wish to reach, or if we are even participating in the race we want.

Making a few changes to our routine and being more mindful can help us break these patterns, and tiny steps aren’t always difficult to implement. Here are a few tips to help boost spirits even on a working day:

  • Have A Relaxing Start To Your Mornings: Do not wake up in a cranky mode at the sound of your third or fourth alarm going off. Add something interesting to your morning routine – for instance, begin the day by listening to your favourite tracks while you get ready for work; or look forward to work after indulging in your choice of breakfast, or having a sip of your favourite tea. Wake up and just savour your surroundings – take in the sights and sounds you usually ignore. You may not see tangible ways in which this is helping at first, but the idea is to re-wire the brain to forming new habits, and breaking old patterns.
  • Set Small Goals: Instead of braving to complete the entire list of tasks you have starting with the most important or the first one on your list, begin by finishing every small little thing – finish that one-minute follow-up call first. Review that one completed report and send it across, instead of waiting to finish that entire pile and mailing them all together.
  • Be Nice To Your Colleagues: Having a friend at work always helps! Help out your colleagues even if you have a huge pile of work to finish. Make it a point to socialize with them during lunch. Interact with them, understand their world. Do not judge them. You’ll feel the lightness in your work-space.
  • Do Not Criticize Yourself: We are all achievement-driven and wish to reach the top. Some of us have a tendency to be really hard on our own self when we don’t achieve the goals we desired, or if they are not achieved in the time-frame we had planned in mind. Do not focus only on your failures. Trace your line of progress in general and review all the good things you’ve done, and see what you can do about your shortcomings – beating yourself up is never the solution.
  • Make Your Work-Space Bright And Interesting: Get rid of all the clutter. Put up a picture of your loved one, or an object that gives you a sense of calm, or even motivational quotes. Dull spaces demotivate us from working especially if the tasks we do at our desk are boring and mundane. Jazz it up a bit and keep your work-station clean!

Don’t you feel these things are simple to do? What are some of the things you do to reduce stress-levels at work?

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Getting Out Of The “Busy” Trap

“Hey, how are you? How’s life?”
“VERY BUSY!”

No matter what time of the year it is, and no matter what our profession – banker, homemaker, student, architect, or software engineer – there is a constant assertion of the scarcity of time. No one around ever seems to have time for doing all the things they want to do; and this grievance is not just limited to people who work long hours or do back-to-back shifts. To add to being busy, almost all of them report feeling tired exhausted. What is even more striking – people’s lamented busyness is almost always self-imposed – it is they who have chosen to surround themselves with work and obligations voluntarily, taken up hobbies and activities, or encouraged their children to participate in extra-curricular activities and classes which has in turn led to additional responsibilities even at their end as parents. Everyone is busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, and often, they dread what they might have to face in the absence of busyness.

shutterstock_223323460Being busy is more of a boast disguised as a complaint, and the stock response is a kind of congratulation: “That is a good problem to have,” or “Better than the opposite.” In fact, there are people who feel guilty and anxious when they aren’t working or doing anything constructive. Organizations are filled with people who let their leaves lapse because they feel they don’t have a good enough reason to justify their need of a break. Employees proudly declare how they have never taken a day off in their entire tenure of service, except the occasional sick leave when they really could not make it to work. But are sick days the only time one requires an off?

Even children are not spared from the busy trap. They are scheduled down to the quarter-hour with school, tuition classes and extra-curricular activities. They return home as tired as the adults. They are never exposed to any form of unstructured time, and hence are in constant need of stimulation. People fail to realize that idleness is not really a vice – sometimes, the space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for taking a step back from life and viewing it whole, for making unexpected connections, or for just doing something spontaneous – being idle, paradoxically, is exactly what is required when one has an entire chunk of work to get done. Archimedes’s “Eureka” moment that came to him in the bath, Newton’s apple – history is filled with stories of inspirations that came in idle moments.

All we need to do is take the pressure off our shoulders. Stop with our check-lists and things-to-do-today lists. Pause for a moment and carefully review – what are the actual commitments that are absolutely non-negotiable? Only a handful, surely!
Are there things that can be put off for later?
Is it okay if you say no to some people?
Is it alright if you don’t work towards achieving all your dreams at the same time?
The answer is yes, yes and absolutely yes!
Take a pause from your everyday life, doing only the things you have to do, and spend some time just looking after yourself. Rest. Spend quality time with a friend or a loved one. Read some fiction. Reflect on how you are feeling. We often get stuck in a “doing” mode, moving towards our goals, believing that the rewards lying on the other side of those actions are what we really what. But what do you really want? I speak only for myself, and I know at the end of the day, I want freedom to enjoy my life and feel good about myself.

There is no point in drowning oneself with work, being busy the whole day, the entire month, months on end, feeling miserable each day, each moment, only to receive the promotion one was chasing, and then be further burdened with more work, more responsibility. Instead, stop for a while. Breathe. Realize that all freedom and all acceptance is here. Work never comes to a halt. There is always the next project to begin once one ends. But take time out to celebrate the completed tasks. Appreciate the hard work you are doing. Appreciate all that you have in the moment right now before pursuing more.

There is a time for taking action and future progress. There is also time to pause and just be in the moment. Use your time wisely.

Freedom to make space

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I’ve always believed in decluttering. Throw out all the clothes you don’t wear, all the things you don’t use. Discard, donate, do what you need to do but get rid of unrequired stuff. How else will you make room for new things? However, while I have often practised this in my physical space, it took me quite a while to apply the same principles and create that emotional space for myself.

Create space for the arrival of things you really want in your life. It can only come flowing through when there is space available for it. Happiness comes from leading a life of contentment, fulfilment and love. Eliminate things and people from your life who are no more serving any purpose. It is alright to say good-bye. It does not make you selfish!

Daily routine and some drama, here and there, often clutter our lives. As does monotony. If you aren’t happy with the way things are shaping in your life, ask yourself the following question:
If you haven’t made any changes and are continuing to repeat the same things over and over again, what is the likelihood of the shift to manifest in your space?

You must pull the trigger!

Sometimes, the distracting thoughts that occupy the mental space in your brain may be what has been preventing you from using the creative energies you need for something better, something bigger. If those thoughts that you have in your mind are supposed to be there, they really wouldn’t hurt you that much.

It’s time to let go. Let go of the toxic relationships that serve no purpose. Get rid of the so-called friends who bring you down instead of supporting you. Love yourself instead of holding on to a love that’s never going to stay by your side. Give up your boring job and pursue your dreams – sometimes, it’s all about going with what the heart wants.

Making space involves choosing happiness over suffering, and it isn’t always an easy task. Sometimes, you are required to burn bridges in order to achieve that. And sometimes you will need to close a few doors. Yes, it is painful. You may lose people on the way and break a few hearts. You may make many people angry. But always remember that the person whose heart means the most in all of this is yours. So, please do what needs to be done.

And, yes, it isn’t one bit easy. Most of the time, the people we need space from are the ones we are thinking about most of the time. They are the ones we are spending maximum time with. But, it is necessary at times to just pull the band aid. It is difficult to walk away, but sometimes, we need to be strong and do just that. Block the numbers, delete the messages, hide the posts…Maybe not forever, but do it for now…Until the space is made, until the positivity starts flowing…Until you feel healthy and happy. Do it for you.

If someone really wants to be a part of your life, they will do whatever it takes and they will make the effort. So, let go of the people who don’t make any effort to stay. No need to reserve a spot for them in your heart. And sometimes, it’s not about people…

Sometimes you may want to get out of the job that’s stressing you out, or an unfavourable domestic situation. Cut off from those things and see how you suddenly are able to soar a wee bit higher than you could previously.

Less is often more. And sometimes, just creating that teeny-tiny space makes you feel ten kilograms lighter! Having space makes you reflect on exactly what is needed. Shifts will happen, and they’ll happen quickly. Very soon, you may even begin to wonder why that stuff even took up so much space to begin with!

 

Why Gen-X and Gen-Y Behave Differently At Work

“Values are the essence of who we are as human beings. Our values get us out of bed every morning, help us select the work we do, the company we keep, the relationships we build, and ultimately, the groups and organizations that we lead. Our values influence every decision and move we make, even to the point of how we choose to make our decision.”
– Robert Rue

According to a Pew research study, in 2016, the Millenials (people born between 1985 and 2004) now make up most of the workforce, surpassing Gen-X (people born between 1965 and 1984). Despite being back-to-back generations, some key differences have been observed between them; an understanding of which is essential in order to avoid conflict and get a better insight into the individual’s thinking process.

Gen-Xers mostly came to age just in time to experience the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and a series of economic crises which led to massive layoffs and corporate downsizing. Many witnessed their parents getting laid-off, and while they may have been rebellious in their youth, but as they move into middle age, they have a growing sense of responsibility and a wish to correct the mistakes made by the previous generations for they’ve learnt to expect and embrace change. They believe in being pragmatic and adopting tried and tested methods because they truly believe that they’ve seen it all, and aren’t much into experimenting with “nonsense”.

On the other hand, Gen-Y or the Millenials are believed to be living the desired life, since they were more sheltered from society than their predecessors, and come from more stable family and home environments. They are also believed to be the “Peter Pan” generation since they try delaying adulthood as much as possible, shirking away from taking responsibility as much as they can. However, when they do come of age, their idealistic notions drive them to create order in the highly chaotic world. Gen-Y has grown up in an era of globalization, rapid technological advancement and they want work that is fulfilling and meaningful, as well as rewarding from a tangible lens.

shutterstock_295307711Since the workplace is an amalgamation of people belonging to both these generations, the differences in thinking do create certain challenges that need to be overcome in order for the organization to sustain its employees and maintain productivity. Gen-X acknowledges the importance of having a work-life balance and do their best to achieve it; but for Millenials, work-life balance is a must and they demand it! It is no wonder that companies like Google India not only provide their employees with a creative and fun ambiance but also give them access to fully-equipped gyms across offices with personal trainers, recreation areas where employees can play table-tennis, air-hockey, pool and other games, sleep pods to help employees recharge with a quick nap.

Millenials have often been regarded to be less loyal to their employers than their older colleagues, but that blanket statement does not shed light on the real perspective of the Millenials. While Gen-X believes that the path to promotion is long and comes with several years of hard work, experience and expertise, the Gen-Y believes that if you are really good at your job, the limited years of experience do not matter. Gen-X believes that promotion is inevitable and if they stick around long enough, one day their company shall promote them. Gen-Y does not cater to this belief-system – they are comfortable hopping from one job to the next for better prospects because they believe they are worth it, and they see the world to be an ocean of limitless opportunities. Millenials also have higher levels of education which makes it easier for them to negotiate their terms of work all throughout their careers (Ng, Schueitzer, Lyons, 2010).

Gen-X believes in playing by the rules while the Millenial constantly strives for innovation owing to its digital-nativity. This generational diversity does affect the overall dynamics of an organization. Recognizing and understanding these differences helps create an environment that is suitable for a better and more effective work-place.

 

 

References:

Lyons, Sean T., Linda Schweitzer, Eddy S. W. Ng. (2010). New Generation, Great Expectations: A Field Study of the Millennial Generation. Journal of Business and Psychology . 25 (2), pp.281-292

 

Why Pursuing Hobbies Is Good For You

These days whenever I ask children or college-students about their hobbies, they just give me a blank stare. One outspoken teenager actually told me, “Who has time for hobbies now? Everyone’s on the phone!” He is not wrong. All of us are so busy in our daily affairs that we have no time for anything fun! As parents, we do not send our children for dance classes or piano lessons just for fun, these things also have become a competition.

People who are busy in offices with 9 to 5 jobs also have no time for hobbies. Their lives revolve around making it to work on time, spending evenings socializing with friends, checking what others are up to on Facebook and Instagram, and spending time at home watching Netflix. Everyone has wonderfully created this illusion of being busy, and they wear the “I am so busy” badge of importance to show how short of time they are for doing anything of any significance.

However, it is high time we give up the illusion and start making time for pursuing a hobby or two. Hobbies – be it baking, knitting or playing music – help us recharge. After a rough day at work, going home and sitting in front of the idiot box will not do anything to elevate your mood. Instead, if cooking is something you enjoy, going home and trying to cook a dish you love to eat will definitely boost your spirits. According to a study in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy, being able to master a recipe and create a successful end product that is enjoyable increases levels of confidence.

Hobbies also help you increase efficiency. If you know you have to make it to your kickboxing lesson on time on a particular evening, chances are you are going to try getting work done faster and with lesser mistakes.

Hobbies also help you maintain a healthy work-life balance by presenting you with opportunities to meet new people who share the same interests as you. It also makes you more interesting as a person because by pursuing a hobby, you are actually expanding your horizon and being able to have knowledge of things that are beyond the mundane.

Making time for a hobby is also not very difficult. The first step involves making a list of things you’ve always wanted to do and then creating a weekly schedule to fit at least one activity once a week. Limiting time spent on social media and watching television will automatically give you ample time to do the things you actually wanted to do. Don’t wait for retirement to go on a trip or learn something new. Browse through the newspapers and the web to find information on interesting workshops happening in your city, and just pick one that piques your interest. Just make some time and carve out a hobby now! There is always time to do all the nothing you want to do!