Worldwide, stress and burnout are on the rise. In Ireland, around 80% of working professionals experience work-related stress. Worst even, Ireland is among the worst in Europe when it comes to burnout. It’s bad. These numbers are too high. The mental health of our workforce is under pressure. We must collectively address this to build flourishing workplaces across Ireland.
A 2-step framework to tackle stress in your organisation
As a network of wellbeing and mental fitness experts, we at Positive Psychology Coaches Ireland work with companies and organisations in a 2-step framework. First, we support you on your organisational level, helping you to understand the stressors that are putting pressure on your workforce. What are the factors within your company culture that may cause stress? Are there any industry-specific or systemic pressures that contribute to employee stress levels?
We help you analyse your status quo and advise you on a plan of action that tackles your employee wellbeing holistically and with evidence-based strategies.
The second step is employee empowerment, supported through interactive workshops and active group learning. We specialise in building innovative wellbeing workshops that not only teach your teams how to better deal with stress, but also give them actionable strategies to incorporate into their day-to-day.
Understanding your body’s response to stress
From an evolutionary perspective, our ancestors were faced with life-threatening dangers on nearly a daily basis. Our stress response developed out of a need to quickly prepare the body for a fight or flight or freeze response. In order to do that, our nervous system activates the body (heart rate, muscle tension, high alert) through the release of adrenaline. If the stressor persists longer than 30 minutes, a second phase is activated through the release of cortisol. Cortisol helps to sustain the physical response for long periods of time.
This system is a brilliant course of action when you meet a predator in the ancient forest and need to fight or flight for your life. However, nowadays, we spend most of our time sitting in the comfort and safety of our home or workplace, working away from our digital desks.
So what are we so stressed about?
In a world where everyone is always-on, where workplaces are organised around a high-performance culture, output and results have become the currency of success. Every day you try to get to the end of your endless todo-list. Consequently, your stress levels are constantly high. Remember that cortisol? I bet your cortisol levels are sky-high most of the time, keeping you focused and alert to do your work - but also keeping you up at night, unable to relax and sleep.
Is all stress bad?
Stress is not always stressful. In fact, we operate at our best when we have moderate to high-stress levels. This is called peak performance, and it happens when you push yourself out of your comfort zone, into the unknown, feeling an optimal level of pressure to perform. This stress is quite energising, making us feel good about ourselves and what we do at work.
However, if that level is sustained - or expected to be sustained - over long periods of time, employees feel the strain. If this kind of stress is present for more than a few weeks at a time, it may lead to burnout.
Stress Relief Strategy: MICRO+ BREAKS
An easy yet effective stress relief strategy is the concept of MICRO+ BREAKS. Don’t underestimate the power of just 5 minutes of stepping away from your desk, stretching and clearing your mind!
Participants in our stress management workshops are encouraged to create their own idea bank of MICRO+ BREAKS that they can do in short time intervals of 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes or 1 hour and more. It’s an ideal starting point to get people thinking about what is possible. Often, when we are in a time of high stress, we are so focused on that project, that everything else is ignored. Encouraging your teams to start by adding MICRO+ BREAKS into their day empowers them to take control of their working day again.
Stress management starts with healthy boundaries
In high-performing environments, we often find a culture of “never good enough”. Teams under performance pressure often fall into the trap of saying yes to more demands from their customers, collaborators or internal stakeholders. Our stress management workshops for leaders invite your leadership team to cultivate healthy boundaries to protect their team’s workload and to lead by positive example. Our employee stress management workshops teach your people what healthy boundaries look like and how to set these.
Offer a Stress Management Masterclass to your team
We work with companies, organisations and schools across Ireland, helping you and your people find a better balance - for more happiness at work. Are you ready to work with us and tackle stress in your workforce?