Have you joined the cult of busy?

Posted on: April 21, 2015 by Andrew Kinder

How to cope with stress in the hectic workplace?

From chief executives to stay-at-home mums and from young professionals to students, the near-on universal response to the question, “How are you?” is “I’m so busy!” Between work, socialising and getting the housework done, the average person seems to have fewer hours in the day than ever before. This is due to a combination of many factors including the influence of technology. This has increased our expectations of what can be achieved within a smaller window of time and fed a desire to keep up with our neighbours and peers to stay ahead of the latest trends. It has also resulted in an increased blurring of the lines between our professional and personal lives.

This continual pressure we put on ourselves has impacted our wellbeing in the workplace. Over the last few years, stress and mental health disorders have overtaken back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders as the biggest long-term health problem and cause of sickness absence. So how can we escape the cult of busy?

    • Monitor colleagues’ shifting mood patterns: Although it will likely be over time that mood is affected, people often seem to change from being able to cope with their workload to not being able to cope in a matter of moments. If a colleague suddenly becomes withdrawn, schedule 1-2-1s to check in with them, or invite them out to share lunch together. Families that eat together develop tighter bonds; and taking a break with your colleagues will enable you to do the same.
    • Engage in team sports: Exercising releases endorphins and physically improves your mood. But in the cult of busy, it’s very easy to put off exercise. So, sign up for team sports, which not only helps you to increase social interactions with friends and colleagues, but also encourages you to go along to each session. If you’re part of a team, you won’t want to let them all down by working late.
    • Keep a note pad by your bed: Thinking about work overnight keeps adrenaline pumping, preventing you from sleeping. Keep a note pad by your bed to jot down your thoughts which are keeping you awake in the middle of the night. This will help put your mind at rest and allow you to get some sleep.
    • Don’t encourage email overload: We’re all guilty of sending too many internal emails; which not only clog up our inboxes but also our minds. To address this, we introduced ‘Zero Email’, our vision to eradicate all emails between Atos employees. We’ve managed to significantly reduce the amount of email we send by using improved collaboration tools, such as our corporate social network, blueKiwi.
    • Don’t depend on your personal time to get your work done: I recently worked with a client who had actually started to rely on his insomnia to get through his workload by starting work at 3am every night. Set boundaries between your personal and work life and stick to them.
    • Don’t dismiss talking therapies, including coaching: They are incredibly vital tools helping millions of workers every day. Often admitting to the problem is the biggest but most important hurdle and can be all the employee needs to alleviate their stress.

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About Andrew Kinder
Head of Mental Health Services at Optima Health
As Professional Head of Mental Health Services at Optima Health, Andrew Kinder takes a lead on delivering its Wellbeing@work programme, which works globally to improve the health and wellbeing of its employees. Andrew has made a unique contribution in the area of counselling in the workplace over the last 15 years. He has been a leader in this specialist field work over this period, serving on the Executive Committee of the BACP Workplace (formerly Association for Counselling at Work). He has also promoted workplace counselling through committee work at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Counselling, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the Commercial Occupational Health Providers Association. He was recently awarded a Fellowship by BACP.