A couple of years ago late one afternoon I received a phone call from a stressed senior manager from a large business group. He wanted to talk with me about how his organisation could adopt some destressing tools and strategies to support employee wellbeing, decrease workplace stress and overwhelm, and increase workplace productivity.
He commented to me that I sounded very calm and grounded and asked me how I personally handled my own workplace stress.
My response was that I used many different techniques, tools and strategies so I could use stress to my advantage.
I told him I was working from home today and right now it was 4pm and I was taking 20 minutes out to work with my hands, and I was in my vegetable garden. His call had been diverted to my mobile.
There was stunned silence…
Over many years we have taught thousands of people to change the way they are using their brain during any 24-hour period. As stress is a perception, when we change our state, we change our physiology and we change how our mind is functioning.
Susan Biali Haas M.D. in an article in Psychology Today titled ‘Working With Your Hands Does Wonders for Your Brain’ states that activities that use your hands relieve stress and help you solve problems.
Haas goes onto to say…
“First, when we use our hands on a task that doesn’t demand much cognitively, it gives the mind a chance to relax and rest. As a knowledge worker (I’m a doctor, writer, coach, speaker, etc.), I’m constantly using my brain. It’s gotten worse with the advent of the smartphone, as I spend so much of my downtime reading interesting articles. I also love reading novels. My brain rarely catches a break.
I get a huge sense of relief and pleasure from doing something with my hands that doesn’t require me to think much about anything. It’s magnificent.
Second, when my brain is ‘offline”, it gives it a chance to work on problems behind the scenes. From a number of essays and articles that I read on this topic, it’s not uncommon for people to have breakthrough ideas while mindlessly working on something with their hands.”
“Third, working productively with our hands is profoundly pleasurable. There is something primal about this. We are made to be activeand have actively used our hands as part of our daily survival for thousands of years. With the advent of so much technology, many of us move through our days with minimal physical effort. We push a button instead of scrubbing dishes or laundry. Overall, we get far less physical activity than would be optimal for our bodies and minds.”
“Using our hands may actually be key to maintaining a healthy mood, and the lack of this type of activity may contribute to feelings of irritability, apathy, and depression.”
Back to the stressed senior manager.
The silence continued for a time and he eventually said, “can stress relief be as simple as changing the way we do some things in the workplace and giving people some different time outs?”.
My answer was yes, however, it needs to be planned and your people need to learn simple sustainable self-care and easy to use techniques, tools and strategies to move them out of the stress spiral and into the calm.
This Weeks Video…
How to Handle Stress Better – Choose One Idea Tool – Dr Judy Hinwood