It’s no wonder that employers are investing in on-site gyms and spending more time developing a healthy workplace culture. According to recent studies, more than 25% of workers say that their job is the single greatest stressor in their life and nearly half of workers say workplace stress is so high that it affects their overall health and well-being. The statistics are pretty frightening, and not just for employees. Engagement and culture, not compensation, are the biggest predictors of employee production, turnover, and well-being. Research has shown that workplace stress leads to an increase of almost 50% in voluntary turnover, and the level of stress reported by an organization’s employees is closely linked to its healthcare expenditures. Fortunately, there are many small things you can do, as an employee, to limit the amount of stress experienced by yourself and to improve the workplace environment for everyone around you.
There is no perfect employer. While there are certainly toxic environments, creating a professional paradise is a state of mind that is largely under your control. Negative thoughts fundamentally change the brain, decreasing activity in specific areas and altering item-specific processing so that we perpetuate a cycle of harmful emotions. Stopping this downward spiral before it starts can be empowering, and doing so is quite simple: Practice gratitude. Whether verbally or through written word, take time to express what and who you are thankful for. Find positive, like-minded people and create your own support system. Even if you find yourself mired in negative thoughts, studies have shown that you can easily be influenced by the positive cues of those around you. Lastly, take a problem-solving approach and commit to resolving concerns immediately. If you are worried about a specific project or you’re not getting along with a colleague, don’t let it fester until it spoils your entire workplace experience and spreads throughout the office.
Organization and time management are not only two important characteristics of an efficient workplace, but also of a happy one. Research has shown that productive employees are happy employees. While this ultimately starts up top, with the company’s management style and culture, your individual actions can have drastic effects on your environment. The latest in neurological science has shown us that humans are generally terrible at multitasking; in fact, based upon fundamental brain function, it is impossible. Understanding how the human brain works in accomplishing tasks makes it clear that maximizing productivity and minimizing stress is highly dependent on one’s ability to strategically delegate executive brain functioning. The keys: prioritize and schedule. Schedule set times to focus on the most important tasks and automate as much of the rest as possible. It will not only make you look like a superstar, but also studies have shown that your productivity and positive morale rubs off on coworkers, improving the entire workplace environment.
Practice healthy lifestyle habits
The connection between healthy lifestyle behaviors and stress resilience is direct and highly researched. Countless studies have shown that those who regularly exercise are better at dealing with acute stress. In one of the most captivating neuroscience studies of the past year, researchers found that healthy dietary habits can directly increase plasma levels of methionine (an essential amino acid that assists in regulating levels of choline and S-Adenosylmethionine in the brain), leading to decreased risk for memory impairment and increased ability to handle stressful situations. And, probably of little surprise, sleep is an important mechanism of psychological resilience. Taking care of your physical health is one of the fundamental ways to promote mental and psychological well-being—and healthy habits are contagious.
Diffuse essential oils
Recent research has shown that smelling essential oils can improve positive and negative affect in some of the most stressful environments, but what exactly are they? These concentrated oils extracted from plants have been used for a variety of reasons for thousands of years, and contemporary research is showing that the path to happiness may begin at the nose. While we are just beginning to understand how our olfactory system has such vast influences on our emotions, what we do know is that they unequivocally do. Whether your workplace environment is high stress or the doldrums of corporate cubicle monotony, putting a few drops of your favorite essential oil in a diffuser is a logical first step to improving the mood for everybody in the office.
It is called “work” and not “happy fun time” for a reason, but that doesn’t mean those 8 (or 10 or 12) hours you spend at the office have to be a stress circus that you deal with to keep food on the table. Create your own professional paradise by promoting a healthy work environment with these four easy steps.
Dr. Damian Rodriguez is the health and exercise scientist for doTERRA International, LLC. He holds a doctorate in health science, a master’s degree in exercise physiology, and countless professional certifications. He has spent most of his life researching nutrition, exercise, and the lifestyle behaviors associated with optimal health. Along with his passion for health, as someone who lives with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is also involved in bringing awareness to autism spectrum disorders. There are varying opinions about many health and fitness topics. His opinions are his own and not necessarily that of doTERRA International, LLC. Consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to diet and exercise.