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The Mindful Pause

Employee stress continues to be a concern for business owners and managers today. A recent study showed that 8 in 10 workers are stressed by at least one thing at work. Although some levels of stress are normal, and may even be helpful, it is important to recognize that excessive stress levels can affect not only your employee’s performance, but also their personal relationships, health, sleep, and overall sense of well-being.

First, it is helpful to define what we mean by stress. Stress is a person’s response to excessive pressure or demands placed upon them. Stress is usually viewed as a negative, but it can also be a positive. When managed properly, it can often bring out the best in people if they are able to view the stressor as a challenge rather than a threat. However, if an employee seems to be constantly stressed, and not in a way that brings about positive outcomes, it can have negative impacts not only on their personal health, but also on their performance and behavior within the company. It’s this reason that has employers should look for ways to strategically manage employee stress and avoid these harmful consequences.

One way to help employees manage workplace stress can be the Mindful Pause. Practitioners of the Mindful Pause believe that it can help turn stressful or nerve-wracking situations into ones that help individuals excel and bring out their character strengths. People dealing with stress often focus primarily on the negative feelings and emotions that they’re having, rather than thinking about the job-at-hand, causing work performance to suffer. To combat this instinct, there are three steps to follow when taking a Mindful Pause.

  1. When a stressful situation is encountered, spend 15-20 seconds taking deep steady breaths. By focusing on your breathing, you encourage feelings of relaxation and calm.

  2. Then, take a moment to ask yourself what could help you through this situation. Is it an internal character trait or knowledge that you have? Or is there an external tool you need?

  3. Once you have determined what you need, figure out how you’d like to utilize that trait or tool and create an action plan to get through your stress and thrive.

The Mindful Pause has many benefits. First, it helps to stop people from spinning out and getting caught in a negative thought spiral. It also helps to identify the discomfort that is being felt rather than automatically going into a “fight or flight” response. The trick to the Mindful Pause is to practice it during periods of low stress so that it becomes a habit. For example, use the Mindful Pause before you check your emails at the start of the day or when you are returning to work at the end of a break.

Employers are responsible for the safety of their employees while they are at work, and this includes stress management. However, only a mere 35% of employees report they have received sufficient resources at work to help manage stress. Helping your employees manage stress by teaching them the Mindful Pause method can be one tool that will help them, help keep the workplace running smoothly, and boost employee morale.

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