Let's face it - work can be stressful.
Or, if you are like most of the world - work IS stressful. Unrealistic deadlines, work overload, difficult bosses, customers and coworkers, a cut- throat competitive environment are just a few contributors to a stressed out work force in 2018.
How much has work stress become part of our work culture? The American Association for Stress shares some of the startling statistics:
80 % of workers feel stress on the job.
25% have been driven to tears because of workplace stress
19% or almost one in five respondents had quit a previous position because of job stress
OK, so you're not alone but why would you want to increase your stress levels?
While most of us would like to reduce stress, everyday many of us choose to buy into mindsets and actions that increase the stress we experience.
While stress may be on the rise in the 21st century, these negative mindsets and actions were born back in ancient Egypt, where our ancestors were enslaved. Here are some of the stress inducing mindsets in Egypt that are living and kicking more than 3000 years later.
RELENTLESS NEED FOR CONTROL
The Egyptian ideology was based on the need for control. When astrologers foresaw the birth of the future redeemer of Israel (Moses), Gvt. policy was implemented to stop this inevitable event from happening, even if this meant throwing every new born baby boy into the Nile River. Relentless need for control did not work for Pharoah and it does not help us most of the time either.
TASKS WITHOUT THE RESOURCES TO COMPLETE THEM
Pharoah promoted the management model of work goals with too limited resources to get the job done. He tasked the Jewish slaves with making bricks from straw without giving them the straw they needed to make their quotas & then held them responsible for not hitting their target. If you've ever been in this situation you know how discouraging, defeating and stressful this can be.
CONSTANT WORK WITH NO SIESTA TIME
Work, Work and then Work. Pharoah recognized that having time to regroup, breathe and be focused on the present moment would enable his slaves to develop aspirations to get out of the slavery rat race and seek new opportunities. His strategy was simple. Keep working relentlessly without having any time for a break. The internal pull to keep on pushing at the expense of breakfast, lunch or just a break proves to have a negative effect on our productivity and creativity.
The good news is that the Jewish people left Egypt over 3000 years ago. Here are 3 practical strategies for having your own personal exodus this moment & start working with less stress.
DEVELOP YOUR TRUST
Yes, Judaism wants you to work hard & do your best at work. Somehow, it seems that as much as we try to plan for everything there are always things that happen that are out of our control. Where our control ends, trust in G-d begins. Next time you start feeling stress from lack of control, try this mantra - I replace the feeling of overwhelmed with dependency. Open yourself to G-d's invitation of his role in your day to day to do lists.
GET THE TOOLS YOU NEED TO SUCCEED
If it's not working, change the plan. Ask yourself - What are 3 things that would make my job easier?
Sometimes the solution is a mentor, coach or coworker to help manage your time, priorities or just advice on how use a new technology/method that will help you get our work done more efficiently.
Other times, it may mean approaching your manager or team members to brainstorm on delegating work that is taking up your resources so that you can focus on what you do best and perform at your best.
ALLOW YOURSELF TO STOP
Thoughts like "There's no time to take a break" should raise red flags in our work attitude. Studies show that taking a focused break to shut off, take a deep breathe and recharge will result in up to more productivity in the long run. This is on top of the proven long term effects 'stopping' has on our health and overall happiness. If you are new to deep breathing, look out for my next blog that will explore easy ways to integrate into your day.
And of course, share your favorite stress busting exercises below.