How to Deal with Stress at Work

How to Deal with Stress at Work

Workplace stress does more than kill productivity. It also wrecks your employee’s health. Studies link workplace stress to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Workplace stress impacts mental health by increasing anxiety, burnout, and depression. 

Stress can also feed on itself, increasing over time—when we feel anxiety, we typically become less productive, which can cause more stress, leading to greater fatigue and more issues at work. In fact, more than 550 million workdays are missed annually due to job-related stress. Stress leads to burnout, affecting company turnover. HR leaders say employee burnout plays a role in nearly 50% of cases where employees decide to leave their job. 

How can employers and employees resolve this increasingly common issue? Well, researchers have found that engaging in complementary therapies like mindfulness-based stress reduction, yoga, and music therapy can decrease stress in the workplace, limiting the amount of turnover. 

In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of the science-backed techniques employers are using to reduce stress, explain how they work, and what you can do to integrate them into your work environment.

Woman at desk meditating

What Is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction?

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a form of therapy that combines the elements of mindfulness and meditation with yoga and body awareness exercises. The goal of MBSR is to help individuals develop the ability to focus their attention and become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations to reduce stress and improve overall well-being.

MBSR typically involves a multi-week program that includes:

  • Guided mindfulness meditations to focus attention on the present moment, bringing awareness to thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations
  • Group discussions to normalize the challenges of practicing mindfulness
  • Mindfulness in daily life (how to integrate practices at home and work)
  • Stress management and coping

MBSR was developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in the 1970s and is widely used today in hospitals, clinics, and other settings to help individuals manage chronic pain, anxiety, and other health conditions.  

There are many benefits of MBSR:

  • Reduces stress and anxiety (increasing awareness of one’s thoughts and feelings and learning to respond to them)
  • Improves physical health 
  • Reduces the impact of chronic pain conditions
  • Teaches skills to cope with difficult situations
  • Improves control over anxiety, reducing tension
  • Heightens focus and attention

MBSR is a personalized approach that can be adapted from individual to individual. A growing body of evidence-based research shows this treatment is highly effective at eliminating stress and burnout at work while increasing job satisfaction.

People in group yoga sessions

Can Yoga Alleviate Work-Related Stress?

Yoga relieves stress by reducing physical and emotional tension in the body. Yoga is a physical and psychological practice that incorporates mind-body techniques such as gentle stretching, meditation, and breathing to improve your health. 

There are many styles of yoga—however, all incorporate three core components:

  • Poses/Postures – a series of movements to increase flexibility and strength
  • Controlled Breathing – increases concentration, centering your focus on your body
  • Meditation – draws attention to the present, away from fears and worries of the future or past

By integrating these primary elements, yoga focuses on reducing stress in the body and mind, incorporating:

  • Relaxation techniques for breathing 
  • Mindfulness to increase awareness of emotions, feelings, and bodily sensations
  • Physical exercise to release tension
  • Emotional regulation to improve mental clarity and self-awareness
  • Coping techniques to improve emotional resilience
  • Improves focus and attention

Recent research shows that regularly practicing yoga plays an influential role in reducing anxiety, depression, and stress—by combining these approaches at work and home, employees can build a schedule that works for them, reducing stress while promoting their health and improving productivity.

Man and young child wearing headphones listening to music together

Can Music Therapy Lessen Employee Stress at Work?

Music therapy is an evidence-based clinical practice that uses music to address a patient’s cognitive, emotional, physical, and social needs. Research shows music therapy can lessen workplace stress and increase relaxation by distracting from tasks during breaks. Typically, concentration on work is good—however, taking effective breaks can provide much-needed perspective and distance from a task that can actually improve productivity. 

Listening to calming music lowers the heart rate and blood pressure, releasing endorphins, which improve mood and reduce stress. Music therapy can help employees process and cope with difficult emotions related to work. Music therapy is also a tool for mindfulness and meditation, enhancing the effectiveness of other stress-reduction therapies.

Music therapists are trained professionals who use music to address a variety of goals, including:

  • Improving Communication
  • Managing Stress
  • Reducing Pain
  • Promoting Physical Rehabilitation

Music therapy works by fine-tuning elements of composition, such as rhythm, melody, harmony, and timbre to achieve specific therapeutic goals. Relying on improvisation, songwriting, listening to music, and movement, music therapists establish a therapeutic relationship with each patient to support emotional expression, improve communication, and promote physical relaxation. Music therapy sessions can be individual or group-based, depending on your specific needs. 

For example, a music therapist may use improvisation to help coworkers express emotions they have difficulty verbalizing. Or, a therapy session can lead to collaboration and reduce stress between team members by easing tensions. 

One recent study demonstrated that music therapy can:

  • Stimulate Employee Innovation/Creativity
  • Reduce Fatigue
  • Relieve Workplace Stress
  • Improve Employee Productivity

Music therapy works by creating a safe, non-threatening environment where individuals can express themselves through music and where the therapist can use the elements of musical expression to achieve specific therapeutic goals.

Man sitting at laptop visibly stressed

How to Help Your Employees Deal with Workplace Stress

Workplace stress is a killer. As a significant contributor to lowered productivity, burnout, and turnover, more and more employers are finding success with sustainable wellness practices that can ease tensions in the workplace. 

The complementary therapies of MBSR, yoga, and music have helped hundreds of employers better equip their workforce to handle the demands of the job, improving output while increasing job satisfaction. 

At Poppy Life Care, our holistic wellness experts work closely with employers to create healthier work environments for their employees, offering customized services to address the unique concerns of individuals. Speak with one of our experienced team members today to learn how you can foster a happier, healthier workforce.