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Stresslaxing At Work

Imagine this: You’re sitting with your colleagues during your lunch break. You’re smiling and laughing, chiming in with a few jokes here and there, but inside, a foreboding sense of pressure is brewing. You’re ruminating on the impending deadline you have 3 days later, and how sitting here is just taking away the time you could use to achieve it. Suddenly, everyone around you warps into red-tailed monsters chanting “Unproductive, Unproductive!” at you. Feel familiar? 

Stresslaxing: An Introduction

We all have been common victims of Stresslaxing, which is a Gen-Z term used to describe the act of feeling unable to truly unwind during relaxation time; and the necessary activity of relaxation itself stresses you out due to pre-existing vicious thought patterns in your head. This rather defeats the purpose of relaxing, where you’re supposed to comfortably disconnect yourself from the mundane, nitty-gritty of life and your professional world. Instead, the act of relaxing rings alarm bells in your brain, and you’re left feeling anxious about the very thing that intends to combat it, and this can create a vicious cycle which is challenging to break free from.  Why does this happen?

That’s a tricky question. We could always come up with the most obvious answer that comes to mind, which is that the person themselves is a “Type-A” personality or someone who is stressed out in general. While that could be possible, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Stress, even in the presence of personal factors, rarely occurs in isolation from context. There is a constant tug-of-war between natural tendencies and environment.  Ultimately, the rope breaks, and voila! Both win.

A lot of personal factors like denial, perfectionism (yes), anxious tendencies, and so on can lead you to experience stresslaxing. Supplementing these are environmental factors like a hyper-productive way of life, a not-so-great workplace “culture”, and even a few not-so-nice people around you. Basically, the major problem here is not that moments of relaxation are taking away our “valuable” time from work, it’s that we are not working on the underlying reasons behind our stress. 

As we all know, stress has significant negative impacts on our daily functioning. Jumping tangents from our personal life to the professional one, when relaxation goes from soothing to stressful, it is enough to make your workplace a claustrophobic pressure cooker for you. It can have less-than-optimal impacts on all aspects of work, like your creativity, ability to take risks (even calculated ones), performance and engagement, not excluding your mental and physical well-being. We can imagine how such cascading effects can impact your burnout levels and job satisfaction. The effects ripple further outward: hypothetically - often it’s not - if enough employees face these concerns, there will be sizable impacts on the organisation’s performance and revenue generation on the whole.

How Can We Combat This? 

Is it enough to say that well, it’s the employee’s responsibility to manage their stress? Or even think that they’re getting enough breaks from work to focus on their personal lives? We’re sure these answers feel kind of incomplete to you. While you can definitely practice your own stress-management coping strategies, you can only go as far as your professional space allows them to. That being said, if your organisation lends you a helping hand, you can feel an extra boost forward in coping with your stresslaxing habits. And, these measures should touch all aspects of the employee experience to create a wide cushioning net for you to fall back on. 

While things like introducing more yoga and meditation sessions for employees are very helpful techniques to combat stress at work, they are not healing the roots of the issue. That’s like saying cough syrup is the best solution to a dust-allergy-induced cough, when cleaning the dust is evidently the better one. The key here lies in focusing on the work culture of an organisation, which involves everything from the workplace policies, how everyone interacts with each other at work, your relationship with your boss, transparency, feedback processes and so on. 

What every organisation must think is, are my employees coming to a workplace filled with pollen and dust that’s triggering their already-existing allergies? And, implementing solutions like cleaning the dust-filled areas, introducing better filtering systems in the air conditioning, etc, rather than giving them masks to wear. In organisational terms, things like lots of constructive feedback, easier deadlines, reframing feedback processes, and really listening to your employees, all of which goes hand-in-hand with fostering a psychologically safe workplace for them. Along with this, it’s also necessary to include lots of mental health empowerment initiatives, like counselling, digital detox, mindfulness programs and other therapeutic sessions

Having the Know to the How:

It’s one thing for your organisation to have a catalogue of all the things in general they can do to help you compartmentalize work time and relaxation time, and another to have the knowledge they need to realise exactly what you need.  So, how can an organisation know what you need? By asking you guys, the employees themselves.

Collecting your opinions on different aspects of the workplace can be instrumental in building a resource to identify workplace stressors, customize any interventions and ultimately, empower employees. One particular tool that an organisation can use revolves around gauging how happy their employees are in their workplace, and using that knowledge to come up with actionable insights that can really help create a workplace with minimal stresslaxing.

A Final Word..

The moral of the story here is that considering how widespread the phenomenon of Stresslaxing has become, you and your organisation can join hands and help each other out in combating this issue from the root. While it’s important for an organisation to create a workplace that’s conducive to your productivity without taking it too far, it’s equally important for you to proactively support your own mental well-being. Setting boundaries at work, having digital detox periods, switching off completely from work after work hours, and seeking therapy for stress are all things you can do to take care of yourself. On the other hand, your company can assess how happy you are at work in order to understand exactly how they can create a suitable culture for you. 

So, it’s safe to say that when the foundations are strong, so will be the building! When your company's foundation is fortified enough to withstand any workplace challenges, it automatically bolsters its effectiveness on the whole.

As you all know, happy workplaces = happy employees! 😊


Psst! This blog was made with💚 and created after some thought by a real person.#NoGenerativeAI


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