8 tips to maintain mental clarity when instability swirls in the workplace

As 2022 draws to a close, we look back on a year of instability and uncertainty. The remote work debate, the Great Resignation, silent abandonment, productivity paranoia, and boomerang employees were just one part of the shaky workplace. In addition to inflation and economic fears of a recession, there is bound to be a knock-on effect in 2023. Another thing we know for sure is that the stress of increased insecurities and uncertainties in the workplace cloud mental clarity and truncate employee engagement. employees, productivity and the company. bottom line.

A poll A study by the American Psychological Association suggests that Americans are in “survival mode” due to reports of high stress levels caused by inflation, pandemic recovery, and the war in Ukraine. Given these stressors, it is critical for companies to reflect on supporting employees and managing stress at work. Managing this overwhelming feeling of uncertainty from the recession along with daily tasks can lead to difficulty concentrating and brain fog, even burnout.

Work stress reduces mental clarity

“Crisis situations create huge amounts of stress and high levels of pressure,” according to Bryan Adams, CEO and founder of Ph.Creative. “These situations can also double an already exhausting workload by adding crisis management to the requirements of a day job.” Research shows that crisis work situations (such as an abusive boss, sexual harassment, a harassing co-worker, fear of reprimands from management, or a work culture that thrives on crisis, chaos, and pressure) can cause structural change in brain circuits, such as brain atrophy. mass and decreased weight of the brain leading to long-term damage to the nervous system.

The prolonged cortisol levels that accompany chronic stress also damage the brain’s hippocampus, causing long-term memory loss and damage to the brain’s prefrontal cortex necessary for focused attention and executive functioning. Other changes include increases in anxiety, mood disorders, and decreases in cognitive flexibility. Studies they also show that chronic stress may even increase the risk of degenerative brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. In a healthy brain and in the short term, these changes are reversible, but in the long term brain damage can persist.

How to maintain mental clarity during the workday

Dr. Christopher Taylor, author of My Digital Practice and founder of Taylor Counseling Group offers eight tips on how you can develop a positive attitude and clearer mind at work:

  • Develop a routine. Never underestimate the power of a good routine, one with small positive habits that can make big changes over time and contribute to a healthy and happy life. For example, wake up 30 minutes earlier to get started and eliminate morning stress. Take micro-breaks throughout the workday and get out into nature for a few minutes. Use sticky notes around your desk for affirmations or reminders, such as “Remember to breathe” or “Remember to unclench your jaw, shoulders, and fists.”
  • Set limits. One of the most challenging obstacles that the work-from-home trend has created is the blurred line between work and home life. Working professionals should set firm boundaries indicating when work time begins and ends. To foster a productive work environment, create a designated work space in your home where you can focus. As soon as work is done, leave your work space behind and find a place of leisure or relaxation.
  • Practice self care. As human beings, we often forget to nurture our own mental, emotional, and physical health. Incorporate mindfulness meditation into your day. Try to adopt a healthy sleep schedule, eat nutritious meals and healthy snacks during the workday, stay hydrated, write in a journal, and maintain a good support network. Don’t forget to make time for your favorite hobbies and activities that bring you joy.
  • Exercise. There is an undeniable link between physical activity and emotional health. Even if you don’t have a regular exercise routine, you can incorporate some level of physical activity into your life, like stretching at your desk. Exercise is an antidepressant and improves your motivation and energy. You can choose to go for a daily walk, walk through a local state park, or stroll through a botanical garden.
  • Use deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing can help relieve anxiety. When you become anxious, your body has a stress response that results in symptoms such as short, shallow breaths, muscle tension, and increased heart rate. By breathing slowly and deeply, you can increase your brain’s oxygen supply, which allows your nervous system to send more calming signals throughout your body. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to feel emotionally relaxed if your body is stuck in a state of stress, so deep breathing is a great place to start when you’re feeling anxious.
  • Practice gratitude. When the focus is on gratitude, you find that what you are grateful for will grow. Put a pad of paper and a pen by your bed every night; you can also use the grateful app on your phone. When you wake up, write down three things you are grateful for before you start your day.
  • Direct your energy towards something positive. Donate to a cause, march for an organization, or get together with friends to promote something you care about.
  • Find a great therapist. Look for a therapist who offers personalized attention. Find someone who makes you feel comfortable, safe and supported in a non-judgmental environment.

one final word

In addition to the eight tips, it is important to be attentive to your state of mind that can obscure the clarity of mental work. Work stress often traps us in extreme points of view, and we don’t realize it. When we use words like always, all, all, nobody, never, none, it’s a sign that all-or-nothing stress statements have hijacked us, blinding us to limitless possibilities. Mental clarity does not come gift wrapped in black and white. It’s nestled in the shades of gray, that point somewhere in between the extremes, aka the middle path. “I have to be perfect at my job (everything) or I won’t do it at all” (none) becomes “I can be good at my job and still take risks and learn from mistakes.” Keeping your antenna up helps you recognize when you’re stuck, giving you the awareness to find yourself in the middle and increasing your engagement, performance, and productivity.

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