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Work-life balance begins with reducing stress

In Insight and Experience by LivingNowLeave a Comment

The problem with much of modern psychology is that it tries to save us from, or manage, the negative habitual ways of thinking and behaving that we use to avoid intense emotions, such as stress. It’s not until we slow down enough to reflect on why we say or do whatever it is we are saying or doing, that we can realise that these habit patterns are actually serving an emotional purpose which lays hidden from us.

When we get stuck in our heads — analysing, categorising, judging, worrying or caught up in thinking of the past or the future over and over — we are actually creating stress. When we get out of touch with our reactions to friends and family, managers or staff, our suppliers or customers, or what’s really going on around us, we get out of our centre of being, we lose our sense of self, our personal boundaries and lose the freedom to choose our reactions in any given situation.

This is critically important to our enjoyment of life, our sense of self-worth, our job satisfaction, our health and well-being because by restoring our freedom to choose our emotional reactions in any given situation, we restore our ability to have joy and happiness in our lives. For example, are we going to get angry in a particular situation or are we going to simply laugh it off? In other words, are we going to keep getting it, until we ‘get’ it?

By developing our self-awareness, we are able to understand ourselves better leading to a greater understanding of other people — our managers, our work colleagues, our suppliers and our customers. Understanding others better, leads to clear communication. It leads to dealing with the real problem (as opposed to the apparent problem), by giving that problem, its correct name. This then leads to less confusion and fewer arguments or conflicts.

Greater self-awareness leads to the difference between being unreasonable and being reasonable. It leads to the difference between being assertive, on the one hand, and being either non-assertive or aggressive, on the other hand. It leads to the difference between being a ‘do-gooder’ and doing real good.

By developing any of the stress reduction techniques on a regular basis, when we find ourselves becoming stressed the techniques will automatically cut in and act as a ‘circuit-breaker’ by keeping a steady flow of oxygen to the brain and providing the presence of mind for us to say or do whatever needs to be said or done in the given situation.

These techniques include developing the relaxation response (as opposed to the fight or flight syndrome) by focusing our awareness on breathing and counting, centering, yoga, tai-chi or even meditation itself.

By developing simple-to-do stress reduction and/or centering techniques, which focus our mind on our breathing, we create the presence of mind which:

  • Reduces stress, anxiety and/or depression
  • Acts as a ‘circuit-breaker’ of habitual emotional reactions creating greater workplace harmony by dissipating anger and easing fears
  • Improves our concentration and memory in the performance of work tasks
  • Lowers the incidence of on-the-job accidents and/or injuries
  • Increases our physical flexibility, muscle tone and blood circulation, creating a healthier workforce and fewer absences through sickness
  • Induces more restful and uninterrupted sleep, leading to healthier, happier staff (remembering that happy staff make for happy customers)
  • Diminishes the need for the use of addictive substances such as drugs, nicotine, alcohol and caffeine, leading to improved focus, more effective work practices and healthier management and staff
  • Improves the self-esteem and self-worth of management and staff – so we feel less threatened, more fulfilled, and are less inclined to hold fast to self-destructive beliefs or engage in sabotaging our work colleagues, the production process or the organisation itself
  • Enhances the readiness of management and staff to think outside the box (also known as the Lateral Thinking Process) by seeing the interconnectedness between all things
  • By engaging the Lateral Thinking Process, provides truly creative solutions to problems of financing, producing, distributing and exchanging goods and services
  • These solutions lead to a more cost-effective employment of staff and use of inputs, increased output, and hence, higher profitability

Generally speaking, all these benefits lead to a greater presence of mind, more joy and happiness, more harmonious relationships and better health, as they all lead to a higher level of self-awareness.

After all, all awareness starts with the self.


Tovah is a meditator, transpersonal psychology expert and inspirational speaker who has delivered classes since 1998. He is author of ‘The Meaning of It All’ and is based in Melbourne.

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