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To kick off the year the right way, Brandwave’s UK office took part in a workplace wellness event at LANO Yoga in Chichester with Sweaty Betty Ambassador Jen Kott.

Wellness is a hot topic, and not just in the health and fitness arena, with more companies than ever trying to help improve staff health. Wellbeing is well and truly moving into the work place.

Along with some relaxing yoga practice, we got to understand exactly what stress is, and how it affects wellbeing and our productivity.

The Facts

So, what did we learn?

Stress is natural. Stress is a psychological interpretation (the pressure we perceive from the environment that we’re in and how we think we’ll be able to cope) which leads to a physiological reaction (we feel stressed, our heart rate increases, we have irrational thoughts).

Human evolution has not yet caught up with the environmental evolution. Modern day stress is mostly psychological, unlike our ancestors who experienced much more physical stress like being attacked by a sabre-tooth tiger. Our body is still responding as it would to the physical stress but in an office environment.

Stress has a direct effect on our wellbeing and in turn, productivity levels. Physical and mental wellbeing both play a part in how effective we are at work. When we’re stressed this has a cognitive impact; we’re easily distracted, lack confidence, get frustrated and have negative thoughts. You are more creative and productive when calm. We can see things clearly, focus and act logically.

Busy people are not the most productive people. Stress can often be seen as a badge of honour that proves we must be working really hard. The reality is stress lowers productivity, it’s the people who are happy in their work who get the most done.

The Solution

So, what can we do about it? How can we combat stress and increase our productivity in the workplace?

Recognise stress is natural but remediable. Take comfort in knowing what your body is doing is natural, but you have control, you can implement tools to reduce the symptoms of stress.

Stress is what we perceive it to be. Take a step back and consider how stressful something needs to be. You are in control over how you feel and how much you let a situation affect you.

Move more and get outside. It is possible to stay mobile, even in a desk job. Take time to stand up, do some desk/chair exercises and get outside. Evidence shows that being out in the natural environment has an immediate positive effect on our stress levels. Go for a walking meeting, take 10 minutes to get some refreshing air. Importantly, integrate this into your weekly routine. Make it something you do every day at a certain time.

Be preventative, rather than reactive. When we get stressed, we can use techniques to help combat this; breathing techniques, stepping away from your desk, going for a walk. But to prevent getting to a high level of stress which in turn makes us unproductive, implement long-term changes to your routine. Manage your time effectively, take time to meditate each morning and approach the day with a clear, energised mind or take up a weekly yoga class.

Exercise is only a short-term re-active solution. When we exercise, this will make us feel better and less stressed; with a release of endorphins, we feel strong, powerful and more confident. But, we will go home, wake up the next morning and stress will still be there. Combating stress needs to be acknowledged as an on-going change in lifestyle.

Our time at LANO yoga was a great experience for the team. It’s helped to break down the perception that stress is just part of life and that “we need to just get on with it.” It was a real reminder about the importance of taking time out to focus on ourselves and that this should be a number one priority. This will help us to not only produce our best work but importantly, live a healthy, happy life whilst doing it!

Natasha Clarke