Stress management strategies for workplace wellbeing

Organisations may integrate stress-reducing into their strategies to address the impact of the stress cycle on employee health.
By: | April 18, 2024

Managing stress is vital for employee health and productivity. Chronic stress can lead to serious health issues and impact organisational performance. Hence, understanding the stress cycle and adopting effective strategies are key to promoting wellbeing among employees.

In an article on The Conversation, Theresa Larkin, Associate Professor of Medical Sciences at the University of Wollongong; and Susan J. Thomas, Associate Professor in Mental Health and Behavioural Science at the University of Wollongong; explained that the stress cycle involves perceiving a threat, triggering a fight-or-flight response with stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, and achieving relief through physiological and psychological processes. Failure to complete this cycle can lead to chronic stress and health problems.

To address these challenges, they recommended five types of activities that can help the brain to complete the stress cycle. First, they suggested regular exercise, as regular physical activity reduces stress hormones and boosts mood-enhancing chemicals like endorphins and serotonin. Secondly, cognitive activities like journalling or cognitive-behavioural techniques can reduce stress response and promote realistic perspectives.

Next, providing opportunities for creative outlets helps engage the prefrontal cortex, fostering and reducing stress levels. For instance, activities like art or music encourage a state of flow, where stressors are set aside. Promoting social connections is another approach as it stimulates oxytocin release, enhances bonding, and thus reduces stress. Laughter, according to the researchers, is a valuable stress-relieving social activity.

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Lastly, breathing exercises and meditation stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, aiding in stress reduction and emotional regulation. A good cry can help too by releasing stress energy and increasing oxytocin and endorphins, they added, as emotional tears remove cortisol and the hormone prolactin from the body.