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Stress Is No Laughing Matter

Written by: Dr. Troy Hall, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Dr. Troy Hall

Have you ever tried Laughter Yoga? I had no idea it was a thing. The last time I did yoga it was a laughing matter. My downward dog was more like a crippled hyena.

Woman standing in front of mirror doing yoga

Laughter yoga is a legit method of unprovoked laughter combined with yoga breathing exercises.

The science behind laughing is its ability to increase breathing, relax muscles, and even contribute to strengthening mental function and capability. According to an article published in the National Library of Medicine, laughter helps reduce the levels of stress hormones, the potential for burnout, depression, and anxiety.

Yet, the sounds of laughter or the lack thereof may be a tall-tell sign of the degree of stress being felt by an individual or the organization as a whole.

Laughter = stress-free sounds

If you are laughing in your work environment, you may be less stressed than those who shy away from that occasional knee-slapping belly laugh. The American Institute of Stress reported that 80% of Americans are experiencing increased anxiety as the new year begins. This heightened level of stress at the start of a New Year is attributed to performance expectations, unfinished projects, and a barrage of rescheduled meetings.

Furthermore, the Department of Labor has identified stress as a significant concern, with two-thirds of workers citing stress as either very or somewhat significant in their lives.

What can be done about these high-stress levels?

Creating laughter-filled workspaces can decrease stress levels, but if humor is used, it must be tasteful and appropriate. Finding effective ways to manage stress and foster cohesion within teams helps maintain employee well-being, productivity, and employee retention. 

Navigating workplace challenges is possible when insights from stress management habits and the strategic elements of cohesion (belonging, value, and commitment) are combined to combat disengagement and burnout. Work-related stress is a pervasive issue affecting a majority of the American workforce. Research released by the U.S. Department of Labor highlighted that 83% of employees feel stressed at work. AND 54% of workers say those work-related stresses carry over into their home life.

What triggers stress?

The first step in managing stress effectively is understanding its main triggers. Consider a scenario where an individual’s inherent disposition is characterized by qualities such as being pioneering, assertive, confident, and positive. However, when subjected to stress, the person undergoes a transformation, displaying traits like being demanding, aggressive, abrasive, and controlling.

It’s crucial to distinguish between stress triggers and the subsequent reactions. Factors that can induce stress include being overworked, feeling underappreciated, or operating under unrealistic expectations.

Becoming aware of stress triggers provides an opportunity to combat stress BEFORE it becomes problematic. 

What are some common symptoms of stress?

Everyone reacts to stress differently. While some become frantic and upset, others become withdrawn and sluggish. Symptoms can present physically - frequent headaches, muscle tension, heart palpitations, upset stomach, and sleep dysfunction – or emotionally – increased anxiety, mood swings, difficulty calming down, or feeling restless – or cognitively – difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts, forgetfulness, or pessimism – or behaviorally – increased use of alcohol, changes in eating habits, withdrawal from social activities, or procrastinating.

Stress not only affects individual performance but also influences interpersonal dynamics, potentially eroding trust and collaboration among team members. Individuals can have difficulty communicating with co-workers and leaders. They can withdraw from connections that were previously strong. These symptoms can lead to increased arguments and disagreements among team members.

Additionally, it's essential to recognize that effective stress management demands a significant investment of energy drawn from one's Emotional Intelligence (EI). Nurturing EI involves self-management, practicing self-regard, and self-correction, along with cultivating social awareness and adapting behavior in social settings.

Seven stress-reducing habits for daily practice

  1. Hug someone before you go to work or hug them when you come home. You can hug a loved one or a pet. Why? Because hugging releases oxytocin, a natural way to lower anxiety.

  2. Meditate for 5 minutes every day. Meditation is renowned for its stress-relieving effects. It helps activate the body’s relaxation response, reducing the production of stress hormones, and promoting a sense of calm.

  3. Focus on breathing. Breathing techniques can enhance your ability to manage stress and promote a sense of calmness and relaxation. Remember to breathe naturally and comfortably, adapting the techniques to suit your own pace and comfort level.

  4. Take a 20-minute walk with a trusted companion. Engage in silent contemplation for the initial 10 minutes, allowing the conversation to unfold organically. This is a moment for an unhurried connection, not a time for updates.

  5. Establish boundaries through self-discipline. Opt to relocate your electronic devices to another space. Remain fully present with those in your immediate surroundings. Regulate your screen time to establish healthy limits. 

  6. Take a momentary pause and allow yourself time to respond. Grant permission to postpone reactions that might be impulsive if not given the chance for a break in the heat of the moment.

  7. Reset when you get home. Change your clothes after work. Do this even if your workspace is at home and you are wearing comfy clothes. Changing your clothes is a simple and easy method of separating when the workday ends and your home life begins.

Explore these techniques and adopt ones that resonate best with personal preferences and lifestyles. Many successful folks tout the benefits of these techniques. Steve Jobs, Paul McCartney, Emma Chamberlain, and Bill Gates all meditate regularly. Oprah Winfrey focuses on breathing. Susan Wojicki, former YouTube CEO, takes time off to gather her insights before making a big decision. 

For more on reprogramming your mind and building better habits, read Back After Burnout. If you would like to purchase a copy of Back After Burnout, co-authored by Dennis Consorte and Dr. Troy Hall, click here.

Stress should not be part of your daily life

As a leader, it’s even more important to get your stress in order so you don’t stress out your team.

As we navigate the unending cycle of stress that often accompanies each New Year, it becomes imperative to equip ourselves with effective strategies for managing the demands of the modern workplace. 

In a world where stress has become a pervasive companion, affecting both professional and personal spheres, the importance of identifying stress triggers and recognizing its various manifestations cannot be overstated. By understanding the intricacies of stress, individuals gain the ability to preemptively address its root causes, ensuring a proactive approach to maintaining overall well-being. Here's to a New Year marked not only by the passing of time but by the intentional pursuit of resilience, balance, and workplace environments that empower and uplift and make us chuckle.

For more insights into how cohesion positively impacts culture, performance, and engagement, you are invited to download complimentary copies of the electronic and audio versions of my bestselling title, Cohesion Culture: Proven Principles to Retain Your Top Talent.

Follow me on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and you can learn more about my services on my website. I also write a blog, and a bi-weekly newsletter that readers can subscribe to on LinkedIn by clicking here.

Dr. Troy Hall Brainz Magazine

Dr. Troy Hall, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Recognized as a top business leader by ValiantCEO magazine and featured on The Today Show, ABC, the Global BV-TV Network, Beyond the Business Radio Show, and CEO World, Dr. Troy Hall is an award-winning talent retention consultant, international speaker, and author of the bestselling titles: Cohesion Culture: Proven Principles to Retain Your Top Talent, Fanny Rules: A Mother’s Leadership Lessons That Never Grow Old, and Back After Burnout.

As the founder of Cohesion Culture™, Dr. Troy has dedicated his career to establishing a cycle of culture wellness in the corporate and professional sphere. His consulting and executive coaching engagements are built on the strategic framework of Cohesion Culture™, making the concepts of belonging, value, and commitment easy for organizations to adopt and implement.



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