How To Relieve Work-Related Stress & Become A Happy & Healthy Employee

The dichotomy of man has made us bound with the conditions of life, that we need to keep up with targets and deadlines in order to make money to live and have nice things and ascend from basic survival, which is also, by the way, a path towards enlightenment. This is the way the world works, and we are fine with that.

Yet the costs of being a workaholic might not let us make it that far. Whatever is your line of work, it is easy to get carried away and lose the balance between dedication and hypertension.

According to WHO, stress related illness in America costs $300 billion in healthcare, nearly half of which ($130 billion) is spent on alleviating and managing the symptoms of hypertension, a condition that is suffered by 70 million Americans. And if that is not alarming enough, the CDC estimates that 75% of American healthcare budget is spent on treating those preventable diseases, with two-thirds of doctor visits caused by stress-related conditions.

How stress-related illness got trendy in America is beyond me, but $300 billion is a ridiculous amount of money to treat a preventable disease, especially because the annual revenue for Yoga businesses, for instance, is as low as $7 billion in 2013. Which demonstrates clearly enough in terms of dollar and dimes, that treating illness is so much more expensive than preventing it by attending yoga classes.

It also shows that man can be rather obtuse since these facts on the dangers of stress are not new. We have known about the benefits of stress management for generations and counting, yet the norm still refuses to change. The norm is actually more likely to be getting worse since the population is increasing by the minute and that the yoga business industry is only growing at 1.3% a year.

Safeway, a major chain store with about 200 thousand employees to insure, foresaw what a huge cut it would suffer in profits if they had all gotten sick. By 2005, Safeway was already paying a billion dollars annually on its employees' healthcare, at a growing rate of $100 thousand a year. So Safeway developed a program to encourage their people to take care of themselves. The general hook to this line of program was: “How about if we pay you to watch your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and be healthy for a change?”

Whether or not the incentive program is doing what it is supposed to do for Safeway's revenues, Safeway is already reaping benefits from having health-conscious working environment. When people got healthier, they were able to stay productive longer, and reported less absenteeism in addition to a more sustainable working environment. Ultimately, all these improvements created sense of work and personal life satisfaction.

Healthy people tend to be happier, so much that it is biologically measurable. And these measurements extend as far as hypertension and glucose levels, but also in longevity and causes of death. A longitudinal study on 202 individuals, all of whom were in early stages of hypertension compared the death rates between those who practiced meditation and those who did not. The meditation group showed 30% of decrease in cardiovascular problems, and a whopping 49% drop in deaths cause by cancer. In simple terms, people who meditate live better and longer.

Since changing the mind dramatically changes the way our bodies react, then it makes it even more important to build a positive mind frame and be wary of the causes of stress about our daily functions. Likewise, since any activity that is practised long enough becomes meditative, then there should be a way that we can mold the necessities of keeping a job into a healthy and satisfying lifestyle.

One of the cheapest and most sustainable ways of becoming healthier is through mindfulness exercises like meditation. A happy employee is more profitable to any business than one who is stressed, even if not all of them are happy at the same time. In a company with a thousand employees, increasing happiness drops the employee turnover rates to 46%, improves their performance and creativity by 12% and keeps them focused 40% and energized 65% longer compared to those who are not as happy.

(Also, emotions are contagious. Even the unhappiest employee can reap some benefits from being around happy people in alleviating their blues.)

Another study showed that a group of employees who went through mindfulness training program for 8 weeks, reported an increased sense of purpose and belonging in their work environment, in addition to decreased illness symptoms, such as headaches, chest pain and weakness.

What more, these numbers disregard the type of job positions the employees hold. For employees in lower level positions, it is not about more money that would improve the quality of their daily lives, it is actually in the ability to find meaningful connection in what they do and with the people they work and share a major bulk of their lives.

Even among managerial position, the benefits of mental clarity and mindful practices are piqued. Wherever relative multitasking and careful decision making are part of the job requirements, employees who meditate developed a more resilient endurance and increased concentration, while reporting less negativity and stress in doing their work. Not to mention indications of better memory and creativity.

A classic example of this is in the story of U Ba Khin, the Vipassana meditation teacher of S.N. Goenka. During the last twenty years of governmental service, U Ba Khin was employed in various positions, oftentimes in more than two offices. At one time he served as the head of three departments for three years, and once as head of four departments for a year. Considering that the test in his multitasking abilities and productive endurance occurred around his fifties, around the time when age-related diseases usually become symptomatic, one cannot help but wonder how far meditation has had its effect on his job performance and general life's vitality.

Sources

- 70 million Americans with hypertension costs $131 billion in healthcare

- 300 Billion Health Care

- Yoga Annual Revenue

- Safeway Healthcare Costs

- Long-Term Effects of Stress Reduction on Mortality in Persons >=55 Years of Age With Systemic Hypertension

- Work Happiness Studies

- 8 weeks mindfulness training

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