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Stress in the workplace is an all too apparent issue. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) puts the number of working days lost because of work-related ill health and non-fatal injuries at 30.7 million in the year 2017/18.
The cost to the UK economy rose to £18 billion in 2017.
And with employees spending a majority of their time in the workplace, employers need to recognise the need to balance the needs of the business with the needs of their employees.
To address issues relating to stress in the workplace, some experts use psychological flexibility as a fundamental aspect of health and wellbeing.
In this piece, we’ll define psychological flexibility, compare it to resilience and highlight how it can help reduce stress levels in the workplace.
It’s the ability to ‘stay connected’ in the present moment.
Part of the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) model, the goal of psychological flexibility is to give people control over certain areas (including work) by letting go of thoughts, emotions and impulses and instead focusing on the long-term values and objectives.
There’re various aspects to consider for improving employee performance and productivity in the workplace, including:
However, when your staff are not in the right psychological state, it can affect their focus, clarity, motivation, behaviour and approach to responsibilities.
This is where psychological flexibility measures come in. The framework is said to assist employees by helping them to:
While there may be some similarities between psychological flexibility and resilience, it’s important to note they do have their differences.
In relation to stress, while resilience helps employees to withstand and adjust to changing situations, psychological flexibility like the name suggests promotes the adaptability of emotions and thoughts.
The aim is to stay in the present, choose the appropriate behaviour for a specific situation, and in the process reduce stress. Employees can achieve this by practising some psychological flexibility exercises.
As behaviour, emotions, thoughts and feelings all relate to the brain, the purpose of these exercises is to keep it emotionally fit and mentally sharp.
The first step in mental flexibility involves stepping out of your comfort zone. As humans, our default setting is to stick to familiar behaviours, patterns and habits.
While it’s convenient and comfortable, it’s not doing our brains any favours. Just like our physical body needs to be pushed to get stronger, our brains need to be challenged to build flexibility.
Other exercises for maintaining flexibility psychologically include:
If you’d like any more guidance on how to encouraging open communication in the workplace, get in touch with Health Assured today on 0844 892 2493.
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