Using the Breath to Decrease Stress and Increase Productivity in the Corporate World

Are your employees
stressed out? Do they lack productivity? The American Institute of Stress
reports that job-related stress is one of the leading causes of stress for American
adults, costing over $300 billion annually to employers. Additionally, it
results in diminished productivity, employee turnover, direct medical,
insurance costs, legal costs, absenteeism and worker’s compensation claims.

In Dying
for a Paycheck
, Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor of organizational
behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business, explains how the stress from
long work hours, work-family conflict, and lack of good health insurance are
killing people. A large fraction of health care costs in the developed world,
some estimate up to 75%, is from chronic diseases. There are a growing number
of studies that suggest these chronic diseases 
(i.e. cardiovascular issues, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome) along
with poor health choices such as overeating and drug and alcohol abuse, are
caused by stress.  In a 2012 survey, 21%
of employees reported stress as the main source of errors and missed deadlines
at work; 15.5% had difficulty getting along with colleagues; 14.9% missed days
at work; and 14.4% said stress made them late.

A recent study including
over 2,000 volunteers from the famed Framingham Heart Study found that
participants with the highest levels of the stress related hormone cortisol
performed worst on tests of memory, organization, visual perception, and
attention.  They also found physical
changes in the brain related to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.  Sadly, the majority of the participants were
only in their 40s.

“Before you can take control of your mind, you must first calm it down. The fastest way to calm your mind, along with your body, is through slow and controlled deep breathing.”  Mark Devine, Navy Seal and CEO of SealFit

Training your employees to combat stress and increase
productivity

One piece of low hanging
fruit to combat detrimental stress is to become aware of your breathing. Dr.
Leon Chaitow goes into great detail in his book, Recognizing
and Treating Breathing Disorders
, about how breathing influences
every system in your body. Dysfunctional Breathing Patterns (“DBP”), (i.e.
breathing into the upper-chest, mainly with the mouth, and not activating the
diaphragm) is associated with the body’s stress response, resulting in a
chronically stressed state. DBPs are associated with issues such as anxiety,
asthma, insomnia, and cardiovascular issues. Learning proper breathing can add
tremendous benefits to your bottom line and your employee’s day-to-day lives. When
we learn to breathe properly, (through the nose, activating our diaphragm), it
will put our nervous system in the parasympathetic state, allowing us to rest,
relax, and digest. This allows our bodies to get out of the stressful state,
lowers our heart rate, improves cognitive function, and increases creativity.

Not only islearning how to breathe properly important for you and your employees, beginninga conscious breathing practice is extremely important.  Learning to access your breath will allow youto change your mental state.  It willallow you to go from tense and stressed out to calm and relaxed.  It can give you the time to step back fromthe problem at hand and allow you to look at it with fresh eyes. 

A
simple technique that I teach to my clients is called “box-breathing.” The
breath has four components, an inhale, a hold, an exhale, and a hold. With box-breathing,
we keep an equal ratio for each part. Start with inhaling through the nose for
three seconds, hold for three, exhale through the nose for three, hold for
three and repeat. In as little as five minutes your body and mind are in a much
more relaxed and alert state.

To Sum it Up

Stress
is a major problem in the workplace and successful leaders recognize that
always pushing your team to work harder and harder is not the best way to move forward
in today’s environment.  You and your
employees must have the energy to turn it on when the time comes or when faced
with stressful situations and complex issues. 
Your team must also have the ability to manage their reactions and
stress responses in this increasingly complex world we live in. Conscious
breathing is a powerful tool that can help you thrive in uncertainty; work
through complex issues, problem solving, and mange the constant pressures of
today’s corporate environment.  It will
not only give your team the space to respond instead of react to stressful
situations but it will also improve their overall well-being.

Call To Action

As research shows, job-related stress is costing
companies billions of dollars and killing employees.  What kind of workplace do you want for your
employees?  By using simple and effective
tools I can help you combat this stress for yourself and improve the well-being
of your employees.  If you would like to learn more, check out my website www.symmetry.live to learn more about how I can help change your relationship with
stress.

19 Comments

Add a Comment
  1. OK well noted

  2. Few of them do this…

  3. well it’s nice that common

  4. We are always advised at some point to take a deep breath.
    I do that most times when am stressed or angry.
    This is a good research and result.

  5. Yes we understand

  6. I love this good information

  7. Very effective…ad easy too

  8. This is a good information

  9. Stress is bad

  10. nice one will try it

  11. Thai is a nice one…..its really effective and easy….

  12. Stress os very bad and it can kill

  13. Stress is bad but we have to endure it

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