Three out of four workers have struggled at work due to anxiety caused by Covid-19

(Telus)

Each month approximately 409 million people view a Blog, not quite that many read mine yet!  That’s apparently more than 20 billion pages. And part of the reason may be that over 80 percent of us would prefer robots to humans to connect with when we feel anxious because ‘robots provide a judgment-free zone, an unbiased outlet for people to share their problems with, and quick answers to health-related questions’. (2020 LinkedIn research)

So, we turn to technology for support.

I am not surprised by this.  I see lots of people spending hours distracting themselves with social media and mindless scrolling.  Turning to tech for comfort feels normal.  All of us tend to worry and over think at times and it can be a big ask to actually share that with someone at work.

A recent study by Workplace Intelligence and Oracle has discovered that workers believe that 2020 has been the most stressful year in their history.

Since the beginning of December, I have noticed that more and more people look exhausted.  I look exhausted.  As we crawl towards a break at Christmas many of us are desperate to switch out of work and into life, sleep and perhaps more than a little Christmas cheer.  I see a pattern like this every year but this year the need is without doubt amplified.

Come January one thing always strikes me though.  Each year as we “start afresh” I notice that more and more people have struggled to ‘switch off’ over Christmas.  Their dreams of sofa sprawling and lovely long walks never seem to materialise deeply enough to have matched their expectation.  And so, reading this research about stress I wanted to share a few challenges around the idea of “switching off” as a strategy.  Why?  Because I only ever see it work when the external circumstances at work, in the world, are perfect.  And of course, they are never perfect, and especially not in 2020!

I see in practice the truth of the statement ‘Stress happens when you are in one place and want to be in another’.  Is it really possible for the human brain and heart to cut out a whole aspect of life, perhaps multiple aspects and not think about them at all for one or two weeks?  With all of the stresses, worry, energy and challenge of 2020 I really want to encourage you to challenge your ‘switch off’ strategy.  I see it correlate for most with greater stress.  We feel like we should be switching off and when we can’t we get more stressed.

So, what do we do to cope?  Normally we distract ourselves.  Inc.com share a selection of tips for ‘switching off’;

  1. Identify if you are problem-solving or ruminating (my reaction – I like this one).
  2. Get a hobby (my reaction – switching into something else).
  3. Change your emotional state (my reaction – you can choose to – I know it is hard! But I see the ‘switch off strategy’ increase the emotional state in many of us).
  4. Don’t talk about your problems (my reaction – facing what is occupying you and dealing with it can remove it forever and make you feel more in balance).
  5. Get outside perspective (my reaction – a good moan and someone else’s opinion can add negativity and drama. Inner resilience comes when you know you can and do find your own solutions and it gets things moving forwards.  Positive sharing?  A problem shared is a problem halved).

How about exploring a ‘no switch strategy’?  Removing the line between home and work, removing the stress of needing to ‘switch off’.  A blended approach where work and life live happily together at the same time.  Allowing your mind to wander across both and not just when ‘off work’ but when you are at work too.  I witness masters of stress;

  • Living a blended life where close work colleagues and close friends live in the same world in their minds and energy.
  • Not getting really excited with the highs of work and life and in turn then don’t hang onto and wallow in the lows.
  • Living an optimistic and creative energy, nothing in any aspect of their lives is stagnating.
  • Not worrying that they should be doing one thing when they are doing another. Leading to less self-consciousness and more enjoyment in the moment.

The anxiety and exhaustion are very real for many of us, talking about it can help, ignoring it can help and not working can help.  But real rest and recharge come when we accept where we are and do our absolute best to enjoy that moment.  I hope that you turning to tech for support through this blog brings a fresh perspective.

Be you.