Leaders Should Use Mindfulness Techniques to Control and Reduce Their Own Stress
In our previous blog post on The Costly Impact of Workplace Stress, we shared with you that workplace stress is costing U.S. employers over $500B annually. Yes, 500 billion dollars goes down the drain each year due to workplace stress. If that’s not a leadership issue, I don’t know what is.
No wonder Generation X was identified by the American Psychological Association as the most stressed generation in America. They now form the bulk of the workforce, and thus are experiencing the kinds of workplace stress cited in numerous statistics from the American Institute of Stress we listed in the previous post. This is why managing the stress of others is so stressful for leaders.
We all know that being close to someone who is in a foul mood can result in our own disposition souring. And leaders know all too well that their own negative dispositions and moods can directly and indirectly impact direct reports, team members, and colleagues. We are now learning that the same may be true for stress.
A study published in Nature Neuroscience showed that stress may be contagious and that even the effect of stress on the brain may be transferable to others. While this study was conducted on mice, what is initially proven in mice is often later confirmed in human beings.
In this study, mice were exposed to mild stress and then returned to their partner. The most remarkable result of this experiment was that the neurons in the mice not exposed to the stress were altered in the exact same way as their partners who had been exposed.
While again this has not been scientifically proven in humans, leaders would be well advised to use mindfulness techniques to control and reduce their own stress, rather than exposing their stressful states to others in the workplace.
This article is partially excerpted from my award-winning book Better Decisions Better Thinking Better Outcomes: How to go from Mind Full to Mindful Leadership, available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. The book is the recipient of a Silver Award from the Nonfiction Authors Association for bringing “a comprehensive plan of action for improving life through recognizing decision-making patterns that don’t serve us well, don’t enrich our lives, and don’t bring us to our goals and dreams.”