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We all know that chronic stress in the workplace isn’t good for us, but staying away from it isn’t realistic with today’s high expectations.According to Shlomo Breznitz, cognitive psychologist and author of Maximum Brainpower: Challenging the Brain for Health and Wisdom
, healthcare costs for stressed workers are 46 per cent more expensive than workers who don’t deal with chronic stress. This adds up to an estimated $600 more per person.
And “multitaskers face the greatest stress threat, as the constant effort to switch tasks hampers the formation of short-term memory.”
Instead, it’s healthier for workers to focus on completing each task before jumping to the next one.
“Stress has gotten worse because people are working longer hours and because the intensity of the work has increased,” Breznitz tells us. “Hours were increasing even before the economic downturn. Now companies are asking people to do their jobs plus work that used to be done by others.”
“The trouble with business today is that people are constantly interrupting themselves with distracting digital messages. Used correctly, digital devices can speed up work and make it easier, but taken too far they simply add to the workload, keeping employees working 24-seven.”
But despite longer hours, workers in recent years are confusing working harder with working smarter.
“They want their people to be creative and self-starting, [and] they’re burdening them with a mind-numbing workload that precludes the freshness of mind required for creativity. We can’t think hard and think smart all the time. That’s exactly what causes burnout.”
“We need energy and interaction. We need hard problems to engage the brain. The essence is to be as conscious of training our minds for peak performance as we are of training our bodies for the Olympics. You have to train hard, but if you over-train you’ll kill yourself and get poor results. True for the body, true for the brain.”
Breznitz says the brain cannot biologically do two things at the same time, and this causes high stress. Since we cannot process all of this information, but still try, this is why we are constantly relearning the same materials, which is inefficient and costly to your business.
To solve all of this, Breznitz suggests:
“Give yourself time to get organised each day. Handle your digital messages at set times — don’t let them run your life. Get away from the office for a while each day. Talk to someone about non-work matters or read a non-work article.”
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