- Reduce Your Work Stress & Burnout Risk Using ACT!
Do you know someone in a high stress job, with difficult hours, systems, customers, colleagues and red tape?
These challenges mean that anyone can be susceptible to burnout, so is there anything we can do to help you to help yourself to lower their stress levels?
As accredited members of The Stress Management Society and Mental Health professionals we can help you to help yourself, to help others. One of the key parts of stress are the psychological effects of working with difficult clients, customers, friends, work colleagues and even family. In particular “stigmatising attitudes” are particularly difficult for those suffering from mental health or addiction issues. If we could decrease these psychological effects for individuals in the work place we could also decrease their stress, and degrees of burnout, resulting in increased performance and motivation.
There has been a number of evidence-based studies comparing the impact of ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy), in using the model in executive coaching and training for work life balance, burnout and stigmatizing attitudes amongst employees and executives.
The ACT intervention significantly reduced stress with one on one follow-up sessions and burnout through group work and seminars. In addition, reductions in sick leave, absenteeism and poor performance significantly exceeded those attained ACT training and coaching.
Studies have showed, amongst those significantly stressed, ACT significantly decreased levels of stress and burnout, and increased general mental health compared to a waiting list control.
The specific ACT intervention the study used was six 2-hour group sessions. The intervention included information about stress and relevant lifestyle factors (e.g. work-life balance, sleep, and exercise), behaviour change strategies, communication and assertiveness skills, and training in ACT techniques for managing stressful thoughts and feelings, values clarification, and mindfulness practice.
In short, the just 12 total hours of intervention covered:
-information about stress, sleep, exercise, behaviour change strategies in communication and assertiveness. ACT skills defusion, acceptance, values focus and mindfulness.
Here are some stress tips that we use.
Keep in mind that stress isn’t a bad thing.
Stress motivates us to work toward solving our problems. Reframing thoughts to view stress as an acceptable emotion, or as a tool, has been found to reduce many of the negative symptoms associated with it. The goal is to manage stress, not to eliminate it.
Talk about your problems, even if they won’t be solved.
Talking about your stressors—even if you don’t solve them—releases hormones in your body that reduce the negative feelings associated with stress. Time spent talking with friends and loved ones is valuable, even when you have a lot on your plate.
Prioritize your responsibilities.
Focus on completing quick tasks first. Having too many “to-dos” can be stressful, even if none of them are very big. Quickly knocking out the small tasks will clear up your mind to focus on larger responsibilities.
Focus on the basics.
Stress can start a harmful cycle where basic needs are neglected, which leads to more stress. Make a point to focus on your basic needs, such as eating well, keeping a healthy sleep schedule, exercising, and other forms of self-care.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
People who are overinvolved in one aspect of their life often struggle to deal with stress when that area is threatened. Balance your time and energy between several areas, such as your career, family, friendships, and personal hobbies.
Set aside time for yourself.
Personal time usually gets moved to the bottom of the list when things get hectic.
However, when personal time is neglected, everything else tends to suffer. Set aside
time to relax and have fun every day, without interruptions.
Keep things in perspective.
In the heat of the moment, little problems can feel bigger than they are. Take a step back, and think about how important your stressors are in a broader context. Will they matter in a week? In a year? Writing about your stressors will help you develop a healthier perspective.