Beating Workplace Stress - A Guide For Small Business Owners

By Kevin Hilton

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You may think that stress is a natural part of the working environment. Maybe. But letting workplace stress get out of control is never good - and it’s scarily common!

A NIOSH report says:

About 40% of workers find their jobs extremely stressful, while 25% look at their jobs as the leading cause of stress

On the other hand, a survey by Stress.org found that:

About 80% of workers are stressed, and almost half of the group said they need help. But what’s worse, many felt like screaming, shouting, or hitting a colleague but didn’t. All because of stress. Some even crossed the line - assaulting and verbally intimidating coworkers.

SMB owners are not exempted. Cash flow problems, customer complaints, underperforming employees, and tight deadlines - all par for the course in small businesses - can spike up one’s stress levels fast.

A semi-annual report by Bank Of America found that 24% of SMB owners have lost sleep and had nightmares about their business failing. About 41% found managing their biz is the most stressful part of their lives, four times more stressful than raising a child.

Whether you’re running a multinational firm or a home-based shop, you can’t let stress rule your world. You need to take the bull by the horns and stop its rampage.

The Solution: Workplace Meditation

Meditation trains the mind to simply acknowledge one’s thoughts without getting absorbed. It may not sound much. But different forms of meditation are designed to help one relax and relieve stress while increasing one’s capacity for prolonged single-pointed concentration.

And the best part:

The touted benefits of meditation are backed by science!

In a study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, researchers found that mindfulness meditation rewires the brain for the better! Specifically, it resulted to greater activity in areas of the brain related to stress-response, focus, and calm.

Previous studies also suggested that meditation can help cultivate emotional intelligence and stability while boosting creativity and willpower.

And if you think only Buddhists meditate, think again. Countless professionals, like CEOs and lawyers, turn to meditation to stay in top mental shape and deliver their best work.

For Alak Vasa, a former trader at Goldman Sachs, meditation allowed her to keep her calm and propose solutions during a market crash.

James Doty, a CEO and a neurosurgeon at Stanford University, credits his mindfulness practice for turning a difficult investor into an ally that helped their company go public with a $1.3 billion valuation.

These high-performing individuals are pressed for time, and one can only imagine the number of demanding situations they face on any given day. They won’t add meditation to their already-packed schedule - unless it’s good for them.

How To Meditate At The Workplace

“But how do I get started?”

The office may not seem like a good place for seeking calm and peace of mind. Coworkers will come knocking. Email notifications and ringing phones may distract you. And urgent work responsibilities may convince you to put meditation in the sidelines.

However, CNN editorial director David Allan thinks otherwise.

“It's hard to fit in meditation or anything else in the busy hum of home, especially with a spouse and children and fewer waking hours to spend with them or on other interests,” Allan said. “The solution for me was to practice at work: the place I'm already going five days a week and where meditation is needed most.”

If you are going to make meditation a force multiplier in and out of the office, you need to turn it to a daily habit.

But the good news:

You only need to meditate for 10 to 15 minutes every day to see positive changes.

To get started, look for space where you can have some alone-time. You may book a meeting room for 30 minutes. Or, if you have a small open workplace, find a barren corner. Put up a divider if you don’t want to attract attention, and put on a pair of noise-cancelling earplugs for good measure.

And lastly, switch off your smartphone. Unless your job description requires attending to emergencies, blocking communication for 20 to 30 minutes won’t cause trouble.

Once you some space and alone-time, start meditating! The nice thing about meditation is that you can make it as simple as possible. You can skip the mantras and chants - unless that’s your thing.

Simply focus on your breath - the passage of air through your nostrils and the expanding and collapsing of the chest.

And even better:

You can find MP3 files for guided meditation on the internet for free.

These audio files are perfect for total beginners, and they’re made for specific purposes. Some guided meditation files help you focus better, build those self-discipline muscles, or relieve stress and promote inner calm - power-ups every business owner can use more of.

Getting The Entire Organization On The Anti-Stress Train

You’ve just learned how meditation can benefit you at a personal level. But what if you can get your employees and coworkers to sit down and reflect with you? Research says that can only be good for the entire organization!

Companies that implement free mindfulness programs reduce employee stress while enjoying increased workplace productivity.

But here’s the tricky part:

Many people still think that meditation is a gimmick. A practice reserved for temple-dwelling monks and new age believers.

If your employees are still holding such opinions, the benefits of meditation may be lost on them.

So should you just drop the idea of running a meditation program for your company?

Nah, your team may not be aware of meditation’s benefits. But you can educate them by starting with the “why’s.” Don’t just blast an email invitation without explaining what’s in it for them. After all, employees already have responsibilities to attend, and they may see the program as a distraction if they don’t know how it benefits them.

Look for a common need among your colleagues and employees, something that meditation can help, and start from there.

Now, you should also pay close attention to the language you use when discussing meditation. Forget about the “oms” and spiritual talk for the time being. Instead, speak like you would in a high-performance work environment.

Focus on the stats and science-backed justifications. And remember to link the program to organizational goals and values.

And last but not the least:

Track your results!

Testimonials and quotes are nice. But convincing the numbers-oriented people in the office require more than just words of praise for your program. One suggestion is to encourage participants to measure their productivity before and after joining the program.

Or, you can run a survey to collect quantitative data to support the cause. In the questionnaire, see how many of the participating employees would recommend the program to their friends. Ask if they experienced positive changes like better decision-making, greater mental fortitude, or reduced stress.

Conclusion

Keeping a workplace 100% stress-free may be impossible. But letting stress affect your well-being and performance is never a good idea. The simple act of settling the mind can calm those strained nerves and recharge those depleted batteries. And you can start today!

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