It’s understandable that the majority of workers are feeling stressed with the COVID-19 outbreak, slowing economy, scarce supplies, and now the recent earthquake in Utah. As a result, we have seen an increase in workplace injuries among Helpside clients.
From our experience, there is a very strong correlation between stress/distractions and workplace accidents. Our bodies physiology is designed to cope with threatening emotional situations. Therese Mascardo, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist, states, “When we’re experiencing a threatening emotional situation, our brain’s survival systems kick into high gear. Instead of thinking from the rational, logical frontal lobes of our brain, the survival-based amygdala can take over and make everything feel like life or death.”
She also noted that “our bodies are designed to get our attention and help us deal with what we need to address. If we don’t slow down and pay attention to those cues, our bodies will eventually slow us down and force the issue.”
Increased stress can lead to us not focusing on the task at hand or lead to a loss of sleep which can, in turn, lead to further distractions and inattentiveness.
Here are some suggestions to help you and your employees cope with stress and overcome distractions that could be negatively impacting your work:
Hold frequent “toolbox” talks with employees: Short 5-10 minute safety meetings can be a great way to remind employees of hazards in their respective work areas, promote awareness, and help employees re-focus on the task at hand.
Talk to someone: Eva Stubits, PhD, a Houston-based clinical psychologist who specializes in stress management, says,”[Venting] helps take the feelings out from inside of yourself, it helps you to process them,” she says. “It’s kind of like the pressure cooker analogy: If you don’t open a lid periodically, the steam can build up and cause you to feel even more stressed. If you let it out, it can help you process whatever it is you’re worried about.”
Practice Meditation: According to research done by Harvard University, the human mind is lost in thought 47 percent of the time. We worry about the past and the future, which means we often aren’t thinking of the present. The Mayo Clinic states that meditation can help reduce stress, anxiety and help us regain focus. Meditation can act like exercise for the mind and can help train our minds to stay focused for longer periods of time. There are a number of other benefits as well.
Take frequent breaks: Research suggests that our brains weren’t designed to stay focused for long periods of time. Sometimes a simply break can help us regain our focus. Alejandro Lleras, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois explains, “Deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused,” he said. “From a practical standpoint, our research suggests that, when faced with long tasks (such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes), it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task!”
Prioritize Sleep: Getting adequate sleep can play a big role in overall heath. Melanie Badali, PhD, RPsycy, states that, “Good sleep is definitely on the ‘resource’ side of the scale. Good sleep helps with psychological functioning, including improved emotional regulation and cognitive processes such as concentration, attention and memory.”
We are facing some unique challenges in our communities right now, but suffering from an injury doesn’t have to be one of them. Stay focused and be safe! Share these tips with your employees to keep everyone safe and healthy at work and at home.
If you need assistance with safety material or assessing your workplace hazards, please contact Helpside Safety Director Josh Hancey at firstname.lastname@example.org.