No matter how much you love what you do, there are many aspects of your job that could stress you out, be it responsibility, deadline, demand, and so on.
While many of us might still don’t know the right ways to cope with stress, we tend to keep it inside. In the long term, it could generate fairly harmful effects for both your body and mental health.
So we picked this essential topic and brought it as our current enrichment training material, since this is an issue where everyone absolutely will relate to, we put all people together in the tribune, from production, all the way to administration division.
Zia, our speaker—who pursued a master degree in psychological research in England—shared many insights on how to be aware of stress symptoms in your body and how to cope with them. Her warm and joyful trait made learning about stress for hours, fun.
What is stress and How to cope with it?
At the opening of the workshop, Zia guided us to do a simple simulation. She asked us to hold anything in our hand, be it our phone, coffee cup, snack, pencil, or anything, and lifting it above our head.
We were told to hold it until Zia said “stop”. Then she asked how we felt. “It was tiring,” replied most of us. That simple simulation was a brilliant way to depict how we hold stress.
Holding pressures, problems or any emotions inside ourselves is as tiring as lifting something small above your head for a long time. Emotion or stress should be released or channeled out. That’s why, knowing the right way to release them is important.
So, what is stress and what it does to your body?
Stress is a state of mental tension caused mainly by problems in life and work. When we feel stressed, our body produces cortisol, a primary stress hormone that alters immune system response and suppresses the digestive, reproductive, and growth process.
Normal amounts of cortisol is necessary as it helps your body to survive. Normal levels of stress are good to help people stay focused on important things, energetic and able to meet new challenges at the workplace.
But if you constantly feel pressured, the stress response system can disrupt many of your body’s processes and cause psychosomatic symptoms such as anxiety, digestive problem, headache, sleeping problem, heart disease and weight gain.
Those are the reactions toward stress that we usually take lightly and don’t really give attention to. But feeling one or more of those symptoms is the sign for you to find a way to cope.
Zia suggested having enough sleep, talking to someone, exercising and doing enjoyable activities. And most important, loving yourself and being aware that you have the right to be happy. Appreciate yourself when you accomplish something, or give a small pat on your own back.
Enjoyable game sessions
At the opening and in between the main sessions, we played several amusing games. The first game was colouring a map with 4 different colors. It was a bit tricky since the same color should not be put side by side.
In the second game, Every team was given plasticine and freedom to create anything they wanted with it. Given only 10 minutes of thinking, discussing and executing, we were so amazed at how deft our friends are. They created rainbow, flowers, cute-sized fruits, a wall of death (a super unexpected one!) and junk food out of the cube plasticine. Representatives from each team brought their masterpiece forward and presented it in a comical way. They opened their presentation with humorous rhymes and other laugh-triggering ways.
For closure, Zia picked a winner for each game. Colouring books and mini blocks were awarded to team 4 and 6 to help them release stress in fun ways.
Done with material session and nice lunch, we started a sharing session in small groups, consisting of several sub-activities:
- Filling a form to measure how often our body feels symptoms of stress such as headache, indigestion, sweating, muscle tension, et cetera.
- Sharing what triggers our stress the most in the workplace. Others’ expectation, colleague behaviour, responsibility, and concerns regarding performance are issues that appeared in the list.
- Doing a “Stand up if you are…” game, where Zia mentioned conditions such as, “You often feel lonely; you’re afraid of ghosts; or you don’t have someone close to share stories”. Anyone who feels related to the mentioned conditions need to stand up. We know people around us a little better through this game.
- Some of us shared their experience on how they handle difficult things that happened in their life, such as practicing gratitude, managing expectations, or waking up with 3 goals to be done everyday.
- Writing 3 positive things about the one that was sitting right next to us. We tried to dig positive things out of others that sometimes we are not aware of.
- Then, we reach the sweetest part of the day, Writing a love letter to ourselves. We wrote reasons on why we deserve to be happy. Believing that happiness is our right helps us going through hard moments and emotions that come along with it.
This session revealed that everyone has a vulnerable side, no matter how cheerful their facade is. It is relieving to know that we are not alone.
Enrichment Training Follow Up
On the next enrichment training, we still had this big theme going on. We brought along a group of psychologists from a psychological center of a local university that provides professional counseling for the public.
We kicked off the training by sharing a focused and practical information that helps us understand at which level of stress symptoms do when we need to seek for help.
Having 2 or 3 days of insomnia in a row is a common symptom of stress, most people are able to handle it on their own. But if your insomnia lasts for a while, it is a sign to look for help, be it telling your family, or reaching out medical assistance or psychological help.
The next is support peer sharing session, where we were divided into 12 teams consisting of 7 persons each. Each team was guided by 1 psychologist. In this session we were free to share anything that would help us relieve the burden in our mind.
The main rule is, everyone is obliged to keep everything shared in the group as confidential. Once a person shared her or his issue, other members were allowed to give suggestions or solutions.
“The sharing session helps me know that I am not alone, and that many people have bigger problems than me.” said Heni, one of the participants. Ciquita, another participant, said that sharing with others is very helpful to lighten up her mental strain. While Deni thinks that the solutions from others are helpful, but need to be adjusted personally because every person is different.
We consider mental health as a crucial issue for our employees, that’s why we take a step in addressing this issue by holding enrichments and other programmes. We hope in the future we will be better in both understanding ourselves, and also, in taking care of our mental health.