European Youth Portal

Information and opportunities for young people across Europe.


Stress at work - can you slow down?

How should you handle stress at work? Can't you slow down? Stress is one of the most typical illnesses of our times, which has not only mental but also physical effects. A little stress is not dangerous, but if it is constant, we have to pay attention.

Stress is the spice of life

 

We used to say so. The reaction to stress is a genius trick of nature, because under stress the body runs on top form. Within a fraction of second, hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol releases into the blood, which speed up the heart beat and the breathing. So they provide the brain and muscles with sufficient amount of sugar. A bit of adrenaline wakes the spirits from time to time, makes us fit for emergency situations, and brings impetus to life. Problems arise, however, when the stress has no end. It has many negative consequences, which are hard to deal with in an accelerated working environment full of tasks and impulses. Sleepless nights burden the private life, stress has a negative effect on relationships, leads to inadequate nutrition, physical inactivity, mental strain, and causes many diseases. In long term it has negative effects on the performance of companies, which could be the obstacle of business development and success on higher level.

 

Fight against stress - Slow@Work

Sometimes we really need to slow down for a minute. With our fast life-style we just run through our life, we do not experience really valuable moments. But slow life is like cycling. We enjoy the sunshine on our face, feel the fresh air and have time to look around, to wonder about the little beauties of life.

 

This is the philosophy of the members of Slow Life movement which has already came to Hungary. But conscious life-style changing is as much important in private life as at our workplace. According to the opinion of Slow Budapest it is pioneer to talk about workplace balance. Their Slow@Work training program offers simple, time- and cost-efficient solutions for companies, everything from the point of view of flexibility and sustainability.

 

Namely, companies have the responsibility about what kind of corporate culture they create and how they support their employees in the fight against stress. The climate of workplaces can totally change if company leaders choose creativity instead of quick work, and results-oriented mentality instead of performance-oriented. Although, workers can also do a lot for their own happiness if they learn to prioritize, to say 'no', and to respect their own boundaries.

 

Healthy workplaces and the EU

In April, the European Union started an ambitious project called "Healthy Workplaces", which hopefully will facilitate the change of approach for which there is an urgent need nowadays. Slowly we realize that on the long term it is only possible to perform well if we live slower, more balanced and conscious. The campaign of the EU in 2014-2015 is going to reward companies and organizations, which manage and reduce work-related stress and psychosocial risks in an outstanding and innovative way.

 

International Slow Movements

All around the world there are many campaigns to slow life down. One of them is the Go Slow Family in Scandinavia, which targets mostly parents and raise awareness for slowing down in private life to experience important moments.

 

The Slow Food campaign started as a counter-pole of fast food restaurants and propagates the joy of cooking and healthy food made from selected quality materials.

 

The movement of Slow Berlin came from a similar idea as well, and encourages us to explore the city in a different way. It suggests tourists to avoid fast tourism with too much programs, and follow the "less is sometimes more" principle to enjoy the city. For example we can stay in an apartment instead of a hotel, we can spend a whole week in the city instead of a weekend, we can join a cooking course or an art workshop, or we can even start to learn a foreign language. While exploring the city, we should have a rest in a park, enjoy the sun and relax a little bit.

 

Outside of Europe we can also find initiatives like these, in New York for example SlowLab was the starter of the Slow Design movement, which has now a center in Amsterdam as well. It prefers creative, rich but slower thinking during creative activities. According to them - and we also agree - our world could be more sustainable through this way.

 

Written and translated by Alexandra Soós