[Employee Wellbeing, Business, Stress]
We’ve heard about laughter and letting off steam to relieve stress. Let’s face it, it relieves tense feelings and distracts us from the matters at hand that are causing us to feel stressed.
Too often we shy away from tears or admitting to needing a good cry. We feel we need to be tough, perhaps there’s even a feeling of guilt or sadness when we allow ourselves to cry on our own but according to a Japanese professor, crying could be the release we need.
Tears release a wide range of emotions from joy to sadness but did you know that emotional tears actually expel stress hormones and toxins that are therefore being released from the body? Then on the flip-side, research also shows how crying releases endorphins that make us feel better. How's that for a win-win?
In Japan, crying has become a serious stress-relief business, even finding its way into companies and educational institutions as a positive therapy for stress relief and supporting mental health.
For the Japanese, it seems that crying in front of the boss is encouraged. This all links to research done by Junko Umihara, professor at Nippon Medical School in Japan. Reported in the Japan Times, he said,
‘Crying is an act of self-defence against accumulating stress”.
In Japanese culture, there is even the emergence of the "namida sensei" or "tears teacher," who helps people in business or college embrace the benefits of crying.
So, what can the rest of the world learn about the benefits of shedding a few tears?
- What can we change about our business culture? Is it OK to show emotion in your place of work? How do people react? Would a ‘sensei’ work in our working culture? Are you a business that only shows aggression and dismisses other emotions, seeing tears as weakness? Consider how much more positively effective would it be to embrace the rollercoaster of emotions that we all experience, male and female, and support each other when work is stressful. Many of us do support each other but it is usually individual action rather than a positive response in a business culture as a whole.
- Being true to ourselves is less stressful. The biggest lie we say to each other, often on a daily business is, ‘everything’s fine’, or ‘I’m OK.’ Isn’t it time we made it OK to talk, without reservation or judgement and to share our worries? We’re only human after all and humans make up the biggest resource in business. A problem shared is a problem-halved, they say. What’s more a problem shared (or tear shared) releases the stress emotions that interfere with our mental balance, decision-making and clear thinking.
- Take a break . Some businesses are lucky enough to have duvet days as a perk but we all need a break sometimes. Stress affects us both physiologically as well as mentally and both in the short and long-term in terms of our physical health. Taking a break is our opportunity for a mental ‘control-alt-delete’, just as computers need to crash, we need a break for our mental computers. Take a walk, take a day off, play squash, just make sure you factor in time for a break from the constant demands of work for your own mental health as well as physical.
In short, it’s time to be open about the effects of stress in the workplace. Humans are valuable and the core contributor to productivity and profit. Minimise stress through a supportive culture and teaching people how to manage their minds for better mental wellbeing and the result will be that people are happier, more engaged, and keen to get to work. The results will speak for themselves.