Managing Mental Health and Technostress: Now is not the time to start judging your efforts against tough performance benchmarks
Speaking to colleagues across a range of professions, on how they are coping with working from home, has highlighted key areas and the importance of managing stress. Having recently completed a ‘Managing Mental Health and Stress’ course, I explored a whole range of causes, prevention strategies, practical solutions and case studies of stress. The section on Technostress has taken on particular significance, with so many people including myself, required to work from home.
We are bombarded with all possible causes of stress at present, including financial pressure to managing families in a confined space – our own health and wellbeing is at stake. Technostress is characterised by technical complexity, work overload, role ambiguity, invasion of privacy, the pace of change, job insecurity, work-home boundaries and often low reward for maximum effort. The Effort-Reward Imbalance Model seems to be flipped upside down.
Be aware of the early warning signs of wellbeing taking a dive: withdrawal, apathy, irritability, mood swings, blame culture thinking, lack of motivation and commitment. Changing behaviours and thought patterns at this stage is critical. Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of the primary interventions such as job redesign, ergonomic improvements, role clarification, role rotation, participation in implementing technologies to combat stress – we had to swiftly adapt into these arrangements without an alternative.
Therefore, we can look towards secondary prevention tools such as Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) training and Present Moment Awareness, also known as Mindfulness training. I began using these training methods and visualisation techniques as a young touring professional on the ATP Tour – crucial not only for performance enhancement, but also for managing the daily stresses, uncertainty and pressure of having to win tennis matches to secure an income. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a third option, a more sustained process, advisably undertaken with the guidance of a professionally trained therapist.
Implementing these techniques in combination with the normal healthy habits of balanced diet, taking regular breaks, exercising, good rest and sleep can help to combat our current state of technostress and other work-life related pressures.
It's crucial to remember – now is not the time to start judging our efforts against tough performance benchmarks. We have to give ourselves an emotional break, be more non-judgmental, filter the amount of information we digest, as well as being conscious of the information type we absorb in this climate.