This year put your work anxiety aside

Close your eyes and imagine you have an ice cube on your back. Now imagine a pastor taco with lemon or an Iberian ham sandwich. I bet that (if you did do it) your back felt cold or your mouth watered. This is because the brain works in wonderful ways. It has the incredible capability to make real what is not real; by just imagining it we feel it.

When we BELIEVE that we are doing it badly or we BELIEVE that someone doesn’t like us we REALLY feel anxiety in our bodies. They say that dreaming doesn’t cost a thing, but they are wrong. Neurologically, dreaming of bad things, causes us real stress. It costs us headaches, stomach aches, gastritis, colitis, dermatitis, etc. All of those “minor” conditions that are increasingly more common.

It would seem to be one of the consequences of capitalism and one from which we can hardly escape. The number one rule of the capitalist system is do more; be better than the other, compete. The problem isn’t in trying to be better than we are, and it wouldn’t even be a problem to try to be better than the other; what is slashing our spirit is the anxiety of feeling inadequate. We are all in the same loop. Even though you may hate reguetón, you have surely heard that J. Balvin is the globe’s #1 recording artist on YouTube. Well he has talked openly about his anxiety disorder (1) and has even become a spokesperson for mental health- not even the most listened to recording artist in the world is saved. Chris Evans suffers from social anxiety, Ryan Reynolds has talked openly about the same thing. To suffer from anxiety is to have worries and intense, excessive and persistent fears in everyday situations, and these fears happen to all of us.

Iron clad self-esteem is required to avoid falling in the trap of “everyone is better than me”. Everyone has fun, everyone is productive, everyone enjoys life and they don’t suffer. The problem is that all those thoughts are BELIEFS;it isn’t true. It isn’t true that everyone else has more fun, nor do they produce more, they don’t have better relationships than yours, nor do they wake up with less circles under their eyes than you nor do they do more exercise than you.

Taking it to the occupational sphere, believing that our co-workers work better than we do fills us with anxiety. That they get along better with the boss, that other agencies do it better; that they are subjected to less changes, that they are less pressured. That we are going to lose pitch, the account, the fee. All of this generates stress that far from making us more competitive, it is making us sick. In fact, there are already several very accessible scientific as well as “pop” contents that help us to reduce stress through very simple tips: meditation apps to do in the office, imagine scenarios linked to nature in the work place, install aquariums, decorate with plants, include outdoor activities in your agenda, etc. (2)

And the numbers are not the very encouraging:  since 2017 Mexico is the country with the most stressed work force in the world and Spain is #1 in Europe. In Mexico 75% suffer from burnout syndrome or fatigue due to occupational stress. In Spain 40% of the workers and more than half of the employers admit to suffering from stress (3, 4). Could it be that the work culture itself favors this stress thinking that if we demand more of ourselves we will produce more? If you have people in your charge: do you know how much stress your orders put on them? There has been much talk about how burnouts entail layoffs, absenteeism, things that in the long run cause real economic costs. But beyond this: do we want to carry the burden of the impaired health of our people? Or of our own health?

What is interesting is to understand that this belief-reality relation also works in the positive pole. If as professionals, we focus on what we consider our strengths, on what others have praised us for, or the projects that have been successful throughout our careers; we will surely project that self-confidence to others and while we’re at it we can reduce our imposter syndrome a little- like even Margot Robbie!- (5)

If, as a company, WE BELIEVE that the competition does it better than us, it is probable that we are setting the conditions for this to become a reality. What if instead of believing this, we change the perspective a little and we focus on what we are doing well. How about punishing ourselves less as an innovation, planning and research area. What if we take more breaks to celebrate the achievements. IF WE BELIEVE IT. If we are less demanding of ourselves. If we value the work from 2019. Start with a meeting to understand how your team feels, how they can go from being more productive-without-intention, to more focused, more compassionate with themselves. Maybe then we will release the business endorphins necessary to start the year with a more open attitude towards what is good. If we become less anguished and enjoy more, surely we will end up getting closer to our goals.

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