Today, our lives literally revolve around our work. Whether in terms of number of hours we spend at workplace or the space it occupies on our mind-shelf, the fact remains that the work and matters related to it are mostly on the top of your mind. Now we don’t need a recessionary economy or poor market conditions to make us feel insecure or anxious. The pace and volume of our work is now enough to keep us on our toes almost all the time. This manufactured sense of urgency leaves us with tensions that don’t leave us even when we are not in office. It is like being on alert 24 x 7.
This unnatural load on our senses and thoughts causes physiological burden as well as psychological burnout. Cumulatively, all this manifests in multiple ways, like lifestyle diseases and psychosomatic disorders. Yes it is a difficult era, when life is becoming easier yet pretty complicated! However, we do have a way out – a solution that suits our evolutionary heritage and biological make-up. Before we discuss this point in details, watch this video to get the gist of what we are discussing, why it is important, and how it is relevant in professional and personal context…
Yes, in today’s competitive scenario, stress is a reality of every profession. However, its solution lies in two important characteristic features of human-evolution – being active and being connected. As social beings, we humans journeyed from the cradle of humanity – Africa – to all over the globe solely on their feet. In other words, movement and connectedness are important preconditions for our resilience in life. Thus, being active and connected can reduce stress considerably.
Well, like for any behavior, the root of this point lies in neuroscience. If we will look at our brain then we will find that two parts of our brain – hypothalamus and pituitary gland – in connection with the adrenal glands located just over our kidneys, make an axis or system which ultimately controls levels of stress related hormones like Cortisol. In response to stress, the release of Cortisol affects our metabolism in short-term, and in long-term, affects our cognitive processing and even our immune system.
However, two things have been found to alter the release, levels and effects of cortisol for better. They are physical activity and social connections. Physical activity also releases feel-good chemical endorphins, which increases sense of well-being. And social connections, whether in the form of workplace socialization or even harmless gossip, produce a feel-good chemical called oxytocin, which increases the sense of security and belonging. Well, but to appreciate this fact, social & emotional intelligence is needed.
This ‘emotional & social intelligence’ is about one’s cognizance of the design and functioning of human brain, and how they have a decisive impact on our responses and choices. This coming together of neuroscience and psychology sets the foundation for developing emotional & social intelligence – the skill of managing self and connecting with others. Yes, this all-important skill of all intrapersonal & interpersonal skills can be learnt, practiced and mastered. However, it all begins with some important realizations like…“Being active and connected can reduce stress considerably”.
Dr. Sandeep Atre
‘Emotional & Social Intelligence’ Expert
Founder – Socialigence
Note: Socialigence (www.socialigence.net) offers self-paced video-based online course on ‘Social & Emotional Intelligence’ with content that has relevance across the globe, and delivery specifically customized according to the work-scenarios in India.