How can managing workplace acoustics reduce burnout?

Acoustic strategy in workplace design impacts burnout

“Burnout is characterized by exhaustion, cynicism & inefficacy.”

Always exhausted, can’t get it done, can’t deal with unplanned or unexpected stress in your life?

Wellness guru and burnout authority Dr Whitney Austin Gray featured at NeoCon 2019

At the Neocon Design Show in Chicago June 2019, Dr Whitney Austin Gray from Delos emphasised the importance of how personal resilience and our workplace environments can reduce burnout in the workplace.

Whitney gave us an example of what happens when ‘Sheila’ doesn’t have the resilience to deal with unplanned stress that occurs in her everyday working life.

“Sheila wakes up and looks at her phone & starts making a mental to-do list and then responds to emails. She’s late, rushes to the car to try miss traffic, forgets her healthy lunch & …. hits traffic.

Sheila gets into work feeling rattled and behind before she’s started. The beautiful period of day first thing in the morning, when you gather your thoughts together and prepare is gone.

Sheila is desperate to get her one key report done – and there’s nowhere quiet she can go to concentrate, have any physical activity or even have the nap that she so badly needs.

There’s no way to recover, she’s getting frustrated & unable to cope with stresses. She has four coffees with sugar, in an attempt to try & focus on the one key thing that she now desperately needs to get done.

Shelia stays late at work to complete the report, gets home exhausted, picks up unhealthy take away for her tea as she’s exhausted, skips the gym and falls into bed to try recover for the next day.”

If you feel like you are not getting enough done in the day, physically or emotionally tired at work, are getting frustrated with elements of your job & not being able to cope with stresses that will crop up in a job – chances are you are headed for, or are already at the burnout stage.

Your body just isn’t resilient enough to cope with the stresses that will occur within your job.

You’re not alone. 30,000 people in the Willis Towers Watson study reported the most important thing around their workplace – they reported stress, stress & stress.

Another example is what would happen if you were to come across a bear! Your body REVS up! With your bodies sympathetic revs, the heart rate goes up, your systems get ready to run; breathing speeds up, your pupils dilate, and goose bumps appear…

Once the bear is gone, you need to recover. You need to come down, your body needs to reset & you’re ready for the next time.

“Eustress is the good stress, you can come down and recover – phew – after the occurrence, and distress is not knowing how to cope and long term causes burnout.”

For some people, the Bear is you, and that’s your psychological stress. Or your boss may be the bear – and that’s psycho–social stress.

Whitney highlighted the importance of being able to come down and ‘recover’ after stress.

If you don’t come down, and don’t recover, you don’t sleep soundly and that’s when the headaches & teeth grinding start, resulting in burnout. Burnout is when Demands of the stress exceed your ability to cope.

Stress turns into burnout when there’s been long unrecovered stress – and ends in exhaustion, meaning we can’t deal with unplanned events in our life.

We can help ourselves, it’s important to be organized and stay in control, so that we have the ability to ‘come-down and recover.

Another interesting point was epigenetics. We understand that the genes we were given at birth are the genes that we have.

The last decade of research tells us those genes may choose to turn on or off, depending on how we recover from our stress.

Research at University of Chicago looked at chronic stress, and in the decade old research they found – in four weeks of stress can change which genes are activated.

Depending on our own behavior & the environment we are in, those genes may choose to turn on or off.

The alarming studies combining Apple & Google & other research together show the estimated costs of burnout to the economy are between $125 – $190 billion annually.

Our early morning routine plays a big part in our resilience with our environment playing a critical role. As interior space planners & designers we have the power of impacting people’s lives in a potentially life-changing way.

We spend the majority of our lives in the workplace environment, making it crucial to ensure workplaces are a healthy environment.

To find out how we can re-design your working spaces to allow your team to be able to focus & take more power in their environment while reducing the cost of burnout, contact us at Icon Interiors!

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