Stress at work: the expert's advice

Interview with Dr. Serge Marquis, community health specialist and consultant in the field of mental health at work. He is the author of the book "We are screwed, we think too much", editions of La Martinière.

What is stress ?

Stress is a biological response of our body to external threats. A reaction that has allowed us to survive since the dawn of time. This causes the secretion of hormones and chemical mediators that allowed us to react quickly, to flee or to defend ourselves ... Today, we live happily in a very different environment, but this type of reaction still exists and can be triggered even by threats that do not endanger our lives, but just our ego. It is the survival of our image that is threatened.

So, we have the same reaction to a frown of others, that our ancestors had when they heard a roar ... And in the end the secretions of hormones and chemical mediators will not serve to flee or defend us. These substances secreted in large quantities may disrupt our immune system, and ultimately our health ...

Is it possible to tame stress?

Today, our greatest source of stress is the voice we have in our heads, the thoughts that occupy our minds all day long: judgments, regrets, worries ... It's as if it were a "foolish hamster" running on his wheel and repeating negative thoughts in a loop. How to control this reaction and disconnect the hamster roulette? It is quite possible to practice "calming the beast" before the stress response is triggered.

The secret is in the vigilance: the attention can not be in two places at the same time. The brain favors putting attention on what it perceives as a threat to our ego. We must develop vigilance to understand where our attention is and bring it back to the present moment. To get there, you have to train with a lot of discipline. Far from being a constraint to freedom, discipline allows us to put in place habits to make the voice in our head be silent.

Could you give some courses of action to calm our internal anxieties?

In order to tame the "hamster pensouillard", we must move our attention to something other than this voice that speaks in our head. One possible technique is to learn to focus on breathing, focusing on the feeling of the air entering the nose and swelling the abdomen. This triggers a physical reaction, acts on the diaphragm, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. It sends the brain the message to stop the stress hormones.

By training to place your attention on the breath, you will put in place new reflexes. Synapses will activate in your brain, which will allow you to refocus your attention and promote calm in all kinds of circumstances. This vigilance makes it possible not to be a trap of the ego.

How to find pleasure and meaning in everyday professional life?

It's been 30 years since I've been treating people who have cracked at work. When they arrive in my office, they are emptied, exhausted. They often say this sentence: "I do not know who I am anymore. I do not know where I am going. Professional burnout therefore touches on the question of identity. It is important, then, to reconnect with the resources within us, starting with self-esteem, and drawing a direction, looking at results.

It is important to identify what is the fear that triggers the stress response. What does it make you feel threatened? In the professional field, we often have to deal with situations of stress in dealing with our superiors or colleagues. Conflict arises when the ego seeks to "win", to prevail over the other. But rather than being in the conflict, it would be necessary to communicate. Focus on what is similar in opinions instead of looking for what is different. And when we come to the analysis of the differences, we should know how to learn something from the other, rather than want to destroy at any price his point of view, so that our ego wins.

You want to react, to give your testimony or to ask a question? See you in our FORUMS!

To read also our files:

> Self-confidence, it can be learned
> Overcoming your anxieties, phobias and anxieties!
> Depression: how to get out?
> Memory holes: when to worry?

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