Judy Martin: [Full interview transcript]

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Judy Martin is a work-stress management consultant who works with clients across all professional sectors. As the founder of WorkLifeNation.com, a site dedicated to transforming stress in an “always-on” world,  Judy is championing the evolution of a new workplace culture concerned with employee well-being, engagement, productivity, innovation and creativity. Read Judy’s full bio here…

Click here to watch Judy’s interview, “Work Life Nation: Stress Management in an Always-On Society.”

Judy: After twenty-five years of news and even during that period of time it became very apparent to me that I had to be human at work so I started investigating meditation and yoga, breath work. This has been years and years of investigation and realize that the only way to get through my day as a news reporter was to somehow learn to manage my stress.

I was a business reporter, started looking at stress-management principles. And then 9/11 happened, and when 9/11 happened, it became very crucial to be able to stay grounded, navigate all of the overload that was around me, still cultivate resilience and be human while at work even though we were experiencing so much grief. And it became apparent that professionals working in our society right now, with all of the info overload and getting our information in real time, especially when there are chaotic external events going on. It’s not like you leave your soul and your emotions at the door, you’re bringing all that to work. So technology has made it necessary for us to find ways to cultivate resilience.

How do we navigate the sensory overload?

We’re living in an always on world in the sense that we can always get in touch with family and friends and we can always get in touch with work. Now, that’s what I call the technology paradox because while technology allows us to know when our child needs to be picked up from school or perhaps we gotta leave a bit early to pick someone else up from school, at the same time, work can get in touch with us at the drop of a pen unless we learn how to manage it on our own. So, we’re living in what actually Queen Rania had said of Jordan when she was at a web conference in Paris a few years back, she said we’re really truly, real time is the new primetime. So if we’re living in a real time situation and we’re always on, we need to learn how to manage that, because if we don’t, we’re going to burn out.

The question becomes, how do we navigate all of this sensory overload while managing our stress and cultivating resilience? That is the ontological question. With all the crisis, the external crisis, world events that have been going on, if we learn about that in an instant, that impacts our body. It’s sad. It elicits emotion. And if we are constantly in touch with our gadgets, then we’re going to know about these events and we’re constantly getting bombarded with these ticks of information. So how does that impact us? It impacts our brains, it impacts our emotions, it impacts our relationships. How could it not? I don’t think there’s ever such thing as balance. I think it’s more of really prioritizing and deciding what is important to you in any given moment.

What are the stress factors?

We’re living in a 24/7 high-tech global marketplace. Technology is everywhere. People are still without jobs. People who have jobs, are doing the jobs of two and a half people and they’re lucky to have jobs. So, there is this idea in corporate culture that, hey you’re lucky to have a job. I’m not going to go out of my way to necessarily make you feel better. However, a lot of the research that’s coming out right now, especially from the global companies, is this concern about creativity and innovation and engagement. We’re seeing a lot of research right now in neuroscience and there’s fact, there’s fiction, there’s a lot of debate going on about it, but the fact is that neuro-imaging is allowing us to see what goes on inside the brain. So we can see the areas of the brain that are impacted by Man Ray, that are impacted by relaxation, that are impacted by stress. As a result, scientists are looking at the hormones. Things like dopamine, seratonin, oxytocin and they’re making the relationships between our moods and the way we react and the way we behave and stress.

Is there a better way?

According to the American Psychological Association, 70 per cent of employees cite “work” as a significant source of stress. So there’s something there. Forty per cent say they’re chronically stressed at work and something like 51 per cent say they’re less productive at work because of stress. So if we tie stress to well being, we have a problem and corporations are starting to look at this, they’re handling it a little bit through employee assistance programs but I think workers in general are starting to look at their work life and they know that there’s got to be a better way of doing this, and taking it down a notch. It’s just too much. We’ve come to what I think is the tipping point and the tipping point has arrived not only for the workplace but people on an individual basis. How are you going to manage a work-life merge and how are you going to use the technology paradox to your advantage? Staying in touch with your family and friends, staying in touch with work, but doing it in a way that works for you so that you don’t burn out.

Summary:

  • We are living in a high stress environment where people are either looking for jobs or doing jobs made more more than one person
  • Technology enables us to do more, but also allows people to get in touch with us at all times
  • We need to cultivate a resilience to technology and the overflow of information at all times
  • Need to figure out a way to make technology work for you without letting your stress levels skyrocket

Follow Judy on Twitter @judymartin8.

 

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