Handling and letting go of stress

by Carmine Rodi Falanga


In today’s fast-paced work environment, there’s a relentless drive to increase productivity, meet tight deadlines, and achieve work and life goals. 

While commitment and hard work are undeniably crucial, an often-overlooked element is relaxation. Ensuring that relaxation is embedded in every element of our life is not only beneficial for individual well-being but also paramount for achieving a balance between personal and professional life.

Physical and Mental Health are equally relevant 


Continuous stress without relief leads to a state of burnout, affecting both physical and mental health. Physical symptoms such as headaches, sleep disturbances, and fatigue become more frequent. Mentally, prolonged stress can lead to anxiety, decreased cognitive function, and even depression. By incorporating relaxation techniques or allowing short breaks, we reduce the risk of these ailments and promote a healthier working environment.


Contrary to the belief that non-stop work leads to more output, relaxation can be a productivity enhancer. When the brain gets a chance to rest, it’s often when the ‘aha’ moments occur. Ideas tend to flow more freely when we are relaxed. Google, for instance, saw the value in this when they introduced their 20% time, which allowed employees to work on side projects. Some of the company’s best ideas, including Gmail, originated from this downtime.

How to Incorporate Relaxation in our daily routine 


  1. Breaks: Encourage regular short breaks. Even a 5-minute walk or stretch can rejuvenate the mind.
  2. Quiet Zones: Create spaces where employees can have a few moments of quiet. It provides an escape from the noise and bustle of the main work area.
  3. Mindfulness and Meditation: Some companies offer meditation or mindfulness sessions. These practices help in reducing stress and increasing focus.
  4. Flexible Hours: Offering flexible working hours can help employees balance work and personal life, reducing the overall stress.
  5. Outdoor and Nature. As little as 10 minutes outside in a space with nature lowers the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) for at least one hour. 


Keeping stress under control is crucial. At the same time, when we experience a high-stress situation, the stress levels linger in our system far beyond the duration of the event (even three times more). So a half-an-hour stressful drive or commute through the city, for example, can influence negatively our well-being for the following 90 minutes. And so many work days start exactly like that.

Another definitely negative effect of stress is that in situations of stress, our neocortex shuts down. That’s the most advanced part of our brain, responsible for high-level decision making and essential functions like the regulation of emotions. That helps to explain why high-stress situations and environments are not ideal for learning or productivity: the opposite is true, actually. 


This affects our physical condition, as well as our mental health. Ecopsychology aims at a balance between these systems, in a systemic approach with what surrounds us, and it is a necessary step.


Mental health, often overlooked in the past, has emerged as a cornerstone of holistic well-being. Just as physical health enables us to navigate daily activities, mental health plays an indispensable role in influencing our thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. Good mental health enhances our ability to cope with stress, build meaningful relationships, make decisions, and adapt to change. Conversely, poor mental health can manifest in various disorders, adversely affecting one’s career, relationships, and even physical health. It’s essential to prioritize mental health, recognizing its significance in every facet of life, from personal contentment to societal productivity. By fostering a culture that supports mental well-being, we not only uplift individuals but also cultivate more resilient and harmonious communities.


In conclusion, relaxation isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. Embracing relaxation in the workplace can result in healthier employees, innovative ideas, and a more harmonious work environment. It’s a win-win situation for both employees and employers. So, the next time you see someone taking a moment to relax, remember they might just be onto the next big idea!