A 2018 study suggests that even small, yet daily, exposure to stressors can cause significant lingering health issues almost 10 years later.
The researchers found that “recovery from daily stressors has unique importance for long-term physical health.
Last year, 4 out of 5 employees were affected by stress. That’s a whopping 104 million employees out of 130 million full-time employees!
The top three causes of stress are a vicious circle, both feeding the cause and feeding off the effects of the cause: This can be further compounded by the initial stress that is created by a catastrophic illness or accident.
3. Health: Health Crisis, Terminal or Chronic Illness
2. Money: Loss of Job, Reduced Retirement, Medical Expenses, College Loans
1. Job Pressure: Co-Worker Tension, Bosses, Work Overload
Most likely you suspected that the workplace would be #1.
Looking at research from the past 20 years, elements in the workplace have consistently been huge stressors, from managers, environment, the job not living up to promises in the description and interviews.
Co-workers also rank up there, with one study showing that people felt that their co-workers were negative and needed help.
Long working hours, higher workloads, shorter deadlines, and increased expectations all contribute to the rise in workplace anxiety and pressure.
Additionally, 96 million of people have felt so stressed that they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope and we see the results of stress in reduced productivity, more frequent excuses for not turning up to work, and increased health costs.
Stress is in the head and the body and is often a symptom of another underlying cause such as financial or health worries.
What you are feeling is an expression of what you are experiencing.
When faced with pressure or adversity, many of us don’t stop.
When we’re down, what do we do?
We get up, we keep pushing forward, we carry on. We push, push, push. This isn’t always the best choice.
All the push, push, push, isn’t giving you time to breathe. Road warriors, consultants on a client site, even shift workers all need to have a home base to have a break and synchronize their sleep and rest cycles.
Time spent in airports, hotels, meeting with clients, being away from family and friends takes its toll.
While companies can implement policy changes to address organizational specific issues, ranging from providing a planned series of stress-management and wellness programs that are inclusive for everyone, to small round-table discussions, there are three tools you can put in your Resiliency Toolbox and start using today.
This is a whole wellness program in itself, but in summary it involves putting the following steps into place:
Tool number one is Awareness: Recognize the signs of stress by asking yourself questions such as; What am I feeling? What’s going on in my mind, my body, my surroundings? Being aware helps each one of us in managing the cycle of working life.
Tool number two is Balance: “Workers who are finding balance between their jobs and personal lives are twice as happy, more productive and show greater loyalty to their employers than those struggling to find balance.” (Robert Half) Aug. 6, 2018
Learn relaxation techniques, such as breath control and affirmations to reduce tension and increase a sense of well-being. Set yourself reminders to get daily exercise. Even walking for 20 minutes every day is a wonderful way of de-stressing and giving you time to think and practice your breathing techniques. Or walk and communicate with like-minded colleagues and talk regularly with close friends.
Tool number three is Control: Get support and advice that is specific to your stressor, whether it is health, financial, or work related. Take small steps to take back control and, depending on the issue, consider sharing with a professional, a like-minded colleague, or with close friends rather than trying to do it all on your own.
The study at the start of this article highlighted that it’s not only major stressors such as a catastrophic health event or losing one’s job that negatively impact our lives, it’s the seemingly innocuous events, such as an argument, that nag at us and fester, causing long term damage to our health and overall wellness, if we allow them to.
It’s therefore important for companies and individuals to work together and promote supportive wellness policies and procedures, develop a company mission and vision for the future that supports a culture of well-being, and foster a workplace where everyone feels valued, supported, and can be their best WITHOUT worrying or stressing out.
Margaret Stockley is the CEO of Powcert, providing wellness program certification to help companies increase employee engagement and reduce health costs. She is the author of “Transforming Workplace Wellness” and co-author of “Inner Knowledge.” For further information on Powcert certification or Aspire2 Wellness programs contact Margaret.Stockley@powcert.com