Stress: Our Biggest Challenge at Work and Home
Studies indicate the prevalence of extreme stress among staff in the workplace is as high as 30-40% and is a major influence on worker productivity, absenteeism, health conditions, injury rates, and staff turnover
When you think about stress, what comes to mind? Maybe the challenge of an approaching presentation at work or a sports competition. These are known sources of stress with finite ends to the situation. In these situations our physiological response to stress is a normal response and can indeed be helpful. Your heart rate and blood pressure elevate, your muscles tense, and your body’s natural cortisone kicks in preparing to take action. This is the body’s reflexive response to a demanding situation. It activates our ‘fight or flight’ responses. This response is designed for a short-term situation only.
But approaching situations where it is not clear what might happen to us or we are not sure we can handle what we think is approaching are sources of long-term anxiety and stress that can impact our health and happiness both at work and home. This chronic psycho-emotional sense of pressure can result in prolonged physiological responses that cause physical and emotional wear and tear. The COVID-19 pandemic is a good example of something that can stimulate this kind of chronic stress The loss of a job or a prolonged upset with an immediate family member or work colleague are other potential examples.
The good news is our ability and capacity to handle stress can be improved. Experiencing an improvement in ability can become an immense sense of accomplishment and self-confidence. There are many proven techniques that can help us manage these physiological responses, calm our nervous systems, and improve our abilities. Scroll down for a poster with a variety of proven strategies and techniques to help. Give them a try and adapt the ones that work for you to put you back in control of your body’s reflexive stress responses.
Here’s the final secret: To handle our most challenging or persistent stressful situations requires the ability to first be truly aware of the source of our stress, then have the courage to confront uncomfortable situations and actually take action. If not apparent, carving out a couple minutes a day to pursue simple mindfulness strategies like taking a short walk outside or journaling can go a long way towards understanding what you are reacting to and what your body needs. You can’t always change the source of your stress, but with that knowledge, you can change how you take action. The willingness to act and persevere is the stuff that resilience is made of, and the true ability to handle stress.
Physical Therapist, Health Coach
Cioffredi & Associates Founder