Stress is a natural feature of life – a programmed biological and psychological response elicited when we are confronted with threatening stimuli. This innate reaction is life-saving in some scenarios; but what are the consequences when a whole society is living, habitually, in fight-or-flight mode?
The American Psychological Association released a 2012 report entitled ‘Stress in America: Our Health at Risk’, which exposed, “high stress levels, reliance on unhealthy behaviors to manage stress and alarming physical health consequences of stress” a combination which they suggest reveals that America is on the verge of a “stress-induced public health crisis” (Anderson, 2011).
Money, work and the economy were cited as very significant sources of stress for the general population.
The adverse effects of stress on US industry are becoming clearer each day: an estimated $300 billion are lost annually by US employers due to stress-related absences. These costs take the form of employee accidents, absenteeism, turnover, reduced productivity, medical, insurance, and legal costs, and workers’ compensation.
Common stressors in the workplace include environmental factors such as temperature and noise, workload and time pressure, schedule, role stressors, situational limitations, interpersonal issues, emotional work and in more extreme cases, traumatic incidents.
Regularly experiencing a combination of any of these factors, in addition to personal stressors, can lead to chronic stress, the repercussions of which are devastating to an individual’s health and wellbeing.
Physical or physiological manifestations of stress, which can have medical consequences, often take the form of serious ailments such as heart attack, stroke, digestive problems, back pain, arthritis, headaches, high blood pressure, and hormonal changes.
Psychological effects of stress include a sense of burnout, depression, and anxiety, relationship or family conflicts, sleep issues, and general job dissatisfaction.
Behavioral byproducts of stress are visible in a variety of areas, from absences, lateness, poor decision making and job performance, to drug, alcohol, or tobacco abuse, workplace accidents, violence, and turnover (Landy,2009).
Luckily there is new research to suggest that the fight against chronic stress is a hopeful one. Proven technique to counter chronic stress, as prescribed by Harvard Medical School, include:
● Regular Exercise
● Social Support
● Healthy Diet
● Getting Enough Sleep
● Eliciting the Relaxation Response
● Mindful Breathing
● Yoga or Tai Chi
How do you take charge of your wellbeing and fight chronic stress?
Anderson, NormanB, Executive Vice, Suzanne Bennett Johnson,
Cynthia D Belar, Steven J Breckler, Katherine C Nordal, David Ballard,et al. Our Health at Risk. n.p., 2011.https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2011/final-2011.pdf.
Landy, Frank J,Jeffrey M Conte, Frank J. L, and Jeffrey Conte M. y. Work in the 21st Century:An Introduction to Industrial and Organizational Psychology. 3rd ed. Malden,MA: Wiley, John & Sons, 2009.
Publications, Harvard Health. “Stress.” Harvard Health Publications. HarvardMedical School, n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2017.
“WorkplaceStress.” The American Institute of Stress. N.p., 04 Jan. 2017. Web. 08 Mar. 2017.