Stress, in the biological context, is defined as “a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension.” All of us are no stranger to it – stress affects everyone in some way or the other. Psychologists believe that not all stress is harmful, as it is directly correlated to our body’s fight or flight response (that kicks in when there are threats to survival) and, in the day-to-day setting and on an occasional basis, it can help motivate and increase productivity.
What we should worry about, though, is long-term or continuing stress. The effects of chronic stress differ in each individual – but, in general, it takes a significant toll on one’s health, impacting digestive, reproductive, sleep, immune, and cardiovascular function. It also increases the body’s cortisol levels, which is directly associated with weight gain, anxiety, and memory loss. In the workplace, persistent stress has shown to negatively affect productivity, relationships, and quality of work. The statistics on the infographic above is enough proof that chronic stress is a universal problem that should NOT be ignored.
But there is hope, yet.
Many companies have now incorporated stress management in their employee wellness programs. This is an important factor that business owners should consider in order to attract top talent, to increase efficiency and profitability, and to improve overall wellbeing. Companies, on average, have seen savings of $6 in healthcare costs for every dollar invested in health and wellness.
Of course, coping with stress on a personal level should be the first step. There are many ways to curb the negative effects like: exercising regularly, taking breaks/vacations, eating healthy, meditating, and setting ample time for rest. Another oft-neglected, but effective way is getting social support – by cultivating positive and empowering relationships, delegating to avoid overload and burn-out, and asking for help, when needed. Whatever the ways you decide to follow and integrate into your work and personal life, taking charge and dealing with stress is one of the most important changes you can do for a better, happier, healthier life.
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