WASHINGTON: A growing number of people today are complaining about the stress in their lives. But how many of them are actually doing something about it?
Don’t wear stress like a badge of courage. Being busy is fine, but too much busy-ness is not desirable. It generates stress. And the impact this has on your immune system over time can negatively affect your health.
Stress can manifest in many ways. Sometimes, you can feel it in your body. At other times it can shift your personality. Are you abrupt or impatient with people? Do you feel the tension? In what part of your body does stress show up?
The good news is you can actually do something about this. Even better, your family and colleagues will appreciate you for doing so.
An article in the December 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review referenced a 2017 “Stress in America” survey. The American Psychological Association (APA) found that “constant checkers” – people who check their emails, texts, and social media on a constant basis – experience more stress than those who don’t.
More than 42 percent of survey respondents attribute their stress to political and cultural discussions on social media, compared with 33 percent of non-constant checkers. While it may feel impossible to take a cold turkey break from technology, the APA says that periodically unplugging or limiting your digital access can be great for your mental health.
As a coach, I hear some common themes ranging from inhabitants of the C suite to heads of household.
- No one is immune from stress.
- Stress is a part of our world.
How you deal with this reality and react to it will make a difference in your life. Giving serious thought and focus to how you want to lead and live your life is vital. You need to take a time-out, without technology distractions, where you can think about how you want to live your life.
There’s a reason why a wellness revolution taking place today. I believe people want to take breaks and don’t believe they can. There’s the feeling that there’s not enough time, that we are all running on a hamster wheel.
But as they are beginning to see this, businesses are shifting their perspectives on employee health and wellness. They have begun to regard employee issues such as getting enough sleep and eating healthy as serious subjects. That is because they are seeing the toll that stress is taking on the health of their employees, and therefore, their return on investment (ROI).
Case in point: Not too long ago, I was visiting a friend who works at Bloomberg News in NYC. I noticed the company provided healthy snacks and lounging areas for employees to take a break.
Science also tells us that we are more productive and creative when we’ve had enough sleep. I remember an interview with Arianna Huffington after she was diagnosed with exhaustion. She started making changes at the Huffington Post. For example, she said that well rested employees were more productive and creative. To help address this, she created areas where employees could nap. We all know how much better we feel with a good night’s sleep. When is the last time you woke up feeling refreshed?
The APA findings also said that chronic stress floods our nervous system with cortisol and adrenaline, which short-circuits important cognitive functions. Researchers have studied its negative effects on focus, memory, and other cognitive functions for decades. The findings are consistent. Short-term stress raises cortisol levels (the so-called stress hormone) for short periods and can jump-start our adrenalin, motivating us to perform more efficiently in response to impending deadlines.
Long-term stress, however, can lead to prolonged increases in cortisol and can be toxic to the brain. We also have lower resilience level and a negative or non-productive self-talk.
Fighting stress: Here’s something you can try:
To fight stress and its unfortunate and counterproductive side-effects, work to increase your self-awareness so that you can improve your focus. In other words, pay attention to what might lead to your losing your focus. You can then have the ability to dismiss distractions and stick with what you were originally focused on. This is an area where, by limiting or banishing stress, you can develop the ability to change things.
For more Information Contact:
Susan Commander Samakow, PCC, CPCC
Certified Business, Life & Career Coach Focusing on Confidence & Resilience Strategies and Transition
301-706-7226 & 703-574-0039
Ask Susan about her coaching packages and the Stress Reducing techniques she teaches: EFT (Tapping) and Breathing Exercises.