Why be concerned?
There are many health, productivity and relationship reasons to be concerned about stress (see also TED video above):
- Physical health reasons: Ongoing stress can impair many body systems, including the immune, digestive, excretory, and reproductive systems. According to NIMH, people under chronic stress are prone to more frequent and severe viral infections, such as the flu or common colds. Over time, continued strain from routine stress can also associated with serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, anxiety disorders, and a range of other illnesses
- Work productivity: Stress is a significant reason for absenteeism, lower productivity and ‘presenteeism’, where staff are in work but unable to function effectively/at their best. According to the TUC, stress is the top health and safety concern, and employers must take effective measures to manage this potentially life threatening challenge. Yet techniques to manage stress are not routinely taught, and often people do not know what they can do to stay well and improve or manage how they are feeling. At work stress is also associated with poor concentration, lower morale, withdrawal, avoidance, low self-esteem and low confidence.
- Emotional health problems: Moderate or extreme stress is associated with serious health and well-being problems incl depressed mood, anger and irritability. All of these can detract from productivity and effectiveness in the workplace.
Treatment towards better
Stress is highly treatable with cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). At The I Can Centre we offer 1-1 and group CBT. At community and corporate level, we also offer CBT as a low-cost course such as "Stress Busters" and "Worry Busters" - see our calendar for information on new courses starting soon, or just get in touch. These group courses can be taken ideally ahead of time, for information, prevention and health promotion purposes.
Corporate: We also give ad hoc talks and presentations on managing stress, and can fit these into whatever time slots are available. Do get in touch to discuss further.
There are many things people can also do themselves to combat stress, not least when the effects of stress can build up over time.Taking practical and compassionate steps to maintain health and outlook can reduce or prevent many effects including:
- Looking after physical health by eating healthily, taking regular exercise, and by drinking enough water through the day.
- Allowing time regularly for hobbies and interests, especially at busy times
- Setting priorities, and learn to say manage time and new tasks so that staff do not go into overload.
- Scheduling regular times for healthy and relaxing activities, including meditation, yoga, or other exercises
- Getting help from family, friends, and others, incl community or religious organizations to manage challenges such as caring for family members
- Positive and encouraging self-talk - click here for information on the role of kindness and compassion in promoting health.
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The very real problem of stress
There are many different types of stress, all of which carry risks for productivity, as well as physical and mental health:
- Ongoing stress refers to every-day type stressors including work and family pressure, or other daily responsibilities.
- Sudden stress brought about by sudden negative changes, such as illness, and urgent deadlines or demands, and
- Traumatic stress can include major accidents, assaults, or natural disasters with potential for being seriously hurt.