In these challenging times, as we navigate our way through a global
pandemic with a lack of control over our destinies, we hear a lot
about stress and anxiety.
In this blog I will examine stress / anxiety and suggest some tools
and techniques to assist you in coming to terms with stress in your
Stress is your mind or body’s response or reaction to a real or
imagined threat event or change. When faced with a stressful situation the body releases hormones which allows it to respond.
These hormone releases can result in a range of symptoms such as a faster heartbeat; sharper senses; breathing faster; increased blood pressure and tightening of the muscles.
Generally, stress is a response to an external cause such as a tight deadline at work.
Anxiety on the other hand, is a person’s specific reaction to stress
and by its nature its origin is internal.
Generally, it’s characterised by a persistent feeling of apprehension or dread. It is important therefore to be able to differentiate between stress and anxiety to help you put in place an effective response.
Stress / anxiety responses can have positive and negative reactions.
Some of the positive outcomes can be an increase in motivation and productivity. Conversely stress / anxiety can be very detrimental to your health leading to a wide range of health issues.
Pressure is part of all work and helps motivate us.
Excessive pressure however can lead to stress, which undermines performance and can make people ill.
Workplace stress is the harmful physical and emotional responses which occur between the job demands and the amount of control you can have over these demands. It is a state that is threatened by high levels of arousal and distress and often by a feeling of not coping.
The main symptoms of workplace stress normally are when people perceive that there is an imbalance between the demands made of them and the resources, they have available to them to cope with those demands.
Typically, the following represent some situations which cause work related stress:
- High work demand
- Low support
- Lack of control
- Job insecurity
- Long working hour
- Low income
- Bullying and harassment
It is generally accepted that workplace stress can lead to a range of difficulties for organizations if not addressed.
These include workplace absence; reduced productivity; reduce employee’s motivation and engagement and reduced quality of product and services.
For employee’s workplace stress if untreated can lead to many
health issues ranging from heart disease to anxiety and insomnia.
Types of Stress
In general, there are 3 types of stress.
- Acute stress
- Episodic stress
- Chronic stress
Acute stress is the most common type of stress and it is the bodies response to an event, anticipating challenge or an unexpected occurrence.
Normally the body can deal with acute stress but if it is occurring on a regular basis it can become episodic acute stress.
Episodic acute stress occurs when a person experiences acute stress on a frequent basis. Someone experiencing this type of stress feels always under pressure, feels inadequate and also unable to deal with challenges.
This form of stress can lead to irritability, hostility, lack of motivation and relationship problems.
The last form of stress is chronic stress where stress is ongoing creating long term emotional pressure. When experiencing chronic stress your nervous system is constantly on the alert which can have serious implications for your health, central nervous system, particularly your heart and immune system.
All in all, stress causes extreme wear and tear on your body resulting in a range of physical emotional and behavioural reactions.
The most common of these are:
- Digestive issues
- High blood pressure
- Chest pain
- Sleep disorders
- Aches and pains
- Immune deficiencies
Unfortunately, some individuals respond to stress with unhealthy behaviours such as overeating, compulsive behaviours etc. It is important therefore that we develop healthier ways to manage our stress.
Your Stress Management Plan
The first step in developing a management plan for stress is to recognise its symptoms. Be aware of how you are in the moment and if stressed have a plan ready to respond.
By taking proactive steps to reduce stress you allow your body to move you from your sympathetic nervous system response (fight, flight or freeze) to a parasympathetic nervous system response (calm, relaxed, logical).
Simple technique include:
- Stopping and breathing
- Nutritional life energy foods
- Positive focus
- Learn to say “NO”
- Adapt Positive Habits
- Connect with others that you like and trust.
- Relax and get into nature.
- Have some fun.
- Practice EFT “Emotional Freedom Therapy”
In terms of solutions to workplace stress note some of the following:
- Ensure your physical work environment is adequate and meets
you physical and mental needs.
- Take control, as much as you can of your work goals and
- Familiarise yourself with workplace health and safety policies
- Integrate the basic stress techniques in this blog into your
- Manage your worktime in an efficient manner.
- Stress and anxiety unfortunately will always be with us but having
the right tools and techniques can assist us in turning it from
negative experience to a more positive one.
Hopefully, this blog gives you a better understanding of stress and anxiety and provides you with some tips to deal with it.
Remember however if you feel overwhelmed and cannot cope and these tips are not working for you, then seek professional help and do not let the stress condition persist.