According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stress and your health are directly related.
Short-lived or infrequent episodes of stress pose little risk. But when stressful situations go unresolved for longer periods of time, the body is kept in a constant state of activation, which increases the rate of wear-and-tear to biological systems. Ultimately, fatigue or damage results and the ability of the body to repair and defend itself can become seriously compromised. As a result, the risk of injury or disease increases.
Stress sets off an alarm in the brain, which then responds by preparing the body for defensive action. The nervous system is aroused and hormones are released to sharpen the senses, quicken the pulse, deepen respiration, and tense the muscles. This response (sometimes called the fight or flight response) is important because it helps us defend against threatening situations. The response is preprogrammed biologically. Everyone responds in much the same way, regardless of whether the stressful situation is at work or home. While responding in primarily the same way, the levels of intensity do vary from person to person.
Many studies have looked at the relationship between job stress and a variety of ailments, especially in the last 20 years. Mood and sleep disturbances, upset stomach and headache, and disturbed relationships with family and friends are examples of stress-related problems that are quick to develop and are commonly seen in these studies. These early signs of job stress are usually easier to recognize. Comparatively, the effects of job stress on chronic diseases are more difficult to see because chronic diseases take a long time to develop and can be influenced by many factors other than stress. Nonetheless, evidence is rapidly accumulating to suggest that stress plays an important role in several types of chronic health problems especially cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and psychological disorders.
Early Warning Signs of Job Stress:
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Short temper
- Upset stomach
- Job dissatisfaction
- Low morale
Stress, Health, and Productivity:
Some employers assume that stressful working conditions are a necessary evil. In these cases, management feels they must turn up the pressure on workers, however, this can end up setting aside health concerns in order to remain productive and profitable in today’s economy. Contrary to this belief, recent research findings are stating quite the opposite. Studies show that stressful working conditions are actually associated with increased absenteeism, tardiness, and intentions by workers to quit their jobs—all of which have a negative effect on the bottom line.
Recent studies suggest that policies benefiting worker health also benefit the bottom line. A healthy organization is defined as one that has low rates of illness, injury, and disability in its workforce and is also competitive in the marketplace. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health research has identified organizational characteristics associated with both healthy, low-stress work and high levels of productivity. Examples of these characteristics include the following:
- Recognition of employees for good work performance
- Opportunities for career development
- An organizational culture that values the individual worker
- Management actions that are consistent with organizational values
Finding ways to balance work life and the stressors that come with it are far and wide with options. It can be as simple as taking a walk and getting some fresh air during your lunch break or even encouraging a friendly office-wide wellness competition of sorts. The most important part is finding the method that works for you, and then being consistent with it.