Tension: It Doesn’t Just Go Away
We are Left with a Twenty-Six Hour Half Life!
Stress management is learning how to deal with stress, not necessarily reducing it. …and we live in a world where stress is a constant.
Our physiological response impacts us in all sorts of ways. We know that. Most of us know from experience.
Considering the threat of raised cortisol levels and we run the risk of impacting the hippocampus, amygdala, even the prefrontal cortex. When stress is prolonged, our bodies start borrowing sources from other systems (such as the endocrine system), thereby leaving us robbed and depleted. We’ve heard the results: stroke, heart attacks, even hypertension can actually be linked back to stress in the workplace.
What’s worse is that cortisol has a 26 hour shelf life.
Let me back up a minute here and share something with you. You know the adage ‘he died of a broken heart’? While the actuality of dying from something acutely or chronically sad or stressful isn’t going to be there. However, the science comes in when we associate our lifestyles during or surrounding stressful situations. Chances are we aren’t taking care of ourselves (eating right, exercising, avoiding excessive consumption of anything harmful, etc.) and as such, we end up running the risk of lowering our immune systems.
We are more prone to illness or injury when our immune systems are compromised. When we have too much cortisol running through our veins, the ability for our bodies to heal themselves is compromised. Keep that cortisol level raised for too long and we’re comprising our health. Put two and two together and he may not have died from a broken heart literally, but he positioned himself in a situation that increased his chances. The same thing applies to stress caused by the workplace.
It’s Our Job to Control This
As leaders though, it’s also our job to control this.
Studies show that when under stress, the cortisol levels in our blood go up. We know that we all respond to stress differently and some of us turn to food, exercise, or even the t.v. when things get too stressful. When cortisol levels rise caused by stress in the workplace, are oftentimes magnified by commonalities such as
- Taking the stress home
- Discussing the stressful situation (over the water cooler, for instance)
- Ignoring it. Hoping it goes away if we pretend like it’s not there
When we embark on these activities, we usually do so in an attempt to reduce our stress levels. The irony is that it further pumps up that cortisol running through our bodies. We are creating a snowball effect and don’t even realize it.
Any tips for controlling stress in the workplace?