Updated: Mar 3, 2019
When it comes to workplace stress, we often just put it off as it's "just a bad day or busy period". But all too often these busy periods or bad days seem to roll into one and before we know it, every day is busy or bad. Quite often, we then have a day off or long weekend or things slow up and we assume it was just a blip. Next thing you know we are back in the thick of it and up to our eyeballs, feeling stressed, tired and exhausted....and so the cycle continues.
So what's wrong with that? You may think it's ok or manageable, or worse still "it's just the way it is". This is exactly what leads to employee burnout over the long term. To understand why, you need to understand the nature of stress and what it does to your nervous system.
Whenever we experience stress our body enters one of two responses:
1 - Short term response - These short term responses are produced by The Fight or Flight Response via the Sympathomedullary Pathway (SAM)
2 - The longer term response - Long term stress is regulated by the Hypothalamic Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) system
It's the longer term response that this blog will focus on as its the most damaging if left unchecked. When ignored, this type of stress can cause big changes in your body and how you cope. This is the stress that leads to long term sickness, anxiety or even a complete breakdown.
TOO MUCH CORTISOL CAN HAVE THE FOLLOWING EFFECT:
- Rapid weight gain mainly in the face, chest and abdomen
- Raised blood pressure
- Osteoporosis (Long term)
- Skin changes (bruises and purple stretch marks)
- Muscle weakness
- Mood swings e.g. anxiety, depression or irritability
- Increased thirst and frequency of urination
High cortisol levels over a prolonged time can also cause lack of sex drive in both men and women. Also, in women, periods can become irregular, less frequent or stop altogether.
THE DANGER? UNLIKE FIGHT OR FLIGHT HORMONES - CORTISOL IS A LONG LASTING HORMONE STAYING IN THE BODY FOR LENGTHY PERIODS!
The two best methods of reducing cortisol in the body are exercise and stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness, hypnosis or meditation. It may not be practical to exercise at work which is why our training sessions teach you how to use the latter and even better how to incorporate them into your working day.
So when someone says "WHY BOTHER?" with stress management or mindfulness.....
Now you know why?
The Wellbeingway - Putting your mental health first.