What about physical stress?
Is your chair suitable and adjusted correctly? Are your computer monitors at the correct height, resolution, brightness? Might you need an eye test and need glasses? Are you a too cold/too warm? Have you had a satisfying breakfast before coming to work? Have you had a good night’s sleep? Is your diet supplying you with all the nutrition that you need to function well?
What about emotional stress?
Do you have any unresolved personal issues that are weighing on your mind? Are you experiencing any bullying, either in work or away from work? Do you feel that your life is being controlled by something or someone outside of your control?
This list of possible causes of stress is not exhaustive and there are many more but one thing that they all have in common is that they will produce a negative effect on your health and wellbeing as well as your productivity in the workplace.
What happens when the body experiences stress?
As soon as stress levels begin to rise the body will go into a defence mechanism. It’s a ‘fight or flight’ response as the body has detected a potentially dangerous situation that needs to be addressed. It’s a throwback effect to running away from a chasing sabre toothed tiger! Our adrenal glands will release a hormone called ‘Cortisol’, often referred to as the ‘stress hormone’. Now, back in the days of running away from sabre toothed tigers this had a welcome effect. Cortisol would increase levels of adrenaline, raise the level of sugar in the blood to increase available energy, increase the heart rate to pump that blood round the body faster, increase breathing rate to make sure we are flooded with oxygen, dilate blood vessels to make the blood flow easier and muscles work faster and now we can escape the danger.
In the 21st Century we don’t have many sabre toothed tigers but the body will have the exact same response but now with very negative effects.
Adrenaline will increase, as will the level of sugar in the blood. This will come from converting fat back into sugar and dumping it in the blood (this sounds good but hang on a moment). When running away from the sabre toothed tiger, this excess sugar in the blood would be removed by burning it off immediately. If it isn’t then it will be restored as fat and more fat. This is because when blood sugar rises the pancreas will release a hormone called insulin. Insulin has the effect of removing sugar from the blood and having it absorbed by body cells to be used as energy. If you don’t use it as energy, (running away from that tiger again), it will be stored as fat because Insulin is a fat storing hormone as well as fat burn blocking hormone. After a blood sugar spike there is often a blood sugar crash causing low levels of blood sugar. Our ancient cave dweller would now simply rest, having thrown off the tiger and the body would restore itself but in the 21st Century, a much quicker way to reset the blood sugar is to eat and as it is sugar the body is craving, we will seek out high sugar foods from the vending machine….and the cycle repeats with a blood sugar spike!
So our first negative effect of stress is increased fat storage and a difficulty in controlling weight.
Another effect of stress will be an elevated heart rate. This will contribute to an increase in blood pressure and therefore stress on the blood vessels and arteries possibly causing heart disease further down the line. Blood vessels to the brain are also effected and so possibility of stroke is increased.
Next negative effect of stress is increased chance of heart disease and stroke.
As the blood sugars are now likely to be frequently high so will insulin levels. Constantly high insulin levels has the effect of reducing its overall effectiveness. This is a condition known as metabolic syndrome or ‘pre-diabetes’. If this condition continues for a prolonged period then the outcome is type 2 diabetes.
Next negative effect of stress is an increased chance of becoming diabetic
The immune system is severely compromised as a result of stress. As a result you will be far more susceptible to common infections and viruses reducing your effectiveness at work or promoting increased absence from work.
Next negative effect of stress is reduced productivity and increased absence from work
These are just a few of the possible detrimental effects of stress on the body and the list is unfortunately quite long. But what can be done about stress.
Reducing Stress and Cortisol