Work can definitely cause stress. Meeting deadlines, constant demands of bosses, constant complaints from customers, and even dealing with the quirky personalities of your co-workers, are all examples of situations that can increase your stress level.
Studies show that when one’s stress level is heightened, productivity in work can be jeopardized. Although it can also be taken as a positive inclination towards completing tasks and assignments, too much stress is not always right to one’s physical and psychological health. According to Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., “Unchecked stress can sabotage a relationship and lead to dissatisfaction and disconnection.“
Effects of Stress
Imagine yourself facing a hungry lion. All your physiological functions are placed in an alarm stage that will allow you to either meet the lion (fight response) or run away from it (flight response). Either way, all these responses only mean that you are protecting yourself from potential harm.
In the alarm stage, the body undergoes adaptation like increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, dilated pupils, sweating, increased gastrointestinal motility, and increased brain actions. The heightened level of alertness can put the person into a focal point of concentrating and decide on what is the next step to do. If applied to the work setting, when your boss gives you work and a deadline to meet, your central nervous system is triggered to work thus putting all your body systems into action.
Constant exposure to stressful situations can lead to some medical and mental conditions. The following are the most common ailments encountered by persons who are always in a severe form of stress in the workplace.
The most common condition is peptic ulcer disease. The effect of stress on the stomach can lead to increased stimulation of gastric juices which are naturally acidic. If this happens too often, the gastric juices can irritate the stomach wall and can eventually cause ulceration or damage to the stomach tissues. The person may complain of upper stomach pain that is characterized by gnawing sensations, belching with episodes gastric juice reflux, and in severe stages, bleeding as seen in vomiting.
Hypertension and Cardiovascular Problems
Several factors can cause increased blood pressure, but in the case of constant stress, the condition is due to the stimulation of the baroreceptors in the brain causing vasoconstriction of blood vessels thus making blood circulation less efficient. Hypertension, if not controlled, can then lead to several heart problems such as heart attack and even severe neurological involvement such as stroke.
Immune System Problems
If a worker continues to call in sick, it could mean that his work is affecting his immunity making him more prone to develop infections or inflammatory processes. Colds, cough, or flu-like symptoms are indications that the immune system is not functioning at its best, making the person susceptible to invading microorganisms.
Too much work can produce mental instability as presented by erratic mood changes. Some persons become aggressive and violent, while others start to become depressed or lost hope. Relationships with co-workers, friends, and family grow strenuous and conflicting. There is no mental clarity, and at times it governed with manic behaviors. “A little stress is a good thing,” Mary Alvord, a clinical psychologist says. “It can motivate students to be organized. But too much stress can backfire.”
Effective Stress Management
Many workplaces encourage the practice of effective stress management to allow their employees to enjoy their work and be successful in their careers. Also, with proper handling of stress, work-life balance is achieved, and mindfulness of one’s being is promulgated. “Practicing stress relievers like breathing exercises and meditation can calm you down quickly, returning your body to normal,” according to Elizabeth Scott, MS, wellness coach. Career and life coaching are strongly recommended to assist and offer supportive counseling to persons who are having difficulties with their work and family relationships.
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