Are you kidding me?
No I’m certainly not kidding! Most organizations handle stress at the door. You are puzzled?
Do you have a job? Then you made it through the door, HIRED!
Corporations and other organizations want to be sure the people they hire can perform and contribute. They checked your record of past work, your education, and your attitude and behavior during the interview process.
Companies don’t really think about that process as keeping stress out. They just look at performance and potential. There are 2 reasons they don’t even think about stress.
Why should you care?
Because it is not enough that you made it through the “Door”. There is always stress at work, at home and everywhere. That’s a normal part of life. In terms of neuroscience the survival programming deep in the subconscious part of your brain will always be challenged. How well you deal with it affects not only your work and career progress. How well you deal with it affects your personal life, health, happiness and your loved ones around you.
That’s why it pays to be alert to how you manage your stress.
Personal stress management - WHY?
First, stress instantly affects your performance. There is less blood and oxygen in the thinking part of your brain. Plus your stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline tend to make you either overly aggressive or defensive. The latter happens when you perceive yourself in a situation as powerless. This can happen at work and at home.
Secondly, over time stress sabotages your health. Cortisol keeps you awake and restless at night. Poor sleep causes you more stress the next day. Stress causes your liver to put more glucose into your blood. Sitting at your desk will cause it to be turned into fat. Stress increases your cravings for sweets and fat, you know what that means. Stress will reduce the blood flow to your digestive system thus debilitating your metabolism. It increases your blood pressure and heart rate. Over time these factors will increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and being overweight.
What can you do?
There is a lot you can do to avoid the negative effects of stress. It will take a whole book to do this because all of the ways you can reduce stress. So for today let’s just provide a brief summary.
Keep a positive attitude
Stress has a lot to do with how you perceive the situation. For example, somebody gets fired. Someone with a very positive attitude will say, “hey this is a great opportunity to look for a better job.” Another one who is in the habit of always looking at the negative side will feel terrible and depressed. A little oversimplified, but attitude has a lot to do with it. Stress has a lot to do with whether we perceive a situation as threatening our survival or not.
Move, walk and exercise
Moving your body and exercise has a huge positive impact on managing your stress. There is a simple reason for that. Stress is a result of our most basic survival impulse, fight or flight. The stress response mobilizes everything in your body to move quickly, either to run away or to fight for your survival. When you move and exercise your body can normalize again without leaving negative side effects.
Eat healthy food
The main functions of your body, metabolism, digestion and brain functions haven’t changed much in the last 50,000 years. That’s why the stress and survival functions still follow the ancient rules of millennia ago. That’s also true for the kind of food your body can use to be healthy. Your body thrives on natural foods of the hunters and gatherers. Fresh green vegetables and legumes, some fruits and nuts, perhaps some white grains and seeds, and animal proteins and fat.
Laughter, meditation, mindfulness and yoga
A good belly laugh can reduce stress in your body for up to 4 hours! Meditation, mindfulness and yoga all relax your body and calm your anxious brain. These practices are not always easy to use during high stress. They take discipline, training and persistence. Yet the effect can make your life easier and more fulfilling.
What to avoid
There was no refined sugar then. There were no processed foods designed to addict your taste buds and maintain weeks and months of shelf life. Why do they put sugar in everything from bread to even hot dogs and sausages? Because sugar is so addictive you eat more of their products. An extreme example is beef jerky which is supposed to be a healthy protein. It has often 4 to 6 grams of sugar added to it. The same is true for much of so-called “healthy” whole grain bread. Sugar puts enormous stress on your health and well-being. It is causes of low-grade inflammation which results in muscle and body aches. Cutting out sugar is difficult because it’s so addictive. To help you there dozens of books available.
High stress organizations
Organizations just like people have their own stress profile. Sometimes the business is super high paced and demanding. But if the company has good policies, systems and management these demands can be fun, exciting and challenging in a positive way. Then the stress can be managed well. On the other hand there are organizations which have dysfunctional systems and bad policies, even abusive management. That makes it hard or impossible to handle your stress. It may be time to look discreetly for a better company and job.
Getting shown to the door - FIRED
If people don’t function well the organization will send them out. For the organization to function well, they cannot have people who don't deal with stress effectively and therefore don’t do their job well. You can look at the top ten negative effects of stress and see how they will inevitably cause problems at work and in business. Therefore, it’s so important to keep your stress down. This allows you to perform at your best. This makes you most competitive and least expendable. The company will need you even in difficult times when others have to leave.
Getting an edge - GOOD STRESS MANAGEMENT
Now it is clear that good stress management can really give you an edge. Not only does it make your life easier. It makes your work and profession more fun. Ease and fun make your body and your mind healthier and happier. Isn’t that worth getting into a habit of managing your stress well?
Your expert, working hard to keep stress low and managed with ease,
Fred George Sauer
Fred George Sauer Founder of SciStress
Find Out More