According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide.
The link between mind and body is far deeper than we may have realised. You only have to listen to Ted’s Radio Hour episode entitled ‘Hardwired’ to come to the stark realisation that stress and how we respond to it plays profounding roles on the biology of our bodies, right down to the cellular level. From changing the number of white blood cells (immunity) in the bloodstream to affecting important DNA systems, the onset of stress can be deemed beneficial in short bouts but staggeringly damaging if prolonged.
“People are disturbed not by a thing, but by their perception of a thing.” — Epictetus
I write about stress today as I recline on my couch with a cup of tea in my hand, I’m overcome with the sensation of a pain in my lower stomach I soon come to realise is the release of tension I’d been carrying around all day. My shoulders lower, my jaw relaxes. My body deals with stress by tensing up, perhaps yours does too. I doubt anyone enjoys these sensations despite people saying they flirt with fear for the ’kick’. Perhaps they do momentarily but I doubt they want that affair to become full-blown mariage! As my body begins to relax, my mind starts to wonder – why am I so stressed, what effect is this having on me?
Stress can enter the arena of our lives from a range of areas. From both internal and external sources, be it our own thoughts, the relationships we have with others, and our work environment to name but a few.
With stress mounting from various locations, it begs the question, who’s duty is it to alleviate the stress? Society? Your loved ones? Yourself?
Not pointing fingers but to not tip toe around the point of how stress-inducing the workplace can be. With the study conducted by Mind, the mental health charity, showing that 1 in 3 of us find worklife either quite or very stressful, that workplace stress has lead to an increase in suicidal thoughts. We therefore can’t shy away from the problems with worklife structure.
As much as stress comes down to our own perception of it, our internal coping mechanism, I so too believe that certain (external) facilitators in reducing the levels of stress experienced in our environment should be implemented. Specifically in that of the workplace. Do you think the same?
Another reason I wanted to write this post was to share with you the benefits I felt when my workplace did just that. I work for a TV broadcasting company and to my surprise they arranged for a handful of fortunate individuals to gain a dose of ‘puppy cuddling’ (paws for life). Chosen by signing up on a first come first serve basis I was so pleased when informed that I’d gotten a place. Losing 30 mins of my time from work meant the company and I both actually benefited. I went back to my desk with a buzz and was alot more productive for the remainder of the day.
As you can see below:
What does your workplace do to reduce stress levels in your life?
And the even bigger question – what do you do personally to reduce the stress in your life?