Is stress affecting your work? Or perhaps you’re seeing warning signs that others in your workplace may be buckling under the pressure of too much stress?
In many work environments, being busy and under pressure is a sign of importance and stress is all too often worn as a badge honor. For this reason, many workers are often reluctant to let others know they’re stressed or suffering from the pressure. However, if you’re feeling too much stress, it not only affects you, but it can impact others around you as well as your company.
Eustress, which experts define as “good stress,” helps to keep you motivated, focused, and push you through some challenging projects. On the other hand, distress can be crippling.
Distress is an overload of Eustress, where the good stress stacks up to become more than you can cope with. So, what are the signs that your Eustress has tipped over into the danger zone?
You might notice symptoms manifesting in your emotions, behavior, thoughts, or physical wellness. For the sake of your long-term mental and physical health and for that of your employees’, it’s important to notice signs of high stress levels as soon as possible.
Your Brain Just Isn’t The Same
One of the first things to go when we are experiencing high stress levels is our cognitive functioning. If you find you are experiencing abnormal anxious thoughts, an inability to concentrate, or are having trouble remembering things, your body is likely responding to stress.
Your coworkers may notice emotional irregularities before you clue into them, but it likely won’t take long for you to ask yourself, “what’s going on with me?”
Emotional symptoms can include feeling depressed, irritable, lonely, pessimistic, or anxious. In the office, these intrinsic shifts will quickly affect the way you carry yourself, interact with others, and the quality of your work.
Bad Habits Creep Into Your Routine
Last week, you were a healthy, responsible creature of habit with a great diet and regular workout routine. This week, you couldn’t be more different.
Stress hits our eating habits hard. For some, stress may result in a loss of appetite while for others the release of cortisol produces intense cravings for anything fatty or full of sugar and salt. Your use of alcohol and cigarettes may also increase in your body’s attempt to relax itself.
Sleep and work habits fall victim to stress too; Sleeping too much or too little and uncharacteristic procrastination are indicators of a body and mind being plagued by stress.
Numerous studies have shown that stress has a strong correlation to health problems like obesity, depression, and asthma – to name a few. Hopefully you will notice the more immediate symptoms and avoid these serious health conditions.
Many people report having aches and pain throughout their body, often followed by catching a cold or the flu. With or without a cold, you may see other cold-like symptoms emerge like dizziness, nausea, a loss of sex drive, diarrhea, constipation, and chest pain.
The perceived magnitude of the events stressing you out is not a reliable indicator of how stressed you actually are – your body can react just as strongly to an argument with a co-worker as if you’re facing a true life-or-death situation.
Choosing to push through stress, regarding it as a temporary state that you will leave behind in a week or so, is not an advisable choice of action. The more your emergency stress system is activated, the easier it becomes to trigger and the harder it becomes to shut off.
The real key to minimizing the impacts of stress is to catch it at its initiation, and examine what you could be doing differently to help out your body and mind. A full day at the spa may have you on a cloud for a few hours, but come Monday – when you are back to your everyday routine- your triggers will be waiting for you.
Take some time to research techniques for stress prevention and management that you can use inside and outside the office. You may find breathing exercises, meditation, or a lunch-hour workout does wonders for providing mental space and inner calmness.
If you manage employees, be sure to check-in regularly with them about their stress levels. Remember that recognizing your staff for their hard work helps them feel valued and can infuse them with positivity and appreciation. You may also consider programs to promote recognition and wellness in order to boost overall morale.
Many organizations are getting an immediate ROI from investments in these types of programs in the form of a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.