“Stressed? You’re not alone.”
Every year, Google releases “The Year in Search,” a cumulative tally, broken down any way you could imagine, of what we were Googling that year. It’s an interesting read – a year-in- review of sorts, tracking our interests and curiosities, but also a powerful insight into what we were worried about.
Four of the top ten searches in the Global News category for 2016 can be generally characterized as terrorism: Nice, Orlando Shooting, Brussels, Dallas Shooting. Right now, searches on North Korea are trending.
There are many conclusions we can draw from this information, but one thing is for sure. We are all, on some level, stressed.
The term “stress,” as we understand it today, was developed by a Hungarian endocrinologist Hans Selye. The American Institute of Stress has a good essay helping to define stress (https://www.stress.org/what-is-stress/), and it says this, “Stress was generally considered as being synonymous with distress and dictionaries defined it as “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension” or “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.”
Like so many other things, what constitutes “stress” is up for interpretation. One person’s stress is another person’s motivation. And indeed, research indicates that there’s a point of stress where we function optimally. Not only does that point differ person to person, but the drop-off in productivity is precipitous after we cross over it.
Stress, particularly chronic stress, can and will lead to a host of physical illness. People under chronic stress are at greater risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, skin disorders, ulcers, acid reflux, as well as being more susceptible to infection. People under chronic stress are also more likely to suffer with depression and anxiety.
That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news: We can all learn to manage stress.
For some people, vigorous exercise, meditation, yoga, or time with friends and family can be useful in combatting the effects. However, if whatever tool usually works for you is no longer effective, it might be time to seek out the help of a professional.
Coping mechanisms play a vital role in stress management, but the ultimate goal should be to identify the cause of stress and develop strategies to overcome or reduce it, and in that, enlisting the help of a therapist, even short-term, can be a valuable.
Here at Access: Supports for Living, we’re always looking for ways to help staff better manage stress, including providing stress management seminars and an Employee Assistance Program. We understand the importance of a healthy workplace and a healthy workforce.
There are volumes of information available on the Internet (Google it!) about stress reduction. The Federal Occupational Health Office has some particularly good suggestions, found here: http://foh.psc.gov/calendar/stress.html. And if you decide that you could benefit from talking to someone, Access’ Counselors can help. Visit our website, https://accesssupports.org/ or call 1-888- 750-2266 to schedule an appointment at one of our Counselling Centers.