“Stress? Not me mate!”
A good friend of mine recently reminded me of a perennial problem with being a manager that we conveniently forget about from time to time but that never goes away.
Eight out of ten executives suffer from Stress. Seven out of the eight deny it!
Stress tends to be a macho thing. “Stress? I never suffer from Stress, give me as much as you like, I can take it!”
This is, of course, crazy. Stress is a real thing in business and if it is not managed properly it will reduce performance, cause illnesses and eventually kill you.
Stress on the other hand, is a good thing. We often perform better under stress. As a speaker I am able to perform much better when the adrenaline is rushing round my body and that adrenaline is released by stress. So we have to find a balance.
The body’s reaction to stress is a natural thing and in a very real sense is one of the reasons that humans have been successful on our planet. 20,000 years ago the only stress we had would be fear when we came face to face with a sabre-toothed tiger for instance, when we went out in search of supper.
Our bodies react to that in a way that helps us to fight or run away. Our breathing gets faster to get more oxygen into the blood stream, our heart beats faster to pump the blood round the body faster, our seances heighten, adrenaline is pumped round the body to make the muscles stronger and the brain more active, the stomach stops digesting food and shuts down along with all the other nonessential bodily processes, we perspire more to keep us cool as we fight or run.
It is entirely natural for our body to react in this way for a short period of time but the sort of stress we have at work nowadays prolongs these reactions for eight or more hours with predictable results.
Are you suffering from too much stress at the moment?
They say that death is nature’s way of telling you to slow down, but in fact you do not need to wait that long. Your body is telling you how it feels about stress and all you have to do is listen, Consider the following symptoms and mentally tick them off if you recognise them.
You find it difficult to concentrate. Simple decisions become big problems. Your thinking becomes muddled.
What you are looking for right now is a change in the way you react to things. If your thinking has always been muddled do not worry too much.
You become edgy and unreasonable. You tire easily. Your eating patterns change. Your sleep patterns change. Your muscles tense for no particular reason. You vomit for no apparent reason. You begin to have uncharacteristic memory lapses. You get chest pains that you can’t account for. You get high blood pressure
If you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms be aware that you are probably suffering from stress so you had better do something about it.
Research shows that 37 Million working days were lost to stress related illnesses last year in England. Here in South Africa the figures are likely to be much the same.
Respiratory illness is 4 times more likely to happen to people who have recently suffered from stress.
Stress kills, particularly after bereavement. Research shows that people who lose their spouse are 6 times more likely to die from heart disease during the following year.
Type A behaviour dramatically increases your chances of having a heart attack. (Type A is a more stressful lifestyle) In most first world cultures the increase is 7 times. Type A behaviour, if continued, will greatly increase the chance of a second heart attack.
Continued stress also leads to ulcers, digestive problems, migraine, chest pains, cancer, arthritis and effects your immune system leaving yourself open to all sorts of other diseases.
If you are suffering from stress do something about it before it is too late.