Fifty years ago, the term “stress” was not a typical topic of conversation. Today, “stress” has become a household word. We talk about stress at work or stress in our families, as if we know what the term means. Yet, stress is a very misunderstood concept.
One popular myth is that stress is “all in your head.” In fact, stress may begin with our attitudes, but the end result is purely physical. Our body tells us we are under stress long before our head understands what is happening. We find ourselves eating too much or too little; our sleep is disturbed; our heart races; our blood pressure increases. Regardless of the source, it all adds up to the same thing – stress.
How is health is affected? Stress actually lowers our body’s natural resistance to common viruses. Also, stress (in combination with other health risk factors such as high cholesterol, hypertension, being overweight, smoking, and drinking) can increase the risk for coronary heart disease. This is serious business!
Stress also interferes with our ability to function. High levels of stress affect our concentration at work. Have you ever wished you could accomplish more but your mind was “elsewhere?” Chances are stress was the culprit.
Remember, if you don’t learn to manage the stress you have, the stress you have will manage you.
Here is a simple checklist to assess when your stress levels are too high:
- Irritability and frequent signs of anger
- Obsessive worrying that interferes with job performance
- Sleep disturbances caused by concern over minor problems
- Fluctuations in weight caused by erratic eating habits
- Frequent or prolonged minor illnesses causing you to use more sick days than you would like
- Overuse of alcohol or drugs to relax
If you have any of these symptoms, your stress levels may be dangerously high. If SOLUTIONS is your EAP, please call us at 1-800-766-0068 for professional, confidential consultation.