Stress in the Workplace
By Maureen Kennedy Salaman
Not to be taken lightly is the bodys response to stress. The endocrine system essential to a properly functioning immune system is the first victim of stress. Stress so exhausts the adrenals that the body responds by producing more adrenaline, a hormone. Have you ever experienced a hot flash of embarrassment or a rush of adrenaline when on a roller coaster? Or, do you know the feeling when you are very angry or frightened and blood rushes to your head and you feel almost dizzy?
These are your adrenals responses to stress. When stress is constant, the adrenals become overloaded, and your body suffers. Adrenaline increases your heart rate and blood pressure, causing your veins to dilate and blood sugar to rise. Circulation through your lungs, liver and skeletal muscles increases by as much as one hundred percent. The released adrenaline can give you indigestion, make you infertile and cause you to be malnourished. While you arent necessarily conscious of all the changes that take place, what you might notice is your jaw clenching, stomach tightening and palms sweating.
The stressors dont have to be real either. What happens to you when your boss announces, Do you have some time later? I need to talk to you. Your mind goes through the worst possible scenario, and youre a nervous wreck until the mystery is solved.
The human nervous system cannot tell the difference between an actual experience and an experience imagined vividly and in detail. Thinking about a given situation without actually being physically involved may be more harmful than the real thing. Researchers have found that people watching a sports event released a higher proportion of adrenaline than those actually playing. This is because when we physically respond to a stress, it allows our body to release adrenaline rather than penting it up and turning it inward. The physical response is a defense mechanism, not to mention an almost instinctive reaction.
Up to 80 percent of health problems today are considered stress- related. These include high blood pressure, heart disease, ulcers and an inability to fight infections.
What can you do? First, do what comes naturally. Dont fight it. If your boss or manager is a real control freak and just being in the same room with him or her raises your blood pressure, imagine doing something about it. A friend of mine imagines her boss with a bloody nose, or something simi-larily as embarrassing. Remember, real or imagined, it works the same way. Rather than actually punching someone out, just imagine doing it. If you feel threatened enough to flee, then make your excuses and get out of there. A five-minute breather in the bathroom putting things in perspective can help get you through that politically-charged personnel meeting or negative evaluation.
Avoid the guilt. Dont think about what you did or didnt do, or what you could have done. Some things are just out of our control. Accept that. It is possible nothing could have been done to prevent that mistake or misunderstanding. And if there is something to be learned by it, then grab onto that, like a rope that will pull you out of the river. Emphasize to others the lesson learned, and never look back.
Create a positive out of a negative. Its bad, really bad, and nothing will change it. But if what you have learned or what you have gained can help someone else, or make a statement, or change a policy, then turn your negative into a positive, and make a difference. You might just save someone else.
Ask and you shall receive. If you need something, advice or feedback, ask someone. The best workers are those who admit when they have met a limitation and ask for assistance. It also gives up a little responsibility and pressure. You cant know it all, and you arent expected to. The support and assistance of others is another tool for buffering against stress. It helps, it really does!
Protect yourself physically by fortifying your body. Force yourself to eat, even if you dont feel like it. You dont need a lot of food, but you should drink lots of water. The effects of stress on the body depletes nutrients and dehydrates the body of water. Nibble on fruits and vegetables. Order fruit smoothies at the bar, minus the alcohol. Certain supplements help when the body is under stress. Target vitamin C with bioflavonoids; take at least 500 milligrams a few times a day. Take a B-complex formula, emphasizing B12 and B6. The B vitamins are especially important when under stress. Avoid meat and hard to digest food like heavy cream dairy products. Eat small meals, raw because they contain the enzymes needed for digestion, and salads with vinegar. Chew well, dont eat meals in a hurry. Think snacks, especially whole grains, which contain B vitamins.
Most importantly, remember that nothing lasts forever. When you think it cant get worse, count on it getting better.
Maureen Kennedy Salaman, the First Lady of Nutrition, is an internationally-known award-winning author and lecturer. She is the author of six books All Your Health Questions Answered Naturally, Foods That Heal, Nutrition: The Cancer Answer I & II, The Diet Bible, The Light at the End of the Refrigerator-Cookbook as well as the Nutrition Bites Newsletter. Maureen is a highly-respected and regarded author and lecturer in the field of health and nutrition, with more than 30 years of experience. For questions or book orders, please call (800) 445-4325. For information, appearances or public relations contact: Hope Daly at MKS, Inc., 1259 El Camino Real, Suite 1500, Menlo Park, California 94025 or call (650) 854-3922. You may check out the website at www.mksalaman.com .
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