There are few things in society more pervasive than stress, especially during the COVID 19 pandemic. It is something experienced by most people yet has different origins and manifestations. What causes stress for your colleague may not even warrant a second thought from you. Although stress usually (and rightfully) has negative connotations, not all stress is bad!
Good Stress, also known as eustress, makes us feel alive and is beneficial in moderation. It can be experienced on a thrilling ride, watching a sports match, or on a date. But, as surprising as it may sound, eustress doesn’t usually require management. That distinction is reserved for the negative types of stress.
The first step in managing stress is knowing what is most common in your life. Here are the definitions of the three major types of stress according to the American Psychological Association:
Acute: This is the most common form of stress. It usually stems from near-past and/or future demands. Acute stress can be exciting (eustress), however, too much can lead to psychological distress, tension headaches, upset stomachs, and other symptoms. Acute stress is highly treatable because it can easily be managed.
Episodic Acute: This is experienced by people whose lives are constantly in chaos. They’re always in a hurry or late, take on too much and can’t seem to cope, and needlessly worry. Symptoms can include headaches (tension and migraine), hypertension, chest pain, and heart disease. Treatment for this type of stress requires a multilevel approach. Habits are so ingrained that individuals have trouble acknowledging what’s wrong. As a result, treatment is difficult and often lengthy.
Chronic: This is the stress that wears away every day, every month, and every year. It has the power to seriously affect our minds and bodies. While different for everyone, common causes tend to be related to money, family, marriage, work, and health. Due to its long-term nature, chronic stress poses great danger. Individuals give up looking for solutions and get used to the stress. Symptoms can include anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, a weakened immune system, violence, heart attack, stroke, and even suicide. Treatment is difficult and often extended as it typically requires medical and behavioral approaches.
Of these three types of stress, episodic acute and chronic stress are the most insidious. This is due to their persistent nature and fact that individuals may not recognize the long-term effect it can have on their lives.
Stress is an aspect of the employee experience that should not be overlooked. By incorporating stress education and management techniques during the time of the pandemic, you’ll be taking significant steps towards transforming your employees’ experience. This also promotes mental well-being for yourself and your employees.
For effective stress management, education is important. Within the workplace education involves several aspects we’ve covered in this series such as multitasking, unplugging after work, exercise and mindfulness and meditation.
Stress management tips include:
Tracking personal stressors and responses,
Having clarity on work expectations and requirements,
Avoiding workplace conflict/drama,
Staying organized, and
Having workplace satisfaction and happiness.
The best way to educate your workforce on stress is to start with your management team. If you’re interested in developing a concrete action plan, I can help! Contact me here.