Mark Lyttleton: How to Manage and Reduce Stress
Not scientifically reviewed by Dr. Eeks
Mark Lyttleton is a business mentor, speaker and angel investor. In addition to offering entrepreneurs strategic planning and financial support he also provides personal advice, helping founders to deal with the considerable stresses involved in establishing and growing a successful business. A certified Pranic Healer, Mark Lyttleton takes a particular interest in mental health and working smart to achieve an improved work-life balance. This article will explore the impact of stress on workplaces today, sharing strategies to mitigate and manage it.
When it comes to workplace stress, the line between business and personal issues can easily become blurred. Although the origins of stress may lie in the employee’s personal life, its impact in the workplace can be huge, damaging productivity and ultimately the business.
Recent research reveals that stress is a significant problem in UK workforces, with two out of three employees reporting that they have attended work while feeling ill – with much of this illness arising as a direct consequence of stress. Presenteeism, or working while sick, is a hidden cause of reduced productivity, but since it is harder to identify than absenteeism, it is generally much tougher to remedy.
From the employer’s perspective, it is crucial to take steps to identify stress in the workforce, raising employee awareness and putting in place policies, processes and procedures to help alleviate and deal with stress.
Essentially, stress is a feeling of being under too much pressure. It can stem from a wide variety of different sources, such as a quarrel with a family member, financial worries or an increased workload. Stress affects people in different ways, having both an emotional and physical impact to varying degrees. Research shows that stress can have a positive impact in certain situations, making people more alert and helping them to perform better in some circumstances – for example, during an exam. However, these benefits have been found to be relatively short-lived. Prolonged and excessive stress can trigger numerous illnesses, including mental health problems like depression and anxiety and physical health conditions like heart disease.
Triggered by a rush of adrenaline and noradrenaline, stress provokes the ‘fight or flight’ response, increasing the heart rate, triggering perspiration and preparing the body for an emergency response. Stress hormones like cortisol affect the metabolic system, boosting energy and reducing stomach activity and blood flow. Physical symptoms of stress can include muscle tension, headaches, nausea, dizziness, pain and indigestion. It can also cause palpitations. Prolonged stress makes an individual more susceptible to heart attacks and strokes.
Signs of stress include anxiety and constant worry, difficulty concentrating and feelings of being overwhelmed. Stress can cause mood swings and irritability, low self-esteem and depression, affecting a person’s sleeping habits, causing them to eat more or less than usual and making it hard for them to switch off and relax.
All kinds of situations can cause stress. The most common involve money, work and relationships with partners or family members.
In terms of dealing with stress, the first step is to identify the cause. The most unhelpful thing an individual can do is turn to something like smoking or drinking to help them cope, as this is likely to only make their problems worse. Effective management hinges on building emotional strength, having a good social network, adopting a positive outlook and taking control of the situation.
Although physical exercise is not a silver bullet, it can help alleviate stress considerably, boosting confidence as well as providing an outlet for frustration and helping the person to think more calmly.
Connecting with other people and indulging in hobbies are both important in terms of helping people to relax. Talking through problems with a friend can be a welcome release. In addition, setting challenges and goals, whether within or outside of the workplace, can also help build self-esteem – a critical factor in tackling stress.
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