Here, experts from CONCERN, a Silicon Valley employee assistance program, explore common challenges workers face and practical solutions.
Why is workplace stress something people should take seriously?
Bob McIntyre, PhD, senior clinical services manager: Stress is a normal part of life, for sure. It can be invigorating, motivating, and inherent in challenges we face. But unhealthy levels of stress can manifest physically, through headaches, tension, fatigue, or poor sleep. Stress can also lead to feelings of helplessness, difficulty concentrating, and unhealthy behaviors like overeating or increased use of alcohol or drugs.
What are some ways to help stay calm?
McIntyre: Take care of yourself. Healthy eating, regular exercise, and good sleep are key. Work-life balance is critical. You need time away from your job to enjoy family, friends, and other activities. While at work, identify any sources of stress you can modify and do so, and find ways to cope effectively with what you can't change. Find meaning in your work. Believe you are contributing and making a difference, and remind yourself o en. Practice mindfulness techniques, take up yoga, learn to breathe. Get up from your seat during your day to get away.
Actually, there may be few things better for our overall health than a good walk. We can focus attention elsewhere and allow our bodies and thoughts time to calm down while the chemistry of exercise provides its energizing, healthful effects. Even better? Walk with a colleague!
Workplace wellness programs have gained popularity. If your organization doesn't have one, where should you start?
Denise Elbert, a CONCERN employee: A worksite wellness program needs to have support from all levels of the organization to be effective. Identify specific targets, and introduce strategies for achieving those targets. Some companies start with biometric screenings to help employees "know their numbers" (like blood pressure and blood glucose). The latest trend is addressing both the physical and emotional aspects of well-being. A wellness program might include options like online health information, tip sheets, organized events, challenges, and advice and support, by phone or face to face.
This article first appeared in the Fall 2015 edition of the El Camino Hospital Health Beat magazine.