Work stress, the art of balancing
What does work stress do to us?
Let’s start be setting it straight that occasional stress is not a problem. It makes you sharper, prepares us for acting which is often quite handy be it in a workplace situation or other. Beside that the human stress reaction increases our heartrate and our breath, increases our blood sugar level and directs blood from your organs to your muscles (if you have to run from bad emails or actually because in the past this was key to our survival). If these state happens continuously or too often it can lead to cardiovascural problems or even type II diabetes. Honestly, think about any health condition and chronic stress is a factor in either developing it or making it worse.
This takes us to burn out which is defined by WHO as the following: diagnosis which develops from mismanaged work stress. It’s symptoms are:
Reading this it’s easy to comprehend neither the employer nor the employee are well off with work stress. Too much stress impacts the mental and physical healthy of the employee while employers get an irritable, negative and less efficient person from exhaustion.
How can yoga, breathing exercises and meditation help?
By decreasing stress
Even a 90 minute class will probably decreases your chortizol level (stress hormone)!
The sympathetic nervous system’s job is to prepare us for stressful situations and protect us from danger. As I wrote above, it increases blood pressure, activates the muscles and increases blood sugar level. It makes you ready for fighting.
The parasympathetic nervous system does exactly the opposite. It helps you relax, calm down, slower your heart rate, decrease your blood pressure. In our noisy modern world, the constant rush and stress it doesn’t often play its part. Yoga practice decreases the intensity of the sympathetic reaction and actives a parasympathetic counter reaction. That is yoga practice alters how you react to stress. Your stress reaction becomes less intensive and you can calm down easier.*
By being less involved emotionally
Meditation and breathing exercises impact the limbic system which is the part of our brain responsible for emotions and memories. Constant practice decreases brain activity in this area which means you’ll be less reactive in stressful situations. This can help you not say things you would regret later but it can also come in handy if you feel you can’t think straight in stressful situations. Goodbye freezing down!
By changing your brain
Our brain is capable of changing and according to latest research* yoga impacts the structure and functionality of it. In those who practice yoga regularly activity in the left pre-frontal cortex increases. Research shows that in those in whom this part of the brain is more active are generally in a better mood. Who wouldn’t want a bit of positivity when facing adversity?
What can you do today?
Do you have 15 minutes to do something for your body and mind?
Here is a practice based on short yoga moves for the end of the day which you can do without changing your clothes. You could call it: “Apology to my back for sitting all day”.
Take this with you
Please keep in mind not all types of stress are bad. Occasional excitement is a normal reaction and does not harm you. Chronic work-stress is a complex problem though which is harmful both physically and mentally. Yoga, breathing exercises and meditation can help you better manage it, but to identify the main reason of your increased work-stress you’ll need the help of your colleagues. Protect yourself with yoga and take to your boss to change this situation.
*For this blog episode I used many researches from this article:
Harvard Health Publications. “An Introduction to Yoga”