Our conversation last week on the topic of stress resonated with a number of people who took the time to call and point out how the present economic climate in Alberta has contributed to the word stress being used more frequently than ever before.
The last 18 months of mass layoffs, cutbacks and increased workloads have contributed, in many organizations, to the creation of a climate of fear, anguish and increased bullying. Stress has caused colleagues to turn on each other, it has caused fear, suspicion and distrust to rise and hostile environments to replace previous settings of harmony and coexistence.
I heard from people who told me that every day is filled with fear as they wonder, “Will this be the day I lose my job?”
Others told me of increased expectations in their workplaces whereby their workloads have risen exponentially due to layoffs resulting in the same quantities of work to be done by far fewer people.
A physician friend of mine told me of the increase in the number of patients visiting his office presenting symptoms derived from the stress in their lives.
I heard stories of the many consecutive sleepless nights spent worrying about where the next dime was coming from and how the kids are going to be fed.
People shared with me their own growing insecurity around their effort to replace the jobs they had lost.
And a few shared with me stories of friends, relatives and acquaintances forced to sell their homes at a loss as they were moving to take new jobs in other provinces.
There is no question that, for many, these are exceptionally trying times. These times will pass but there are those who will never recover from what this last year and a half has done to them.
A long-time client of mine, a senior executive in a large energy company explained it to me this way. He said, “We’ve been through these times before, but in the past we’ve always been able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. This time things are different. This time we have no idea where the tunnel is.”
It is believed that over 40% of all adults suffer adverse health conditions caused by stress and that between 75 and 90% of visits to doctors are triggered by stress related causes.
It is known that stress can contribute to high blood pressure, heart ailments, skin conditions and many other health disorders.
Across the border in the US it is estimated that stress costs the economy more than $300 billion each year.
If ever there has been a time when we truly need to learn how to manage our stress in order to overcome adversity, that time is now.
Google the word stress and you will be presented with literally thousands of remedies and methods for managing, and even overcoming, the ill affects of stress. All of these, I’m sure, will provide relief to some and none will provide relief to all.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” in managing stress. I believe this; the stress we feel is triggered not by what is happening in our lives, but rather by the meaning we place on these very events.
I know this sounds overly simplistic but I have worked with hundreds of people who will attest to the fact that by applying a few simple “perspective shifting” techniques they have been able to shrink the knot in their stomach from watermelon size down to pea size.
If you are in the stressed out group described above, please reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let’s see if together we can make the intolerable tolerable.
We may not be able to fix the cause but we can certainly lower the affect.
As my friends then 5-year-old son once told me, “There are two ways we can do this. The hard way or the easy way.”
Till we read again.