Stress Is Hurting Leaders In Multiple Ways
As we shared in an earlier blog on How Stress Impacts the Workplace, numerous studies show that job stress is far and away the major source of stress for American adults and that it has escalated precariously over the past few decades.
Prolonged daily stress, and the resultant production and accumulation of adrenal cortisol in your body, also impacts your digestion system and metabolism, including your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Additionally, stress can cause your esophagus to go into spasm, increase stomach acid making you feel nauseous, affect the contractions of your digestive system, and even decrease the secretions needed for proper digestion.
The physical effects of stress include weight change, elevated blood pressure, indigestion, and inflammation. And adrenal fatigue from too many stress-fighting hormones rushing through your system is a cause of the mental effects of stress such as moodiness, irritability, and brain fog.
Interestingly, some of the so-called productivity tools we bring into our lives actually increase our stress levels instead of decreasing them. Smartphones are just one great example. The constant availability to check email and social media updates reduces our opportunities to switch off and give our brains a break.
Additionally, all the buzzes, bings, chimes, and other electronic noise notifications jolt our stress hormones into action similar to more dire fight-or-flight situations. Notice your reactions the next time your smartphone tells you there is something “important” for you to look at. Chances are, if you pause long enough to notice instead of instinctively reaching for your mobile device, you will likely detect a slight change in your breathing pattern, a quicker heartbeat, muscles contracting or tightening, a rumble of unease in the gastrointestinal area, or even some slight perspiration forming in your palms or above your eyes.
Are any of these physical disturbances, albeit as slight as they may be, worth the constant whirl of notifications? And, while small in nature, what will be the cumulative effect of these physical reactions over time on your overall health and wellbeing?
There is simply no need to live a life constantly tethered to a mobile device. At a minimum, turn off those social media notifications. When possible — and it is definitely possible — switch your mobile devices to airplane mode for an hour or two a day. You will be amazed at how refreshed and calm you feel during these mobile device sabbatical periods.
In an article in the Australian Financial Review (March 11, 2018), endocrinologist Robert Lustig of the University of California San Francisco says that, “Notifications from our phones are training our brains to be in a nearly constant state of stress and fear by establishing a stress-fear memory pathway. And such a state means that the prefrontal cortex, the part of our brains that normally deal with some of our highest-order cognitive functioning, goes completely haywire, and basically shuts down.”
Thus, workplace stress is an issue that leaders need to become increasingly concerned about, not only for their own health and decision-making capabilities, but for the general health and wellness of their employees.
This article is partially excerpted from my award-winning book Better Decisions Better Thinking Better Outcomes: How to go from Mind Full to Mindful Leadership, available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. The book is the recipient of a Silver Award from the Nonfiction Authors Association for bringing “a comprehensive plan of action for improving life through recognizing decision-making patterns that don’t serve us well, don’t enrich our lives, and don’t bring us to our goals and dreams.”