Stressed Out: Solving for Stress in the Workplace

All Complementary Benefits Executive Health July 28, 2016

Company leaders are more prone to health issues due to the nature of their jobs. They are at a higher risk for heart disease, are more inclined to having elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure, and are subject to chronic stress.

Of the issues in that list, you may think that stress is the least malicious, especially since everyone experiences stress from time to time regardless of their job. The truth is, a little stress can be a good thing, or in the right situation, a great thing—like how in a life or death situation, stress activates your fight or flight instincts.

But prolonged stress can have serious adverse health effects, for example:

  • Compromised immune system: A little stress can stimulate your immune system to ward off infection, but a lot over time can make it weaker. People with chronic stress are more susceptible to viral illnesses, diseases, and infections.
  • Heart disease: Stress makes your heart beat faster so that you can take action, but over time stress makes your heart work too hard for too long, putting you at risk for lots of heart related issues.
  • Irritability, anxiety and depression: Your central nervous system (CNS) is in charge of the fight or flight response. When the stressor is gone, the CNS is supposed to have your body go back to normal, but with chronic stress CNS doesn’t go back to normal or the stressor doesn’t go away, taking a serious toll on your body. In addition to irritability, anxiety and depression, this can lead to headaches, insomnia, drug or alcohol abuse or social withdrawal.
  • Additional effects

Wellness with a Focus on Stress Relief

Companies have begun to realize the dangerous effects of stress, as well as the monetary costs associated with stress-related loss in productivity or even loss of employees in extreme circumstances. Employers are finding it advantageous to implement wellness programs with a focus on relieving stress. The costs of such programs tend to outweigh the cons they would otherwise face.

Some companies provide mental health guides and make employees prioritize exercise like they would an important meeting, since exercise has been shown to reduce stress. Meditation and yoga classes can also help. Even offering financial advice may give an employee the peace of mind they need to relax.

Employers can also take into consideration workload and paid time off. Many don’t take all of their paid time off because they feel like there won’t be enough time to complete what they have to do or there won’t be someone there to get the necessary work done. Employers should encourage employees to take time off and make sure they have enough workers hired to handle workloads when employees are out.

Protection for Those at Risk

Unfortunately, as is often the case with company leaders and executives, lots of stress just comes with the job. Keeping healthy, exercising, and eating right are still great behaviors that can help manage stress, but in certain positions the stress can be unavoidable. So now what?

This is why it is so important for company leaders to have access to a great health plan that can benchmark stress-related conditions, get them access to great specialists when necessary, and can get them help, no matter where they are, if an unexpected health issue arises. Ultimate Health, our supplemental healthcare reimbursement plan, for example, provides an Executive Physical Program, TopDoc Connect, and emergency travel and medical services.

Stress wears on the body, so having a health plan that can provide the best care for these already at-risk individuals is vital for both the employee and the employer.

Sources:
Bench Mental Health Guide.” Inc.com 
Wellness Programs Take Aim at Workplace Stress.” NPR. 
Stress Effects on Body.” Healthline. 

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