Can stress kill you? It’s an obvious question to ask or an obvious conclusion to make due to the global stress epidemic we’re currently under (as identified by the World Health Organization report in 2007).
According to a report by the American Institute of Stress, 75% of employees believe that workers have more on-the-job stress than a generation ago.
Furthermore, 40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful, and 25% state that their job is the number one stressor in their lives.
Thanks to our overwork culture, we’re being bombarded by multiple stressors from multiple directions, all the time, causing stress levels that previous generations weren’t exposed to.
Stress and stress management is a topic that’s showing up everywhere you look, from TV to social media to print, while billions are being spent each year on research, drugs and education initiatives.
So… can you die from stress?
But occupational stress can be responsible for triggering diseases or other causes of sudden death such as a heart attack.
Stress symptoms are the first warning signal from your body that something’s not right and if left unchecked, can lead to burnout, quitting your job or severe long term health issues.
So what does feel like exactly?
Well, it’s different for everyone, but if you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, frantic, your heart is racing at work, or feel anxiety when you think about work or are on the way to work, you’re experiencing stress.
Are you experiencing one or more of these common symptoms of stress…? (And would you like to know how to get rid of them? Read on for my top 5 techniques)
- Heart palpitations
- Frequent colds and flus
- Frequent headaches
- Skin problems/conditions
- Lowered libido
- Loss of appetite
- Gut problems
- Nervousness and worry
- Increased irritability and annoyance
- Difficulty focusing
- Increased worry about work or life
- Increased aggravation and anger
- Comfort eating including sugar cravings and salt cravings
- Increased desire for alcohol, cigarettes, vaping or illicit drugs
- Lower back pain
- Fatigue, exhaustion, constant tiredness
- Muscle aches and pains
- Hormone changes/disruption
- Increased muscular tension
- Despair or giving up easily
- Increasing trouble in relationships
- Increased fear of the future
- Easily frustrated, ‘short fuse’
Now that we know many of the common stress symptoms that you can easily identify, let’s discuss the consequences and how work stress kills you in many different ways…
AND more importantly, the solutions YOU can use to take control of stress within minutes (LITERALLY)
How Work Stress Kills You
Work stress, like many other mental health issues (and physical health issues) are ‘all encompassing’, meaning, it can affect every area of your life. It’s stress stress stress from 9-5 and beyond for many people.
Its effects are subtle at first, then the knocks get louder.
Will stress kill you? Not immediately, but stress has been linked to many physical and mental issues. Experiencing one or more symptoms of work stress in your daily life can be considered as signs stress is killing you (and it can happen subtly).
Here are some of the many ways work stress kills you…
Work Stress Kills Your Career
The first and most obvious way that work stress kills you is in your career.
If you’re too stressed, you can’t work. Period.
Stressed has killed more careers than probably any other disorder, but it’s rarely identified as such.
You have that feeling that you just want to escape… the task, the project, the job itself and even the industry and career path you’ve chosen.
But if you escape, you could also be leaving behind a big salary, let alone the years you’ve given to your chosen career path. So you’re caught between a rock and a hard place juggling the work/life balance.
If you quit your job because of work stress, what comes next? This question can cause anxiety in itself.
So quitting isn’t usually the best strategy, especially if you’re leaving behind a lucrative salary and career, and potentially your financial security in your later years.
Work Stress Kills Your Financial Security
If you can’t work, you can’t earn. Which is why work stress can have a huge impact on your finances and financial security.
Setting yourself up for retirement takes time, which is why the idea of throwing away a career you’ve dedicated your life to is a very tough decision, as your future security is then also at risk.
Also, when you’re constantly stressed, you’re processing things more emotionally. And making financial decisions charged with emotion can also have disastrous effects on your financial well-being, which in turn further affects your mental well-being.
Job stress can lead to money stress, so it’s important to take action to get rid of stress from your job and from your life.
Work Stress Kills Your Self-Esteem
Work stress messes with your mind because at its worse, it threatens your very livelihood. And in our modern world, our livelihood is often linked to our identity.
If you need proof of this, think about one of the top three questions someone asks when they meet you… ‘So, what do you do?’
And if we don’t ‘do’ anything, that very question can bring up feelings of inadequacy, insecurity and low self worth. Along with this comes low self-esteem.
If your future is threatened because of intense work stress feelings to the point you’re think of quitting your job or switching careers entirely, this can have a massive impact on your self-esteem and your confidence to move forward in any new direction.
As members of the animal kingdom, when we’re threatened, one response is to freeze. Another response is to flee and another response is to bury our head in the sand and play the denial game.
All of this wreaks havoc on your self-esteem which can have a negative domino effect on your future in many different areas of life.
Work Stress Kills Your Motivation
When you’re having ongoing feelings of stress, anxiety and pressure there’s no space for motivation. In fact, you’re at risk of having zero motivation, to the point where getting out of bed just feels impossible.
If you compare your first month at your job to the past month you’ve had at your job, the feelings you’re experiencing are at opposite ends of the scale.
Work stress is debilitating. It drains you, it exhausts you and you’ll likely feel like giving up completely and throwing in the towel.
Any hope you ever had of the future, within your job, the company or even the industry can be dashed completely as a result of work-related stress.
Work Stress Kills Hope
Human beings are hard-wired to have hope for the future. Otherwise, what’s the point of all this?
‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’ (Proverbs 29:18)
Hope for the future not only gets you out of bed in the morning; it can literally be the difference between life and death.
Suicide rates have risen steadily since 1990. Approximately one person in 5,000–15,000 dies by suicide every year. And while there are many causes of suicide, one can assume that to reach of point of deciding to suicide, the person has given up hope for the future.
When you feel stressed and also trapped by your job, by the need to earn money to live, it’s very easy to feel like it’s going to be like this forever.
Giving up your job can mean giving up your identity, your financial security, you’re ability to provide for your family, and your ability to exist on a month to month basis.
If all hope is lost, what comes next?
Work Stress Kills Your Relationship
If you’re not your usual self, how can you be the person your partner fell in love with? And how will you partner respond to you if you’re lashing out as a result of chronic work stress?
Work stress generates negative feelings inside you, and your mind/body is seeking an outlet.
There’s positive outlets and negative outlets.
Several negative outlets often include strong emotional reactions to situations and people that would normally not bother you.
So if you’re experiencing greater levels of frustration, anger, rage and even resorting to physical abuse, it’s time to take stock of the real source of these emotions.
Because, the problem is, in our modern world, we’re all supposed to present to the world in a socially acceptable way. After all, for our ancestors, social rejection from their tribe meant certain death.
In an effort to fit in, we have to hold our tongue and supress our true thoughts and feelings. This is often to the detriment of our significant other, as they’re not only the person we spend the most time with, they’re also the one we have less filters with, so it’s an easy outlet to release all the pent up emotions we’ve stored throughout the day, the week or the year onto our partner.
Work Stress Kills Your Physical And Mental Health
When you experience stress, your Central Nervous System (CNS) kicks into gear, starting with the hypothalamus in your brain that triggers your adrenal glands to release two stress hormones: cortisol and adrenaline.
These hormones in turn trigger your body to go into ‘fight or flight’ mode by increasing your heart rate, tightening muscles, sending blood to vital organs and muscles, and shortening your breathing. You’re suddenly ‘ready for anything’.
This state of readiness is a completely normal response to threatening situations (picture: running away from a tiger), and your body is designed to handle such situations.
When the perceived ‘threat’ is no longer present, your body can return to normal, particularly your CNS.
But the problem in our modern world of overwork, overwhelm, deadlines, pressure, self-imposed expectations, and being bombarded by information, images and videos on digital devices, the CNS doesn’t return to normal.
It’s when these states of stress are triggered on a daily basis for several hours a day that it becomes a problem. This is known as chronic stress. And its effects of your mind and body can be extremely debilitating if left untreated.
Chronic stress can trigger a host of physical and mental conditions, disorders and diseases including:
- Heart disease
- Obesity and eating disorders
- Reproductive problems
- Skin conditions
- Musculoskeletal problems
- High blood pressure
- Chronic tiredness
- Sickness / Illnesses
This is why it’s essential to not only manage stress, but more importantly, prevent it in the first place.
Stress Kills Your Brain Cells
The stress hormone cortisol creates a surplus amount of the neurotransmitter glutamate. Although glutamate is an important chemical in the brain, when there’s a surplus it turns against your brain, becoming a dangerous neurotoxin.
Glutamate creates free radicals that attack your brain cells causing them to rupture and ultimately die. Stress kills brain cells and like many other ‘toxins’, it needs to be eliminated to preserve your physical brain health and well as overall mental health.
A study with rats showed that a single stressful situation kills off new nerve cells in the rat’s brain responsible for learning, memory and emotion.
Which is why it’s so hard to concentrate when you’re stressed, as well as being more forgetful and scatter-brained. Let alone reducing your ability to remember things you’ve got coming up in your day and week ahead.
Aside from avoiding stressful situations and environments, there are several things you can do to become more resilient to stress, such as regular exercise.
Work Stress Kills Your Appetite
When you’re stressed your hypothalamus releases corticotropin, a hormone that suppresses appetite.
In addition, you’re adrenal glands release adrenaline as part of your fight-or-flight response, to prepare you for the impending threat.
As part of your body’s fight or flight response, all unessential needs (like an appetite to eat) get put on hold.
If stress is experienced continually however, the opposite happens. The adrenal glands release another stress hormone, cortisol, which can increase appetite.
And in an effort to reduce continued emotional distress, your mind and body will seek distractions.
And one of the most popular ‘feel good’ distractions is food, particularly cravings for high sugar, high fat, high salt foods.
Left unattended, this craving and reward behavior can result in weight gain, which is yet another treadmill of unhealthy living that can lead to more physical and mental health conditions, disorders and diseases.
Work Stress Kills Your Reproduction
As I’ve mentioned above, your body’s fight or flight response triggers a shutdown of non-essential processes within your body such as eating.
Another non-essential process when you’re running for your life from a lion is reproduction. Testosterone production for men and estrogen production for women is no longer a priority.
Why would your body put another life at risk by bringing it into this stressful world of yours?
So reproduction is halted until the threat is gone. But the problem of course in our modern world is that the threat is in your face every day in the form of a boss, co-workers, an inbox, and a smartphone.
Then you head home in the stressful traffic, and you finally get home and you put on a movie full of explosions, shootings, car crashes and intense emotions of loss, love, grief and betrayal … causing you even more stress.
Add to that several meals a day of food that has been treated with chemical pesticides, herbicides and growth hormones, and your mind and body are completely out of balance which is why reproduction is either impossible or extremely difficult.
Work Stress Kills Your Dreams And Goals
When you’re stressed, you’re focused entirely in the now. Subconsciously, your mind and body are asking the question, ‘how can I survive?’
In this state, what space do you have to think positively about your future, and about achieving the many goals you set several months or several years ago?
In a constant state of stress and anxiety, your body is on high-alert in order to deal with the immediate treat(s) in your environment, which is one potential reason why stress can cause depression.
Because when you lose hope of achieving your dreams and goals, of positive things happening in your life, what’s left?
Work Stress Kills Your Friendships
When you’re highly stressed, are you acting logically or emotionally? And when you’re acting emotionally, isn’t it easier to say or do something you regret?
In states of high stress, our expectations of others can reach unrealistic levels. We’re seeking (or expecting) compassion, comfort and a kind word to tell us everything is going to be ok.
But when a friend says or does something, it’s easier for us to over-react, to be over-sensitive to the comment or behaviour.
Remember, stress needs an outlet.
It needs to be released from the body in order for the body to return to a state of homeostasis.
There’s positive outlets like counselling or physical exercise, and there’s negative outlets like outbursts towards other people (think road rage).
These outbursts give us temporary relief from the inner pain we’re experiencing due to stress, but unfortunately, these outbursts aren’t conducive to maintaining healthy relationships.
Work Stress Kills Your Productivity
Stress is everywhere in today’s rush-rush work culture. Work productivity and performance are at the heart of today’s workplace, and while both are important, they shouldn’t come at the expense of our mental well-being and physical health.
When you’re stressed, you can actually be more productive in the short term.
When you’re stressed constantly though, you’re no longer productive.
Having your fight or flight response turned on at 9am Monday to Friday is hazardous to you and hazardous to your employer.
Some employers know this and are implementing workplace stress prevention strategies, inviting workplace stress trainers to conduct in-house corporate stress management workshops, and setting up Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs).
Stress and workplace safety is and should be a big concern for businesses of all sizes, with employee mental health being at the forefront of boardroom discussions globally.
Because when your employees are in harmful environment that creates constant states of panic, “I’ve got to get this done yesterday”, and being busy, busy all day every day… is just likely to lead to overwhelm, procrastination and mental health issues.
In severe states of overwhelm, the brain can even freeze due to intense fear (a ’deer in the headlights’ situation).
Work Stress Kills Your Business (And Your Entrepreneurialism)
Doing the daily ‘grind’ in your business is almost a badge of honor in today’s entrepreneurial-centric world.
With the popularity of side-hustles, remote working, and the convenience of the internet to start a business in an instant, it’s no wonder everyone’s feeling the entrepreneurial itch.
But how can you juggle a job and a new business? And if you’re already full-time in your business, how can you get everything done without work stress killing your business before it even takes off?
I’ve already talked about stress causing financial hardship but just how many would-be businesses are being shut down because the owner becomes overcome by stress?
Stress and oxidative stress severely debilitate your mind and body from being able to function at a normal level, let alone having enough energy to build a company.
Putting your health before or at an equal level of importance as your business is really the only way to enable you to grow and maintain a successful business.
I’ve heard and read countless stories over the years of business owners who have made it big in business but then died prematurely. Steve Jobs comes to mind and there’s no doubt millions of other stories that we never hear about.
Here’s the thing… without money you can still exist. Without a relationship, you can still exist. Without friends, you can still exist. Without a car or a house you can still exist (albeit at an unpleasant level, but nonetheless, you can still exist).
But without health, you’re gone. It’s game over.
Put your health as the foundation of your business plan, create a no-stress lifestyle and reap all the rewards that a successful business can offer you.
These are several ways work stress kills you, which is why it’s important to take the signs and symptoms of stress seriously by seeking and implementing effective stress reduction techniques and strategies.
Stress Thoughts Management:
Have You Thought Or Said One Of The Following…?
“Stress is killing me literally”
When you’re constantly frantic, this thought is common and in extreme cases you can literally feel like you’re going to die from stress. (This was my exact experience shortly after my severe panic attack at age 27)
The way you talk to yourself and others about your stress is important. Thinking and saying things like “I stress about stress” or “I have so much stress” can even create stress.
The good news is you can take immediate control over these thoughts and feelings using your breath.
Simply stop what you’re doing, take one initial big long inhale and slow exhale. This will have an immediate effect on your feelings. Repeat these deep breathes for several minutes in order to break the pattern (the feelings) of stress and anxiety.
Knowing how to kill stress quickly is as important as your job itself sometimes, because ultimately, if you can’t overcome stress, you may be forced to quit your job.
“Stress kills my appetite”
As I outlined above, stress in the short term will kill your appetite. But over the long term it will actually increase your appetite, especially cravings for high fat, high sugar or high salt foods as your brain is seeking the most immediate way out of the stress feelings.
If you reach the point where you’re thinking thoughts like “I think stress is killing me” or “my stress and anxiety is killing me”, a loss of appetite is the least of your problems.
It’s essential to take control of stress early so that you don’t have two problems on your hands: stress and weight gain.
“My job is killing me but I can’t quit”
Stress and types of stress are influenced strongly by your thoughts, spoken words, and career and life decisions.
These types of self-imposed limitations such as ‘I can’t quit’ are a normal response to stress. We all want to have our cake and eat it too.
But if you feel like your body is shutting down from stress, you must take control immediately.
The good news is you don’t have to quit your job to eliminate stress; you just need effective stress reduction techniques that can take you out of stress feelings to feelings of calm.
You can also apply one or more stress prevention techniques such as meditation in order to prevent those unpleasant feelings of stress from even arising.
“Work stress is killing me”
Whether work stress is literally killing you or you just feel like it’s killing you, the unpleasant feelings, sensations and thoughts are often the same.
Can too much stress kill you? While stress itself can’t literally kill you, it can trigger death in the form of a heart attack or a disease.
Take control immediately through effective stress elimination techniques, and the fastest way to take control is with your breath.
Once you’ve gained control of your current stressful thoughts and feelings, it’s then crucial to implement one or more work stress prevention techniques.
Meditation for example, takes you out of beta brain waves into alpha brain waves, allowing you to create a sense of calm ‘in advance’ of any stressful work situation.
“Stress is making me crazy!”
When you’re constantly overloaded with work, or overworked in terms of hours you’re putting in, a sense of overwhelm is the mind’s immediate response and this feeling is extremely uncomfortable.
It can feeling like you’re going crazy because in actual fact, stress is proven to kill brain cells as well as the connections between neurons, which affects your memory.
If you’re constantly feeling frantic, forgetful, scatter-brained and struggling to remember names and things you’ve got coming up, work stress can certainly be the culprit.
Is stress the number one killer? Many think so, because it can trigger any number of physical diseases, let alone disorders and conditions that won’t kill you, but can make life miserable.
What’s Causing Us So Much Stress Exactly?
Stress and causes of stress are different for everyone. Something that may cause stress for one person is irrelevant to another person.
A report by the National Health Service (UK) on Work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain, reveals disturbing evidence of increases in all three areas, particularly work stress, with Professionals suffering the greatest amount of stress.
Stress is personal because it affects everyone differently, and its symptoms will manifest differently for every person too.
How can stress kill you? Well, it starts with a trigger, manifests as a symptom, and depending on whether or not you treat the underlying stress, the symptoms or their severity can grow and could even lead to disease in the long term.
Here are common causes of stress:
- Job insecurity
- Economic instability
- Social media
- Personal expectations
- Family expectations
- Unrealistic job expectations- Sedentary lifestyle (sitting too long)
- Over-exposure to electronic devices
- Pressure and deadlines
- Inability to disconnect from work
- Financial obligations
- Substance abuse
- Demanding job
- Office politics
- Long hours at work
- Job loathing
- Excessive workload
- Job dissatisfaction
- Denial (“stress what stress?” – this was me!)
- Lack of job autonomy and control of decision making
Work Stress Techniques:
Kill Stress Before It Kills You
With all this talk of stress, diseases, suffering, loss and death… it’s time to turn our attention to solutions in the form of practical anti-stress techniques so that you can leave stress in your rear view mirror.
I’m going to share 5 stress killers with you right now; these are techniques and strategies that that you can implement either immediately or within the next 24 hours to start turning the stress ship around.
Rather than taking medicine, alcohol, cigarettes, CBD or other substances to numb the feelings and sensations of stress, put these techniques and strategies to work and take control of your mind and body. These are just some of the things I implemented to beat stress naturally.
Let’s get into it…
Technique: Deep Breathing
By far the quickest and easiest way to get out of stress RIGHT NOW is to change your breathing.
The fight or flight response induces shorter breathes that allow you to move quickly and sharply if needed.
The unfortunate part is, this behaviour is often unconscious. You don’t even realize how shallow your breathing is until someone points it out.
So the breathing technique is to start by taking long, deep inhales and slow exhales. This will immediately begin to calm your nervous system.
After ten or so breathes like this, it’s time to extend it a bit further by pausing after the inhale, and holding for several seconds, before slowing exhaling.
Give yourself a target time-count, such as to hold your breath for say 10 seconds (by the way, not only will this holding of the breath help reduce stress, it will also increase your lung capacity in general, helping you get up those flights of stairs easier!).
Even Navy Seals are trained to breathe like this when they’re in life or death situations. And unlike us office workers, they’ve really got a legitimate threat they need to respond to.
Technique: 22×11 Technique
The 22×11 technique is one of my all-time favorite stress busters.
Here’s how it works:
1. Put your current (negative) thought, feeling or belief into a concise statement. It could something like: ‘work sucks’, ‘work is killing me’, or ‘I hate my job’.
2. Come up with a direct opposite (positive) statement to the negative statement above. It could be something like: ‘work is fun and easy’, ‘work is healthy for me’, ‘I’m calm and healthy at work’
3. Take this statement and write it out 22 times BUT… immediately after writing the statement out once, write the immediate thought that comes up as soon as you write the statement and say it out loud.
[Positive statement] ‘Work is fun and easy’
[Immediate response] “I hate it”
4. Write out your statement and response 22 times (it should take between 5-10 minutes).
5. Repeat this for 11 days straight
The power in this technique is that while you’re installing the new (positive) statement into your mind, you’re simultaneously uninstalling the negative thought/belief.
Don’t be worried or scared about some of the responses that your mind will respond with after you write and say out loud the positive statement. (I’ve had responses along the lines of ‘you’re going to die’! And I obviously didn’t die so don’t buy into the negative ‘junk’ that comes up. THIS is the trash that we’re wanting to uninstall from your mind!)
Technique: 60 Second Stress Shifters
I’m all about taking control of work stress, which is why I now have a tool belt of over 50 work stress techniques and strategies to prevent, manage and heal from stress.
I love the ones that can be done in 60 seconds because of the fact that they’re only 60 seconds; you’re all out of excuses to not do them!
So here’s what I do on a daily basis while I’m working, not only to shift any stress feelings I’m experiencing, but also to interrupt the sedentary nature of working at a desk all day.
Simply stand up and do either:
– 60 seconds of jumping jacks
– 60 seconds of air boxing
– 60 seconds of high knees
Short and sweet.
Repeat this several times a day, perhaps every hour on the hour.
These will both shift the feelings of stress running around your system while releasing endorphins in your mind and body, which reduce pain and boost pleasure.
Don’t overlook this and other simple techniques because of the short amount of time they take to execute.
Shifting feelings of stress can happen fast, and there are many techniques and strategies you can implement depending on how much time you have available and the environment you’re in at any point in time.
Technique: Body Wakers
Your emotions don’t just sit in your mind; they sit within every cell in your body, which is why when you’re stressed you’re also tense. You’re entire being is in flight or fight mode, ready to fight or flee.
Therefore one way to release stress and tension is to ‘work your body’ in a physical sense.
The most obvious way is through physical exercise but there’s an even more immediate and less strenuous way to shift from feelings of stress and tension to relaxation and release.
A Chinese healing technique called Paida Lajin is a healing modality that is designed to release blockages in the body through repeatedly slapping the body (usually hard slapping). This is the Paida part of the modality.
The other part is Lajin, which is stretching of the legs to release blockages in the body. A specially designed bench is available for Lajin practitioners that has you lying on your back with one leg up in the air at a 45 degree angle, specifically to stretch behind the knee. According to Lajin facilitators, the degree to which you can or can’t stretch the back of your legs (think: touching your toes) indicates the level of blockage(s) in your body.
I’ve adjusted the Paida technique slightly to make it a little more ‘realistic’ in terms of delivering the slapping, because open palm slapping is painful and will therefore turn a great majority of people off using the technique.
So I prefer to use a closed fist and ‘hit’ the muscles of the body using the underside of the close fist (the finger nail side, not the knuckle side). This makes it easier and far less painful, yet delivers probably 80%+ of the effectiveness compared to the open palm slapping.
As an example… I was at the gym a few years ago and for about two weeks, when I did leg exercises such as squats, lunges or leg extensions, I would get an strong pain just above my right knee to the point where I couldn’t actually complete the leg exercise.
Knowing the effectiveness of Paida, I simply took 60 seconds out and hit the area where I was experiencing the pain with the underside of my closed fist. The pain disappeared and never came back. Hitting the area intensely for a short amount of time released the blockage in the area, therefore releasing the pain.
In times when I’m experiencing high stress, I stand up and do a 2 minute Paida session, hitting my muscles from calves to shoulders with the underside of my closed fist.
The feeling after this is incredible, it’s such a great release. I immediately feel like taking a deep breath, which further symbolizes the release of stress and tension that I’ve just experienced.
I discovered Paida and Lajin by attending an evening workshop in around 2013 in Australia and ended up attending a one week workshop in Los Angeles in 2014.
Try it… it works!
Strategy: Physical Exercise
I attribute a lack of physical exercise as one of the major reasons I suffered my Stage 1 stress. I was working intensely in real estate, running on adrenaline.
Adrenaline and cortisol build up wasn’t being released, and it regrettably wasn’t being replaced by endorphins from exercise.
Knowing this, one of the first things I started doing after my severe panic attack at age 27 was physical exercise to beat stress. I started jogging consistently as a form of exercise for the first time in my life. Up to that point my exercise had come mostly through playing various sports.
I started jogging with just 1 lap of a soccer field and within a relatively short period of time I worked my way up to running 6km (3.7mi) five times per week.
All these years later I swear by a simple exercise routine that includes the three most important forms of exercise:
1) Weight Lifting – to build and/or maintain muscle and to increase bone density (both of which are important as we age)
2) Cardio – walking is the ultimate cardio (brisk walking that is) because of its low impact on your body and joints and the fact it can be done at any age. I do a 45 minute walk 5 days a week.
3) Flexibility – this is crucial as we age, and I’m not just talking about stretching, I’m talking about a deliberate session dedicated to lengthening muscles as well as opening the meridians in the body. And the practise to achieve both is through Yoga.
My mindset with exercise is this: If you’re not doing 30 minutes a day of exercise (5-6 days per week), you’re not even in the game. As in, you’re not putting your health at a high enough priority.
There’s so many physical exercise programs these days along the lines of ‘5 minutes to this’, ‘7 minutes to that’, but when it comes to exercise, if you’re looking for ways to do the absolute bare minimum and yet expect to be in great health, you have the wrong approach, the wrong ‘attitude’ in fact.
Putting exercise at the forefront of your daily lifestyle reaps immeasurable rewards physically, mentally and emotionally, which in turn a positive effect in literally every area of your life. To be strong, get strong.
What Are Some Other Ways To Reduce Stress At Work?
Job Redesign – the flavor of the month is redesigning your job to remote work or more flexible working hours, and thanks to the Covid pandemic, employers were forced to open up to such work arrangements.
Start with re-thinking your job, the high priority and high outcome tasks and the low priority and low income tasks. Re-consider your strengths and weaknesses in your role and think about how you can focus on your strengths and sell these strengths to your employer.
Think about whether you’re more productive in the morning vs the afternoon and the days that you’re more productive.
Redesigning your job can often be the fastest way to eliminate stress because you’re dealing with the cause.
Reduced Working Hours – an obvious but often dismissed way of reducing stress is to reduce your work hours. This may take time to negotiate with your employer in order to convince them that it’s a good idea or to trust you to get all your work done in a shorter time period.
Can you batch your learning tasks? Can you batch your emails and client calls?
Think about the efficiencies you build into your job and how you can cut the fat that could be keeping you at work longer or doing tasks that don’t add real value to your employer.
Good Stress Vs Bad Stress
Stress and death are inextricably linked, so it’s up to you as an individual to break this link by breaking through stress.
We’ve all had experiences where we go through a stressful situation and come out of it actually feeling good, or better than before the situation occurred.
Then there’s other stressful situations that lower our energy, drain our motivation and make us want to withdraw from the situation and even from our current lifestyle.
Learning how to cope with stress is as important as learning how to do the job itself, because if you can’t cope, you can’t work.
Mental stress and physical stress is real, but an often overlooked aspect is that of how the mind perceives stress and the corresponding physical effect.
Stress can have both positive effects and negative effects.
But what makes it even more challenging is that physical stress vs mental stress may become evident to you at different times. For me, physical symptoms of stress appeared months before I felt the effects of stress mentally/emotionally.
Psychological stress (mental/emotional) is ‘negotiable’ you might say, providing you notice the warning signs early.
Let’s discover why…
Eustress (Good Stress)
Eustress is a termed coined by Hungarian-Canadian Endocrinologist, Hans Selye.
Eustress specially relates to a person’s perception and response to stressors, as opposed to a specific type of stress.
Eustress and distress are often compared as they’re at opposite ends of the same scale. Eustress is positive stress while distress is negative stress. Being distressed is a term more used to describe general discomfort in the short term as opposed to describing long term stress, which is known as chronic stress.
An example of Eustress in action could refer to a person’s response to an exam. While one person might be mentally and emotionally ‘defeated’ by the pressure of performing on a topic and within a specific timeframe, which may result in negative feelings such as anxiety, self-criticism and even depression, another person may feel energized by the prospect of performing under pressure, and may come out of the experience feeling more confident about themselves and their career prospects.
Perception is everything.
Which is why when it comes to stress, how you think and what you say out loud can have a HUGE contributing effect to the amount of stress you experience.
Self-talk is a huge factor in preventing and managing stress, as well as life as a whole.
Positive self-talk was one of the most important strategies that allowed me to beat stress naturally.
Can stress actually kill you, is a question in itself that can cause stress, particularly if it’s repeated often, which is why it’s important to choose your thoughts and words carefully.
Acute Stress vs Chronic Stress
Acute stress is an intense but short-lived stress whereas chronic stress is mild or major stress experienced over a long time period which can have damaging effects on your health.
Acute stress is a normal reaction to a significant event such as the death of a loved one, a car accident, or even being fired from a job unexpectedly. A significant physical or emotional event can have an immediate, but usually short lived effect on your mind and body.
Chronic stress on the other hand is the real ‘killer’ when it comes to experiencing stress. This form of stress is what most people refer to, especially when speaking about work related stress.
Chronic stress is a never ending stress that can interrupt your mind and body’s natural processes, everything from libido to sleep to reproduction.
Depending on the intensity and duration of stress experienced, symptoms will manifest accordingly.
If your sleep patterns start to change for example, this might be your first warning sign of stress, and if left untreated, a second and more severe symptom may manifest such as lowered libido, and if the stress is left untreated, at the further end of the scale, a major disease could be triggered due to years of imbalance in the mind and body.
While your body is designed to overcome short term stress, it’s not designed to handle long term stress.
Here are five symptoms of chronic stress:
- You have trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep, or getting enough sleep
- Heart palpitations
- Unusual levels of frustration, anger or rage
- Physical symptoms such as lowered libido, pimples, lack of appetite, gut problems, skin problems
- Daily reliance on substances such as alcohol, illicit drugs, cigarettes/vaping, pharmaceutical drugs
Left untreated, chronic stress signs and symptoms will become more severe, harder to eliminate and its effects can also be long lasting, potentially leading to a constant reliance on pharmaceutical drugs just to help you feel as though you have a sense of normal in your life.
Good stress and bad stress therefore doesn’t solely relate to the type of stress experienced, but also the way you perceive the stress, which is what makes stress difficult to identify or label as the source of a mental or physical issue.
Can you die from work stress?
Technically no. Stress itself can’t kill you, but it is linked to many causes of death from diseases, conditions and disorders (physical and mental).
Stress is an all-encompassing issue that can be difficult to identify as the initial cause or trigger of death, which is why it’s important to eliminate stress from your life through the use of effective stress management techniques along with a healthy lifestyle.
I stress about stress before it happens: What can I do?
Stressing about stress becomes a vicious cycle of worry, anxiety and even depression if it remains untreated. So it’s essential to find and implement effective techniques and strategies to combat work stress.
Educate yourself about health and well-being and implement changes in your life to the point where stress isn’t even a factor because of your healthy lifestyle.
What does extreme stress do to the body?
Stress has been linked to any number of diseases, physical and mental. Extreme stress, also known as chronic stress can have severely debilitating effects on your physical and mental health.
Stress puts your body in a state of fight or flight, so if this state is maintained over the long term your body’s processes are thrown out of balance which can cause untold disasters in the form of health conditions, disorders and diseases.
At the mild end, stress can manifest as skin conditions and at the extreme end has been linked to diseases such as heart disease and even cancer.
How do you know if stress is killing you?
You know if stress is killing you if you’re constantly stressed at work, anxious about work itself or your workload, getting the flu constantly, having abnormal mood changes, all the way through to experiencing physical symptoms such as constant headaches, muscle pain, heart palpitations, skin issues, trouble sleeping, lowered libido and many more.
It’s important to see your doctor to have a blood test in addition to implementing proven natural stress reduction techniques and strategies to manage or eliminate stress from your life as soon as possible.
How long before stress kills you?
There’s no set timeframe before stress can lead to a health condition that can cause death. Stress is known as the silent killer for a reason. Because it’s more like the trigger of the gun than the bullet itself.
Can stress permanently damage your body?
Yes, chronic stress can permanently damage your body. The physical manifestation of stress is different for every person, but it can show up as skin conditions, mental disorders and physical diseases that lead to death.
How many people die from stress?
Technically no one dies from stress, but rather, they die from conditions, disorders and diseases that could have been triggered by chronic stress.
Why is stress deadly?
Stress is deadly because it has been linked as the cause of numerous health conditions and diseases that lead to death.
Stress throws your body’s natural processes out of balance, which can lead to one or more health issues, disorders and diseases (both physical and mental).
Can long term stress kill you?
Yes in the sense that long term stress could trigger a physical disease that can lead to death. Which is why stress is known as the silent killer.
How dangerous is work stress?
Work stress is extremely dangerous if it’s left unnoticed and unchecked. Pay attention to your body’s signs and symptoms and reassess the way you work and your self-talk in relation to work.
How much stress is too much stress?
It depends on the person. Stress affects each person differently with some people being very resilient and others being more susceptible or predisposed to stress.
The extent to which stress affects you can be influenced by your genetic makeup, body constitution, personal values, beliefs, childhood traumas, subconscious patterns and how you process your thoughts and feelings.
This is why it’s hard to identify who, when, how and why someone may be susceptible to stress.
Does stress shorten your life?
Yes stress can shorten your life because its effects on the mind and body can lead to numerous mental or physical health conditions that can lead to premature death.
Lifestyle diseases is the name given to diseases created by an unhealthy lifestyle, of which stress can play a major part.
Death caused by stress is avoidable, which is why it’s crucial to take control early before symptoms start to pile one on top of the other.
What do you do if your job is too stressful?
Your two main options are to improve the way you work (be more organized, apply time management techniques) and become more resilient to work stress by exercising or meditating daily.
What is toxic stress?
Toxic stress could be described as either oxidative stress or chronic stress. Both are dangerous to your mental and physical health which is why it’s important to notice the signs and symptoms and make work and life changes immediately.
What is the impact of too much stress on workers?
For employers, keeping your employees’ stress to a minimum is crucial for the health of your employee and your organization. Educate your employees including management and implement systems to create a positive work environment.
Can you die from stress and depression?
Stress can cause depression which in some cases leads to suicide. Stress and depression are both mental health conditions that need treatment as soon as possible.
Daily exercise and meditation are natural methods that can create resilience to help prevent and/or manage almost any mental disorder.
Why am I so stressed?
Because you’re over-stimulated.
It’s not just about being busy at work, it’s how the majority of the world live. It’s a lifestyle problem, not just a work problem.
If you compare the life of someone living in the year 1900 to someone living in say 2015 their lives are vastly different. In the 1900’s people were getting an average of 9 hours sleep per night. In 2015, people are getting an average of 6 hours sleep per night.
Our brain and body can’t adapt to such a drastic change in sleep within such a short time period. And chronic sleep loss is linked to mental and physical illness (after all, sleep deprivation was used as a torture technique during wartime)
With the introduction of smartphones in around 2010, we not only don’t disconnect from work in many cases, we don’t disconnect from strong (negative) emotions experienced as a result of social media and TV:
– Jealousy/Envy (keeping up with the Jones’s)
– Inadequacy/Self Esteem
– Anger and frustration of your life compared to what you’re witnessing on social media
Seeing is believing. And when you witness millions of everyday people around the world seemingly living better than you are, this can have a deep effect on your mental well-being, which can in turn affect your physical well-being.
Add to this the fact that most people will sit in front of a TV for several hours a night watching TV shows and movies that include explosions, murder, car crashes, stabbing, betrayal, lust, lies, anger, failure, and just about every other negative thing you can think of, it’s no wonder we not only can’t sleep, but are stressed out of our minds.
Are there positive things on social media and on TV? Absolutely. But it’s in the minority. Because drama sells.
The mind easily gets attached to the negative, which is why it’s important to protect your mind, and focus it on the positive at all times by avoiding negative people, situations, events, TV shows and movies.
Look after yourself.
No one else will take as much of an interest in your health as you will (or should!).
In this article I’ve outlined the many ways in which stress kills you, literally and figuratively. As mentioned, stress itself can’t literally kill you but it can be responsible for triggering any number of mental and physical conditions, disorders and diseases.
Take control early.
Don’t be like me and ignore the physical symptoms of stress, and don’t try to override things with your mind by saying, “I’m fine”, “Nothing’s wrong”, “I’ll be ok”.
Implement effective stress reduction techniques and strategies into your day to not only manage stress, but prevent it.
Don’t let stress turn into a significant health condition before you start taking control of your health.
Look after yourself… starting today!