Reducing stress in the workplace

Reducing stress in the workplace

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Contributors:

Dr. Andrew Kleinknecht, St. Margaret's Bay Chiropractic Centre

Everyone is faced with stress on a daily basis.

We all have families, deadlines, pitches, bills and employees to keep happy, or employers who can produce an overwhelming amount of stress. As a Doctor of Chiropractic, a family man and owner of a small business, I see these issues all too often. I may see some of you, or your co-workers as patients due to stress-related illness.

Depending on what research you read, visits to all types of doctors can be related to stress 80 per cent of the time. Workplace costs of stress-related absenteeism and lost productivity are estimated to be in the billions in our country each year.

First, let’s debunk the notion that all stress is bad — it’s not. In fact, some stress can be helpful in meeting deadlines, focusing and refining teamwork. We all want to be able to better cope with stress. Put another way, you want a big, empty bucket to handle stress, versus a small, full bucket. You need to be able to empty your bucket faster. I feel that this metaphor is really the key to the stress game.

There are two parts to your body’s nervous system. Part one is the sympathetic part, otherwise known as the fight/flight mechanism, where too many of us live on a daily basis. Part two is the parasympathetic part, which is the state where healing, rest and relaxation come from. Increasing the size and ability to quickly empty your metaphorical bucket comes down to doing things that shift you out of fight/flight mode, to a state of rest, partway between sympathetic and parasympathetic dominance. Chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol can lead to anxiety, sleeplessness, chronic pain, weight gain, high blood pressure, headaches, gastric upset, bowel issues, etc. This is the wheelhouse of my practice as a chiropractor.

This is where you come in. You can do what I used to do to feel good, like overeating or self-medicating. But there are much healthier things you can be doing that we discuss daily in our office. Things like morning meditation and physical exercise — go for a walk at lunch and unplug. Proactive workplaces support taking care of yourself. Smart employers know it boosts your productivity in the workplace.

Take action and get active. Eat foods high in good fats and low in sugar laden refined carbohydrates. Bread, pasta and cereal should not be staples in your diet. Good fats like olive oil, avocados and omega-3’s (fish oil) are all excellent for brain function.

Head to a chiropractor that can run the heart rate variability test to figure out what part of your nervous system is stressed. It is simple and can be done in the office. Chiropractic treatments are useful as part of stress proofing your body.

Don’t be victimized by stress — learn to dance with it. Stress is part of life.

If you have any further questions about this topic, please contact me for more information about our free lunch and learn programs.

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