Around 75% of Australians revealed that stress in their lives adversely affected their health (1). Stress is commonly defined as a person’s reactive mechanism to a challenging or dangerous situation (2). It allows the human mind to decide whether to “fight or take flight.” Although usually associated with negative emotions, experiencing stress once in a while isn’t always a bad thing.
However, extended or chronic exposure to a stressor leading to prolonged stress can have detrimental effects physically and mentally. For example, in an instance of fear or trauma, a person’s heart rate can increase to stimulate the body to take action. But prolonged exposure to this kind of stressor can prevent the body or mind from returning to normal activity, which can then lead to further health complications (3).
Discussing how stress can affect a person or cause illness is a little tricky. Stress all comes down to the individual's perception of what they perceive as stressful. What is stress to one person is a breezy situation to another, and it all depends on that person’s ability to adapt to the stressor (2).
A common source of stress comes from the workplace. With the advancement of digital technology, everyday tasks have become more complex. While this can greatly enhance work, it also generates a larger scope or expectation from professionals. Of course, financial stress may also arise from work.
The research on stress
Research shows that young Australian adults belonging to generation Y are more stressed than the previous generation (generation X) and the baby boomers (people born during the post-World War II baby boom, between 1946 and 1964). They are also more likely to report mental health concerns than older Australians. Personal finances, family and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle are likely to be the top 3 reasons why people from gen Y say they are stressed (2).
The pandemic has also added to the stress people might experience over working (1)0. You may feel fear and anxiety over being exposed to the virus while in the workplace. You may also feel concern over the uncertainty that the pandemic and lockdowns bring. Having to learn new technologies in order to keep working may also be stressful, as well as adapting to working from home, or seeing changes in your workload or work schedule.
Recognising workplace stress
Work stress can manifest through the following physical symptoms (2):
- Muscular tension
- Sleeping difficulties
- Gastrointestinal upsets, such as diarrhea or constipation
- Dermatological disorders
Work stress can also manifest in the following psychological symptoms:
- Neurological conditions
- Feelings of being overwhelmed and inability to cope
People may experience these symptoms in common workplace events or situations. For example, extended work hours or heavy work loads could cause fatigue and/or lack of sleep. Over-supervision or harassment could also trigger psychological symptoms in a worker.
Work stress, if not controlled, can lead to employer costs as well. Studies have identified these potential costly occurrences due to reported work-related stress (2):
- Employee turnover
- Healthcare expenditure
- Insurance claims for stress-related industrial accidents (costs nearly twice as much as non-stress related industrial accidents).
Due to the potential costs of work stress, it’s important to know how to address it. Here are some tips on how to deal with stress at work.
Identify stress triggers and tackle them appropriately
While we may not be able to control all the situations we face in our workplace, there are some lifestyle changes we can make to fight against uncontrollable stressors.
Start by identifying stressors that lead to any of the physical or psychological symptoms of work stress. Note down these places, instances or people that are present when you manifest any of the symptoms.
Once identified, target them appropriately. For example, if you face a heavy workload and become frustrated with the lack of time to finish it, try creating a time management plan.
- Set realistic goals and expectations - continuously evaluate progress on tasks and adjust timelines accordingly.
- Make a priority list - rank your tasks and start your day with tasks that are on top of the list, then work your way down.
- Protect your time - especially when dealing with high-priority tasks, keep your focus on the task. Block your schedule and work in a place where you can give it full priority (2).
Rest and relaxation
Relaxation is a crucial tool in fighting work stress. There are several online resources you can find on deep breathing techniques, meditation, or other relaxation techniques. Of course, regular exercise and a balanced diet have also been well-documented to aid in stress relief.
Stress management includes regular physical activity and extra-curricular activities or healthy hobbies, like listening to music or outdoor activities. Avoid unhealthy habits that can lead to more complications later on, such as too much caffeine, alcoholism or smoking.
Getting sufficient nutrients is important to help the body cope with stress. However, if you don’t get enough nutrients from your diet, you may consider supplementation. Here are some options:
Ginkgo and Brahmi
Ginkgo, the brain herb, is a powerful adaptogen that has the ability to improve brain function, concentration and memory along with supporting the body’s stress response. Brahmi, a traditional Ayurvedic (Indian) nerve tonic, exerts nootropic activity to enhance cognition.
The high dosage combination of 3,000mg for both herbs makes it a powerful formula to enhance the quality of memory and brain function in everyday life. Vitable’s herbal combination supplement of Ginkgo and Brahmi helps relieve symptoms of stress.
Magnesium supplements are essential for proper muscle function and overall brain health, which are necessary to support the body as it undergoes stressful situations.
Also consider supplementing the body with calcium. Calcium plays a vital role in muscle contraction, most especially in the regulation of heart muscle contractions (2).
Good muscle health allows for the body to function optimally. Muscle health is crucial for healthy heart contractions, energy production, immune function and more. Vitable’s Calcium Plus supplements can help maintain good muscle health.
Ashwagandha from Vitable can also relieve symptoms of stress. Vitable’s Ashwagandha formula contains ashwagandha as well as Ziziphus and Schizandra, which are adaptogenic herbs helping the body adapt to stress. Traditionally, they have been used in Ayurvedic (Indian) and Chinese medicine as a natural remedy for sleep troubles, stress and overall vitality.
Complement healthy lifestyle practices and exercise with the energy production nutrient, vitamin B complex. Vitamin B complex helps support healthy stress response in the body. This supplement also supports the immune system and nourishes the nervous system to allow for an active lifestyle.
You may also ramp up your daily nutrient absorption of B12 with Vitable’s Vitamin B12 supplement. This aids in the metabolism of fats and amino acids. It also plays a role in releasing energy from food, giving you the boost you need to deal with stressful situations.
You can manage workplace stress with simple life adjustments. To help you combat stress, you might also want to consider a supplement subscription from Vitable which you can pair alongside a healthy diet. We offer custom vitamins in Australia where you can mix and match your vitamin daily packs and have it delivered straight to your door through our vitamin delivery!
Find out more about other areas that the above supplements can help you with:
*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.
- Way Ahead Mental Health Association NSW. https://wayahead.org.au/stress-and-australians/ Accessed Nov 9, 2021.
- Health Direct. Stress. Health Direct. Published September 2019 on https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/stress. Accessed Nov 7, 2021.
- National Institute of Mental Health. 5 Things You Should Know About Stress. National Institute of Health. Published on https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress. Accessed on Nov 7, 2021.
- Mohd. Razali Salleh. Life Event, Stress and Illness. Malays J Med Sci. Pulished October 15, 2008 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341916/. Accessed on Nov 7, 2021
- Australian Psychological Society. Stress and Wellbeing in Australia Survey. Australian Psychological Society. Published 2014 on http://www.psychology.org.au/. Accessed on Nov 7, 2021.
- Better Heath Channel. Work-related Stress. Published on https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/work-related-stress. Accessed Nov 7, 2021
- UMASS LOWELL. Financial Cost of Job Stress. Published on https://www.uml.edu/Research/CPH-NEW/Worker/stress-at-work/financial-costs.aspx. Accessed Nov 7, 2021.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Coping with stress: Workplace tips. Published on https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/coping-with-stress/art-20048369. Accessed Nov 7, 2021.
- Braun, L., and Cohen,Marc. Herbs & Natural Supplements An Evidence-based guide Volume 2. 4th ed. Published 2015. Accessed on Nov 7, 2021.
- Employees: How to Cope with Job Stress and Build Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic. CDC. Published December 2020 on https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/mental-health-non-healthcare.html. Accessed on Nov 14, 2021.