Stress in the Workplace

Manufacturing Wellness Podcast episode


Welcome to the manufacturing wellness podcast, I am your host, Laura Timbrook. And today we are talking about stress. One of the things I’ve learned over my time in manufacturing and in corporate wellness is how often we promote overwork ethics, you know, so many times I will walk into an organization and a leader, or manager or supervisor will be talking about their team. And usually at some point in this conversation, they will tell me about their best employee. And all the time when they talk about their best employee. They mentioned, they haven’t taken a sick day, they haven’t taken a vacation day in the year, they brag about it like a badge of honor, this person is so dedicated, they haven’t taken a vacation five years, they haven’t called in sick once or one of my most dedicated workers, that’s a problem, guys, that’s a big problem, it’s a problem because that person is probably burning out. Or if they’re not burning out, they’re going to burn out. Or if they’re not going to burn out, they might very well leave because from that person’s aspect, they haven’t taken a vacation, and three years, they’re tired, and we don’t see it that way. And we really need to be promoting vacations. And I’m going to talk about that a little bit on in this episode. But what I want to start doing is giving you some statistics, so you can really kind of understand. So if you go to real simple, they lay out some of the scariest data, I have seen 75% of employees believe that workers have more on the job stress than a generation ago 75%. And the crazy thing is, this was this number was taken before COVID hit, I can guarantee you this is significantly higher today. And 25% of those people view their job as their number one stressor. You know, stress isn’t all bad. Stress can help promote us, it can help give us that drive to complete something. And that’s kind of your acute stress, that stress that’ll get you to run faster, do something better, short bursts. But the problem is this kind of stress that we’re talking about here in these studies is not acute stress. This is chronic stress. This is the stress that breaks us down both physically, mentally, and emotionally. This is a stress that can literally destroy a person’s health. We know that stress plays such a big part in someone’s overall health. Actually, stress is one of the things that affects every area of our body. So many times I hear everybody Tell me when I eat, I get this digestive pain. And sometimes, maybe you’re allergic to something or maybe something just doesn’t agree with you. But more times than not that digestive pain they’re having isn’t necessarily because of the food. It is because of how stressed they are. When your body is in a fight or flight response. your digestive system slows. Our body is saving all its energy and there’s a lot of energy used in the digestive process. It is saving all that energy that we can either defend ourselves or run from something but what if it’s just about eating our sandwich at lunch and we just came out of a tense meeting with our supervisor or maybe something on the production lines not working right now you’re trying to eat lunch and it’s just sitting like a brick. Then you don’t feel good. You go home. You’re crabby, you’re snapping at your family. You go to sleep that night, you can’t sleep and if you’re not sleeping, you’re going to wake up the next Morning if you even got any sleep, and it’s going to start the process all over again. But you’re already starting from a stress state, you still haven’t digested that food, you’re feeling miserable. Your blood pressure is now high. It goes on and on until you can start relieving that stress. And a lot of people, how do they handle that stress, they start medicating themselves, whether it’s alcohol, whether it’s food, whether it’s other substances, maybe sleeping pills, just trying to sleep, or maybe it’s Pepcid. Because you have so much heartburn, because our food isn’t digesting. And so many times it becomes because of stress. So we really need to be taking a look

at our stress. Now not all the time, can we control our stress? Sometimes, if our stress is coming from an area, we really don’t have much control over? Maybe it’s a toxic person at work. Maybe it’s a toxic leadership or management? No, I hope your organization would have their finger on the pulse on that. But oftentimes, it doesn’t. Oftentimes, they don’t even know what’s going on, because nothing has been communicated. But maybe nothing has been communicated. Because it’s not the type of environment that is open for communication. There’s so many reasons why your employees aren’t talking about why they’re stressed at work. So if you find yourself in a leadership or management position, it’s really important to start understanding where your employees where your team is at on the stress, find out is there any way you can help reduce their stress, because that’s only going to further help their health down the line. Stress does affect everybody, and everybody is affected differently with it. One thing that stresses a person out, doesn’t stress another person. Now, there was actually a study that found that for some police officers, doing paperwork at their desk was more stressful than chasing a criminal. So stress for everybody is different. For me, if I was chasing a bad guy, I would be a lot more stressed out than filling out paperwork. But that’s what they’re trained for. They’re trained to be able to handle those responses. So everybody handles stress differently. And if a team member is coming to you and say x is stressing me out, and you’re like, but it’s not stressing anybody else out doesn’t matter. Because it’s stressing one person out How can you work with them? Or how can we create something that they can work through for it, you know, it’s about that communication, long term stress, we know causes problems. We know it can cause high blood pressure. We know it causes sleep disorders, we have issues with stress and cardiovascular and digestive issues. our immune system is naturally lower when you’re stressed out. And this isn’t just for humans. This actually goes for animals as well. You know, it’s really interesting. I have been studying Robert sapolsky. He is a Stanford professor, and he wrote a book called why zebras don’t get ulcers. And it’s really talking about fight and flight and all this biology and it’s really interesting, but where the story I’m going with this is my dog always stressed out, and we send him every now and then to the state care for him to kind of realize dogs are bad and he’s, he’s good in the daycare. He just kind of leaves everybody alone. Well, we had to leave him there for a couple days, one time a week, come back and within 10 days, he’s got kennel cough now he’s been vaccinated for kennel cough. We took him to the ER because of course, when he shows the symptoms, we’re away camping on vacation in another state. The vet told me, we’re talking about it. And I said, Yeah, he gets pretty stressed out when he goes to this kennel. And he says, well, it’s not surprising that even though he’s vaccinated, he actually got the kennel cough, because how much it lowers the immune system. Now, I knew from the human perspective, that stress lowered our immune system, I see it all the time people get stressed at work, suddenly they’re sick. And how many times do managers say off someone just needed a time off? No, they literally got sick, because their immune system dropped because of your stress. But it happens with animals too. It was it’s so amazing to me the connection between the humans and animals and how biology is so connected with that. But we do have to keep an eye on our stress. Because not only will it cause the physical health issues, it will also cause the mental health issues, depression and anxiety we’re seeing now depression and anxiety has been the highest probably it’s ever been in a really long time. And kind of at this point in talking to a lot of my mental health professional friends, is it’s across the board. It’s everybody. It’s kids, it’s adults, it’s seniors. It is affecting everybody, and it’s dressed. And if we don’t handle this stress now, it is going to affect our health negatively down the line. So it’s so important to start having a handle on our stress. Now, what are some things we can do to help manage our stress or team stress? One, we have to keep an eye open, keep an ear to the ground, just be mindful of what is going on open those communication pathways. We also need to be bringing mental health professionals in like we do for wellness, we have wellness professionals come into our organizations, well, maybe not right now. But we bring in their expertise. Maybe it’s virtually

to talk to us about sugar and eating healthy and exercising. But we need to do the same for mental health. We need our employees to understand how important their mental health is, and what it looks like when we need help. Because not all the time Do people understand when we need help getting in regular exercise. Regular exercise is such a drastic effect on our overall mental health stress. But there is boundaries. There is exercise that relieves stress. And there’s exercise that causes stress. If you’re already stressed out, going to a boot camp style class, unless you have been a lifelong athlete is probably going to be more stress. But going for a 15 minute walk outside is perfect to help relieve some of that stress. So important to to stay connected with our friends. And again this time it’s been really difficult to do that. However, now that things are opening back up, people are getting their vaccinations. We need to get back and build our friendships that community being connected with other people. We need these outlets we need to be getting on vacations. We need to be taking our time off

We need to be setting boundaries with work and goals and prioritizing what means the most to us because a lot of this, it’s getting all jumbled up. We’re so confused. We’ve been working so hard or trying to work or trying to find a job that we’ve been under the stress state for over a year, we need to relax. We need to let it go. Take your vacations, make sure your employees are taking their time off taking their vacation. If it’s that they can’t afford a fancy vacation that don’t take a fancy vacation, because financial stresses is going to cause another issue. But take some time off go fishing, go biking, go hiking, go camping, do something but get away. Take yourself away. We have been on undated with news. We have been unindicted with financial burdens and what products are going to be available what’s happening or who’s sick or who’s dying. It’s been so much we need to take a break. We need to Step back. We need to make sure that we are taking care of ourselves and we are supporting our team members. So what is something you can do? Well, like I said, keep your eye out. Keep listening. You Keep that communication pathway open. One of the biggest things that we leave stress is having fun. somehow figure out how you could bring fun into workplaces. Can you do challenges? Can you have some game days can you You pit somewhere in your facility that the people can go play some horseshoes. Something just to add some fun in because If we could laugh If we can smile this will naturally help alleviate Stress by I can’t stress how How important is Is that week Take our vacations we are setting boundaries with work that we are not over continuing to overwork ourselves that are self care. matters because that is how we read build ourselves stronger. That is How we reduce the stress and is how We lead a healthier life. So I hope you guys enjoyed this episode and I will talk to you all.

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