AMY BARTELS, M.Ed.

AMY BARTELS, M.Ed.

Would you like to have a better handle on how to cope with the impact of change in the workplace?  University of Missouri Extension experts Amber Allen and Amy Bartels, Human Development and Family Science Field Specialists have written a series of articles to help learn how to retain and support your employees, and how to navigate stressful times in the workplace. This is the second of a five-part series.

One of the buzzwords of the last decade is “stress.” That rings especially true for 2020, but stress can be difficult to define. 

The way we perceive, and subsequently deal with that stress ultimately affects our overall heath. Most people tend to focus on stress as something with negative association. However, stress is not always harmful. In fact, research shows that healthy stress actually results in increased productivity. 

The American Institute of Stress suggests two categories to help define stress. In small doses, stress is good (eustress)— such as when it helps you conquer a fear or gives extra endurance and motivation to get something done. But prolonged stress, (distress) which is often caused by worries such as money, jobs, relationships or health can lead to burnout. Burnout is the result of the prolonged chronic stress of situations that leave people feeling a lack of control in their lives. 

Certain conditions of a job can create a greater risk of burnout, including a high level of demands, unclear expectations, lack of recognition for achievements and a high level for a risk of negative consequences when mistakes are made. 

Whether it be sudden and short or long-lasting, feeling stress for too long—whether for several hours, days or months—sets off your body’s warning system of physical and emotional alarms. There are many variables in the stress that individuals may be dealing with, but two you may see frequently in the workplace are: 

  • Acute stress: This is the type of stress that throws you off-balance momentarily. It
  • comes on quickly and often unexpectedly and doesn’t last too long, but requires a
  • response and shakes you up a bit, like an argument with someone in your life, or a
  • project for which you don’t feel adequately prepared.
  • Chronic stress: This is the type of stress that tends to occur on a regular basis. It may
  • leave you feeling drained, and can lead to burnout if it’s not effectively managed. This
  • is because, when the stress response is chronically triggered and the body is not
  • brought back to a relaxed state before the next wave of stress hits, the body can stay
  • triggered indefinitely.

Your body’s stress warning signs tell you that that something isn’t right. Much like the “check engine” light on your car’s dashboard, if you neglect the alerts sent out by your body, you could have a major engine malfunction. Taking time to check your level of stress can lead to a longer, healthier life.

University of Missouri Extension programs focus on the high-priority needs of Missourians to improve lives, communities and economies by providing relevant, responsive and reliable educational solutions. MU Extension programs are open to all. More information on this topic is available online at https://extension2.missouri.edu or call the Christian County office at (417) 581-3558.

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