What’s causing all this stress?

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Being trapped in a workspace throughout the day can seem very struggling and stressful. Whether you are in an office sitting all day or working with your hands all day mowing lawns, everyone takes time out of the day to eat. Without eating your body does not have the energy to maintain throughout the day? The word “hangry” was created to combine both hungry and angry together. What exactly is going on in the brain when you are deprived of fuel? What happens when your body is not getting enough nutrients that we need? These are questions that I am planning on researching. I am focusing my research mainly on how chronic stress can cause many issues for an individual, especially mental health. Stress is defined as the feeling of strain and pressure. Today we live in a world where many of us are working overload. It has become a problem for many employees in organizations. We are seeing many organizations taking action of this cause and creating wellness plans to help promote healthier lifestyles for employees. This article will be focusing on factors that cause the most stress, how individuals deal with stress, and emotional and spiritual health of adult individuals as well as mental health issues that correlate to stress.

Being in the workforce requires responsibilities from several different aspects. An independent employee may have fewer responsibilities than an employee who is required to take care of another. In a 2008 survey, 40% of workers in the United States reported that they are the caregivers of someone over 65. Many adult Americans have an average of 40 hours or more of work during a week. Stress is a naturally occurring instinct of all human beings. Stress has been traced backed to the cavemen where their fight or flight adaptions would come into play for survival. Today as a nation we do not need to worry as much on whether we are going to be attacked by other species, instead we have stress from every day struggles such as bills, children, dinner and mostly work. Humans are more sedentary today then have ever been before. One study had found that around 70% of time spent at work is sedentary. Being inactive has lead many people to live unhealthy life styles. Sedentary lifestyles have been the cause of many physical disabilities and diseases such as diabetes and obesity. These diseases can be caused by both lacks of physical activity as well as a poor diet.

Stress and daily health are two important factors that should be taken into consideration when dealing with adults. Stress is relevant to in every discipline. Psychology is the main contribute to stress. Many neurotransmitters are released in the brain when an individual is under high stress. One of the most common neurotransmitters that are released during stressful moments is norepinephrine or also adrenaline. This is the immediate response to a stressful situation, and mostly related to the fight or flight response. Another neurotransmitter is cortisol. This is usually released when the body is under chronic stress. To much of cortisol can cause issues to the immune system, produce acne, cause obesity and raise blood pressure. These are all serious health problems that can cause serious mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. This leads to the next discipline with is health education. Many individuals are not aware of their chronic stress. Health education shows the techniques as well as proper ways to stay active. When the body is receiving the proper amount of nutrients as well as physical activity, the body can heal its self quicker as well as be free from other illnesses. Individuals who are relatively active have less of a chance of injury and other illness as well. Most of our jobs today are run through a corporation or other business. The discipline of business plays a large roll for stress because managers are responsible for the well being of their employees. Many people work long hours during the day, which make it difficult for them to participate in other activities such as going out for a walk. Business is an important because employees who are under a lot of stress may have difficulties performing well which can affect the company. Limited time to eat lunch can cause someone to eat poorly. If an employee is not happy where they are, they will not work to their full potential. By decreasing the level of stress in an employee, corporations can see large improvements.     

Diet and stress  

America is faced with many options today for places to eat. One of the main contributors to obesity is lack of nutrients or poor diet. When you think of a poor diet, most people think about fast food, chips, soda, candies  and etc. With little time to prepare a well nourished meal, employees may have to resort to a quick unhealthy meal. Research has shown “ what we eat, directly affects the structure and function of our brain.” ( Chawla). Diet is an important role on overall health in a workplace because it controls our energy throughout the day as well as our thought process. “ Certain foods that we consume play a major role in increasing the frequency, depth and duration of bouts or anxiety” (Virginia Technological College of Agriculture & life sciences). Many studies have shown links to depression. One of the most common sources of food is simple sugar. Sugar has been linked to depression because it makes the brainwork at a high level. Eating high amounts of sugar has also proven to cause diabetes, which is a serious health problem. Another common ingredient in many of our foods today is a artificial sweetener. “Aspartame which is a common ingredient found in diet soda, blocks the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. This can cause changes in all manners such as headaches, insomnia, mood changes and depression.” ( Chawla). When an individual is under stress they may part take in many risky behaviors such as consumption of alcohol. Although alcohol to a moderate level is fine, when an adult is under stress they may drink more than usual. Alcohol is a depressant that depresses the central nervous system. This can then lead to depression as well.

Some healthy alternatives that can boost mental health are foods that are rich in nutrients. These include foods such as oats, spinach, oily fish, fruits as well as drinking plenty of water. ” Water is extremely important for our bodies to function properly- and even the smallest degree of water loss can impair our physical and mental well being” (Chawla). By feeding our bodies with healthy nutrient, our brain function can increase and show positive results for mental health.

Physical activity and stress

Along with a poor diet, lack of exercise has been linked to cause mental issues. The recommended amount of moderate activity an average adult should participate in is 300 minutes a week. This averages around 5 hours a week. Many studies have found that exercise can reduce levels of stress.  ” This demonstrates again that physical activity participation may be an effect strategy in reducing college students’ stress levels, hence alleviating their depression and anxiety level as well.” ( Angst et Al. 2004). Another study performed by Harvard on individuals who were 50 years and older who were regularly physically active were more optimistic as well as content with life compared to those who are not active. 

Many of these health factors are related to issues within the workforce. Stress from workloads have caused many of us to put our health aside and cope with it in unhealthy ways. I have been in many situations before in the workforce as well as being a student. When I am running many tasks for my job at home, I do not take time to think about what I am eating. This is mainly to do with the stress levels that I face to get the job done. Also when working long hours, i feel my body slowly breaking down and going weak. A study in Sweden was conducted by reducing working hours. “Reduced working hours had a positive effect on restorative sleep, stress, memory difficulties, negative emotion, sleepiness, fatigue and exhaustion”  ( Dahlgren 2005). This proves that working long hours can affect the positive health outcomes.

During the summer, I would work over 16 hours on some days, both manual labor and customer service labor. These working hours took time away from me doing the things I enjoy. This led me to eat unhealthy food because of the lack of time. I did not have the time or motivation to go to the gym as well. Overall the disciplines of business, psychology mental health and health promotion all took part of this stressful experience. My managers would expect a lot from me but my mentality was not in the right place. Today employees are faced with high levels of stress.

This stress can be because of a financial issue but can also be cause by many unhealthy activities that we are doing to ourselves. Sitting at a desk for hours a day can make an individual become lazy and unmotivated. What’s really causing all this stress in employees? Organizations need to take a larger look at the health benefits offered to employees. By doing this, employees can change their lives in many positive ways as well as bring positive aspects to a company. Mental Health issues have been growing in the United States over the last decade. Think about how much time you really have in a day to do the things that you want. Think about the time you have to make a well-nourished meal. Are you ever hungry during work, but did not have enough time to make a meal? These are questions that organizations should be asking their employees. By doing this, an organization can compromise on ways to better the overall health and stress levels of their employees.

FURONG, X., WENHAO, L., CHEPYATOR-THOMSON, J. R., & SCHMIDLEIN, R. (2018). RELATIONS OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND STRESS VULNERABILITY IN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS. College Student Journal52(1), 65-73.Barck-Holst, P., Nilsonne, Å., Hellgren, C., & Åkerstedt, T. (2017).

Reduced working hours and stress in the Swedish social services: A longitudinal study. International Social Work60(4), 897-913. doi:10.1177/0020872815580045

Janssen, M., Heerkens, Y., Kuijer, W., Engels, J., & van der Heijden, B. (2018). Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on employees’ mental health: A systematic review. Plos ONE13(1), 1-37. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0191332

Workplace Stress, Stress Effects, and Coping Mechanisms in the Construction Industry. (2014). Journal of Construction Engineering & Management140(3), 1. doi:10.1061/(ASCE)CO.1943-7862.0000807

Maulik, P. K. (2017, October). Workplace stress: A neglected aspect of mental health wellbeing. Indian Journal of Medical Research. pp. 441-444. doi:10.4103/ijmr.IJMR_1298_17.

Chawla, G. (2018). Boosting mental health through dietary intake. Indian Journal Of Health & Wellbeing9(2), 312-313.

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