Stress, the silent stalker

Lizz Fields-pattinson 2012

We are living through a very difficult time and we are constantly being reminded about it. Every day more and news reports that tell us about the amount of people losing their jobs etc. It’s very hard to see a silver lining. Research shows however that the very last thing you need to survive a crisis is to be negative and pessimistic. It actually factors considerably against your success in overcoming the challenge you face. Optimists with a resilient nature bounce back from disaster and can see that things will improve. They see the light not the dark and that makes them more likely to spot an opportunity and go for it in positive way.

Maybe after this prolonged period of doom and gloom the only people left in good health will be those sunny ‘keep smiling through’ people who have always see how it ‘could be worse’. Negative thoughts become self-fulfilled prophesies if they perpetuate and have nothing to break through them. You soon become down about your lot and this can lead those of us of a ‘cup ½ empty’ persona get caught in a downward spiral of negative thoughts. You fail to notice anything that’s good about anything and loose hope that it will ever get better and this often leads on to depression.

There danger of the current situations is stress. This is the silent stalker here we must all be aware of. The work-related effects of people facing uncertainty and sometimes constant change within their teams, work tasks etc. puts them at greater risk. This is a dangerous time not only for our mental health in dealing with lack of continuity and control in our jobs, but also our ability to concentrate is affected causing us to be more distracted and more likely to have ‘slips, trips and falls’ type injuries.

Whether your company has had to lay people off or not the length of time we have all been affected by this feeling of impending doom and now the creeping sense it’s not got an end in sight will be having an effect on us all. We need to look out for the effects of stress in people because they are often the last to see it in themselves. When we are feeling stressed for a prolonged period it can have a very serious effect on our physical health. The adrenaline hormones released to help us deal with the stress full event don’t get used as intended and continue to react in our systems. Our immune system starts to be affected and we succumb to coughs and cold viruses much more. Look out for people you work with having more time off, however the danger is many people feel they shouldn’t take a day off as they will be marking their card as it where should the company start to look at redundancies, so they come in any way, but don’t work well as they should be at home recovering.

So we all need to ‘look on the bright side’ at the moment and especially if you are working with people you know are personally finding it tough. Or maybe that’s you. Discussing your situation can be helpful in looking for a way through and taking control is an excellent defence against our negative thinking. Formulating a plan to deal with debt for example is a positive step forward, not an easy one to deliver on but a plan out of trouble that focuses us in the right direction. Sitting feeling sorry for ourselves is not. Research shows the very things people want to do when they are down is stay in and sit tight and although a period of this is fine, it must be followed by a plan for the future. Getting out and keeping busy are seen to be a very important part of peoples recovery from this type of depressive episode. A supportive network of friends and family who can offer advice and keep a sense of perspective on the situation is also known to be important in recovery.

So whilst organising a ‘keep smiling through’ sing song in the canteen may be a step to far, rallying round to offer support, finding out what support is available are useful, practical ways to help yourself and others. Your company may have an Employee Assistance Programme of some sort that offers advice on debt and legal matters so finding out about this can be a good positive step. There are also many local charities that offer specific information and support for a variety of problems that you can access anonymously if you prefer, eg Citizens Advice Bureau. If you feel that stress is more of an issue for you then the best place to start is with a visit to your GP who can signpost you to other services.