I attended a brilliant two day course this week on Stress Management and came back stressed! Not because the actual course itself was stressful but because it took 2 days out of my week and I had loads to catch up on when I came back (sound familiar?!).
The course was at the British Psychological Society in London with Stephen Palmer, who has written a really good book on the subject as well,
Stephen Palmer & Cary Cooper (2010) How to Deal with Stress
Before I’d even got to London I wondered if the white men in the white van would take me away on arrival as I had committed the cardinal sin of speaking to strangers on public transport? I then went one step further and spoke to people on the platform at the tube station, on the Northern Line, but sssssh, don’t tell anyone about that one!
As with the Resilience breakfast briefing I blogged about last week there was quite a bit of information given to us about the statistics in connection with the cost of ill health at work. There was also information about the physiological impact on the body from stress and one thing that did stick in my mind was from an article published in the British Medical Journal in a study of industrial employees (Kivimaki et al., 2002) to say that job strain and effort-reward imbalance were each associated with a doubling risk of cardiovascular death (who were free from overt cardiovascular diseases at baseline).
There was also a study in the BMJ (Vahtera et al & Kivimaki et al, BMJ 2004) talking about the effect of downsizing. Major downsizing is associated with increased sickness absence in permanent employees and cardiovascular mortality was 2 times higher after downsizing.
I’m not trying to scare people with these statistics (although I may have scared myself somewhat)! I think it’s important to think about these findings next time we choose to get stressed.
I think that was the big piece of learning I got out of this, you can control it.
Stress occurs when perceived pressure exceeds your perceived ability to cope. What I’ve deduced from this is that it’s our perceptions and thinking that leads us to feel stressed which then sets off the fight or flight reactions in our bodies.
When we’re feeling stressed we tend to ‘awfulise’ things and focus on the negative, I’ve been in that position many times myself. To try and change the way we think we need to challenge our thinking. Is your belief about something logical? Is it helpful? Is it realistic?
I’ve got some coursework to do and I shall be practising on myself and looking at how I can alleviate my stress inducing thinking. If I don’t report back then I may be a lost cause but I’ll try my best!!