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Chronic stress can cause brain damage

Chronic stress can cause brain damage

Trevor 3 comments

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has long been recognized as a stress related illness that is usually associated with soldiers in warfare; however, new studies suggests that long-term work related stress can also have a similar impact on our brain structure, similar to PTSD. Structural changes include a difference in volume of gray matter versus white matter, and a change in size and connectivity of the amygdala.

Effects on Uncontrolled Stress

“In the short term, a stressful work environment can contribute to problems such as headache, stomachache, sleep disturbances, short temper and difficulty concentrating. Chronic stress can result in anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. It can also contribute to health conditions such as depression, obesity and heart disease. Compounding the problem, people who experience excessive stress often deal with it in unhealthy ways such as overeating, eating unhealthy foods, smoking cigarettes or abusing drugs and alcohol.” –American Psychological Association

person losing idea

Types of Work Related Stress

These are only some examples of stressors, and they will be different for each person. Do you recognize any of the following as a work –related stress for yourself?

1. Low salaries

2. Excessive workloads

3. Few opportunities for growth or advancement

4. Work that isn’t engaging or challenging

5. Lack of social support

6. Not having enough control over job-related decisions

7. Conflicting demands or unclear performance expectations

person with wires coming out of head


Managing Stress

Track your stressors: keep a journal for a week or two to identify which situations create the most stress and how you respond to them. Record your thoughts, feelings, and your surroundings. How did you react: did you raise your voice, go for a walk, or go for the vending machine?

Develop healthy responses: Instead of engaging in unhealthy reactions such as overeating or drug abuse, you should seriously consider ‘exercise’ as a healthy alternative. Doing things we enjoy also reduces stress levels, so make time for hobbies and favorite activities.

Establish boundaries: With the pressures of staying connected at all times of the day through emails and social media, make sure you draw some lines separating your personal life and work life. Choose something that you’re comfortable with, such as not checking your email after a certain hour.

Take time to recharge: Vacation time exists for a reason; it is designed to allow you to unwind and recover. So don’t overlook your vacation time because you think that you need to keep working, this down-time will allow you to recover and come back as a productive member of the team. The more stress you have, the more mistakes you’ll make and the less productive you’ll be at work.

Learn how to relax: If you’re taking time off work but still thinking about work, you’re not really taking time to relax and recharge. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness (a state in which you actively observe present experience and thoughts without judging them) are all good options that you could start doing today.

Talk to your supervisor: A healthy team member is a productive team member. Have a conversation with your supervisor on how you can improve your time management skills and also, create a plan to address your stressors. This is not about complaining, but rather, working together and developing a plan to reduce your stress. This might be a good opportunity to clarify work expectations, getting necessary resources or support from colleagues, enriching your job to include more challenging or meaningful tasks, or making changes to your physical workspace.

Get some support: Accepting help from friends and family can also improve your ability to manage stress. If your stress levels do not improve over time, consider talking to a professional psychologists who can help manage your stress.

brain made up of clogs

Sources: Psychology Today, APA




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noviembre 12, 2014 at 9:40 am

Journaling definitely helps me a lot! Usually right after work when I get home I try to something in my house to clear my head from the day such as cleaning, exercising, cooking, or talking on the phone to family or friends. If I have to continue working on something that night, I always try to give myself a break before I continue.


noviembre 13, 2014 at 10:38 am

Great advices! It’s very important to have a personal routine to relax at the end of the day.


noviembre 25, 2014 at 2:00 pm

I usually has been in a stressful situation. But it s good to know or to have in mind this simple options on how to relax myself. It helps me a lot this blog. Thank you.

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