Yes, this is just anecdotal, but I believe there is more to this than an either/or debate.
My husband took high blood pressure medicine for years. And he often complained about the stress at work.
Within a month of changing jobs to an organization that was less stressful, his blood pressure went down and he no longer needed the blood pressure medication.
Some bad news for workers facing stress on the job and elsewhere in their life, suggested by 2 studies published this week: stress may contribute to an increased risk of heart disease and may impair short-term memory.
Workers who encounter substantial demands at work and have little control over their situations have an elevated risk of developing heart disease compared with individuals who don’t have to face such psychological stress in the workplace, according to results of an analysis published in the Lancet yesterday…
Stress may also impair an individual’s performance, a study published in PLOS Computational Biology suggests. The researchers found that exposure of rats to stress in the form of blasts of sound alter the firing of neurons in the prefrontal cortex. These changes in firing impair the ability of rats to retain short-term memory, hampering their performance in a maze task. Animals under stress completed the task only about 65% of the time compared with 90% of the unstressed rats.
Don’t Blame Your Employer If You Are Feeling Stressed By Your Job
Work stress, job satisfaction and health problems due to high stress have more to do with genes than you might think, according to research by Timothy Judge, professor of management at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. This information has been published two days after a separate study suggesting that work stress increases an employee’s risk of heart attack by 23%.
The lead author of “Genetic influences on core self-evaluations, job satisfaction, work stress, and employee health: A behavioral genetics mediated model,” published inOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Judge studied nearly 600 twins – some identical, some fraternal – who were raised together and reared apart. He found that being raised in the same environment had very little effect on personality, stress and health. Shared genes turned out to be about four times as important as shared environment.
- Stress breaks loops that hold short-term memory together (scienceblog.com)
- Stress Breaks Loops that Hold Short-Term Memory Together (neurosciencenews.com)
- Stress breaks loops that hold short-term memory together (eurekalert.org)
- Stress breaks loops that hold short-term memory together (sciencedaily.com)
- Job Stress Linked To Heart Disease Risk (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Expert Explains Why Workplace Stress Is Killing All Of Us (businessinsider.com)
- Stress-Induced Impairment of a Working Memory Task: Role of Spiking Rate and Spiking History Predicted Discharge (ploscompbiol.org)
- Workers at Fukushima feel the pressure of blame (newscientist.com)
- How Stress Makes Us Lose Sight of Our Goals (livescience.com)
- Being bossed around at work ‘raises risk of heart attack by 23%’ (dailymail.co.uk)
From KevinMD.com article by SUSAN BIALI, MD on September 9th, 2012
A few weeks ago I was brought in to speak to the staff of a local university. I gave a two hour workshop, which is even more fun for me than giving a keynote as I get to interact personally with the audience and draw their stories out. One of the sections of the workshop was about listening to your body. Every person’s body “speaks” to them in a different way; it’s important to pay attention to and learn to understand and interpret your body’s language.
When your life is off track, your body will let you know. It starts small, whispering to you through minor ailments such as suddenly developing a rash like eczema, or getting mild tension headaches. If you don’t pay attention and make adjustments it will get louder. You might start catching every cold that’s around, or end up with pneumonia.
This isn’t to say that you necessarily caused any and every medical condition you might end up with; there will always be some health situations that we have no explanation for. Yet there’s no question that when you’re out of balance in your life it’s perceived by your body as a stressor, and that can lead to all kinds of secondary consequences (and physical alarm bells). It’s essential to pay attention to this.
While speaking at that university, I asked the audience members if they had any examples of a time their body let them know that something in their life had to change. A small, pleasant-faced woman raised her hand.
“I got diabetes,” she told us. “There’s absolutely no history of it in our family. It was purely due to stress.”
Chronic excess stress could trigger diabetes in a variety of ways: reaching for sugary snacks or other poor food choices to temporarily calm and comfort; lack of time to exercise and maintain a healthy weight; being chronically sleep-deprived (even brief sleep deprivation triggers a pre-diabetic state); or having constantly elevated stress hormones that raise blood sugar.
I asked her what the circumstances were that had made her life so stressful.
“I’m a victim of the sandwich generation,” she said. “I was taking care of my kids, my parents, and everybody else. When I got diagnosed with diabetes, I knew something had to change. I was the person who everyone else came to for Thanksgiving, Christmas, everything. The year I got my diagnosis I told them that if they wanted to eat turkey they could make it themselves, I wasn’t lifting a finger. They didn’t like it at first, but I had no choice. Everything’s so much better now. I made lots of positive changes that were way overdue, and my blood sugar has gone back to normal.”
- Is Getting Sick the Way You Say “No”? (psychologytoday.com)
- 4 Things That Help Stress (& 5 That Make It Worse) (refreshingnews99.blogspot.com)
If you want to feel as if you have more time, try giving it away by volunteering to do things for others, suggests a new U.S. study. (iStock)
Many people these days feel a sense of “time famine” – never having enough minutes and hours to do everything. We all know that our objective amount of time can’t be increased (there are only 24 hours in a day), but a new study suggests that volunteering our limited time – giving it away – may actually increase our sense of unhurried leisure.
Across four different experiments, researchers found that people’s subjective sense of having time, called ‘time affluence,’ can be increased: compared with wasting time, spending time on oneself, and even gaining a windfall of ‘free’ time, spending time on others increased participants’ feelings of time affluence. …
- Volunteering gives you the sense of more free time (scienceblog.com)
- Giving Time Can Give You Time (psychologicalscience.org)
- Giving time can give you time (eurekalert.org)
Financial loss can lead to irrational behavior. Now, research by Weizmann Institute scientists reveals that the effects of loss go even deeper: Loss can compromise our early perception and interfere with our grasp of the true situation. The findings, which recently appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience, may also have implications for our understanding of the neurological mechanisms underlying post-traumatic stress disorder.
The experiment was conducted by Dr. Rony Paz and research student Offir Laufer of the Neurobiology Department. Subjects underwent a learning process based on classic conditioning and involving money. They were asked to listen to a series of tones composed of three different notes. After hearing one note, they were told they had earned a certain sum; after a second note, they were informed that they had lost some of their money; and a third note was followed by the message that their bankroll would remain the same. According to the findings, when a note was tied to gain, or at least to no loss, the subjects improved over time in a learned task – distinguishing that note from other, similar notes. But when they heard the “lose money” note, they actually got worse at telling one from the other.
Functional MRI (fMRI) scans of the brain areas involved in the learning process revealed an emotional aspect: The amygdala, which is tied to emotions and reward, was strongly involved. The researchers also noted activity in another area in the front of the brain, which functions to moderate the emotional response. Subjects who exhibited stronger activity in this area showed less of a drop in their abilities to distinguish between tones.
Paz: “The evolutionary origins of that blurring of our ability to discriminate are positive: If the best response to the growl of a lion is to run quickly, it would be counterproductive to distinguish between different pitches of growl. Any similar sound should make us flee without thinking. Unfortunately, that same blurring mechanism can be activated today in stress-inducing situations that are not life-threatening – like losing money – and this can harm us.”
That harm may even be quite serious: For instance, it may be involved in post-traumatic stress disorder. If sufferers are unable to distinguish between a stimulus that should cause a panic response and similar, but non-threatening, stimuli, they may experience strong emotional reactions in inappropriate situations. This perceptional blurring may even expand over time to encompass a larger range of stimuli. Paz intends to investigate this possibility in future research.
- Minor Stressful Events Can Cause Major Emotional Reactions (psychieblog.wordpress.com)
- Losing money, emotions and evolution (eurekalert.org)
- Predicting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Before It Happens (eurasiareview.com)
- Losing money, emotions and evolution (medicalxpress.com)
- Predicting post-traumatic stress disorder before it happens (medicalxpress.com)
- What is Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? (stoningdemons.wordpress.com)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Disability (socialsecurityhome.com)
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: When It’s Real, It’s Real (blogs.lawyers.com)
Distributions of Psychological Stress in the United States from 1983, 2006 & 2009: Sex
Caption: Until now, comparing stress levels in individuals across the United States over time was not possible due to a lack of historical data that tracks stress using accepted comparable measures. New research from Carnegie Mellon University’s Sheldon Cohen and Denise Janicki-Deverts used telephone survey data from 1983 that polled 2,387 US residents over the age of 18 and online surveys from 2006 and 2009 that polled 2,000 American adults each. All three surveys used the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), a measure created by Cohen to assess the degree to which situations in life are perceived as stressful. In all three surveys, women reported more stress than men.
Results show women report more stress, stress decreases with age, and the recent economic downturn mostly affected white, middle-aged men with college educations and full-time jobs
Until now, comparing stress levels in individuals across the United States over time was not possible due to a lack of historical data that tracks stress using accepted comparable measures.
New research from Carnegie Mellon University’s Sheldon Cohen and Denise Janicki-Deverts used telephone survey data from 1983 that polled 2,387 U.S. residents over the age of 18 and online surveys from 2006 and 2009 that polled 2,000 American adults each….
the results show that women, individuals with lower income and those with less education reported more stress in all three surveys. They also show that as Americans age, they experience less stress and that retirees consistently report low levels of stress, indicating that retirement is not experienced as an adverse event.
“We know that stress contributes to poorer health practices, increased risk for disease, accelerated disease progression and increased mortality,” said Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty Professor of Psychology within CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences who is a leading expert on the relationship between stress and disease. “Differences in stress between demographics may be important markers of populations under increased risk for physical and psychological disorders.”..
“It’s hard to say if people are more stressed now than before because the first survey was conducted by phone and the last two were done online,” Cohen said. “But, it’s clear that stress is still very much present in Americans’ lives, putting them at greater risk for many diseases such as cardiovascular, asthma and autoimmune disorders.”
- Who’s stressed in the US? (scienceblog.com)
- Stressed body can’t control inflammation (futurity.org)
- How stress influences disease: Carnegie Mellon study reveals inflammation as the culprit (eurekalert.org)
- How Does Mood Affect Immunity? (everydayhealth.com)
- Why Stress Might Make You Sick (news.health.com)
- Are Happy People Healthier? New Reasons to Stay Positive (tgrule.com)
- Why being stressed can wreak havoc with your immune system and make you physically ill (victimsofatoscorruption.wordpress.com)
- Inflammation, Stress Make Colds More Likely [Study] (inquisitr.com)
- Is Psychological Stress Causing All of Your Health Ailments? (deretornoacasa.wordpress.com)
Treating childhood anxiety with computers, not drugs (EurekAlert)
I don’t have my hands on the articles now…but recently I have read that men and women really are more alike than they are different..including their psychology…quite different from the “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” model….
Obviously, from the related articles below, gender differences (or lack of) is an ongoing research topic in many circles with differing research results.
Freiburg researchers have refuted the common belief that stress always causes aggressive behavior.
A team of researchers led by the psychologists and neuroscientists Prof. Markus Heinrichs and Dr. Bernadette von Dawans at the University of Freiburg, Germany, examined in a study how men react in stressful situations — and have refuted a nearly 100-year-old doctrine with their results. According to this doctrine, humans and most animal species show the “fight-or-flight” response to stress. Only since the late 1990s have some scientists begun to argue that women show an alternate “tend-and-befriend” response to stress — in other words, a protective (“tend”) and friendship-offering (“befriend”) reaction. Men, in contrast, were still assumed to become aggressive under stress. Von Dawans refuted this assumption, saying: “Apparently men also show social approach behavior as a direct consequence of stress.”….
- Study finds stressed men more social, refutes common belief that stress always causes aggressive behavior (medicalxpress.com)
- Stressed Men Are More Social (tricitypsychology.com)
- Stress Turns Men Into Social Butterflies (livescience.com)
- Stressed men are more social (factday.com)
- Stress Doesn’t Necessarily Make Men More Aggressive (news.softpedia.com)
- Men Deal With Stress More Aggressively than Women, Thanks to a Single Gene (motherboard.vice.com)
- The ‘macho’ gene that makes men aggressive has been found (dailymail.co.uk)
- Men respond more aggressively than women to stress (mayoclinic.com)
(Although the study was on children, wondering if this can be extended to adults, and to some degree, being in community – whether physical or mental or spiritual)
From the 26 January Science Daily article
‘Stand by me’ is a common refrain when it comes to friendship but new research from Concordia University proves that the concept goes beyond pop music: keeping friends close has real physiological and psychological benefits.
The presence of a best friend directly affects children going through negative experiences, as reported in the recent Concordia-based study, which was published in the journal Developmental Psychology and conducted with the collaboration of researchers at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Feelings of self-worth and levels of cortisol, a hormone produced naturally by the adrenal gland in direct response to stress, are largely dependent on the social context of a negative experience.
“Having a best friend present during an unpleasant event has an immediate impact on a child’s body and mind,” says co-author William M. Bukowski, a psychology professor and director of the Concordia Centre for Research in Human Development. “If a child is alone when he or she gets in trouble with a teacher or has an argument with a classmate, we see a measurable increase in cortisol levels and decrease in feelings of self-worth.”
A total of 55 boys and 48 girls from grades 5 and 6 in local Montreal schools took part in the study. Participants kept journals on their feelings and experiences over the course of four days and submitted to regular saliva tests that monitored cortisol levels.
Although previous studies have shown that friendships can protect against later adjustment difficulties, this study is the first to definitively demonstrate that the presence of a friend results in an immediate benefit for the child undergoing a negative experience.
- What are friends for? Negating negativity (eurekalert.org)
- Friends Help Us To Negate Negativity (medicalnewstoday.com)
- The ‘buddy system’ works, Concordia University study says (life.nationalpost.com)
- Study confirms value of close friendships to health (canada.com)
- Study confirms value of close friendships to health (vancouversun.com)
- Friendship can reduce stress of rejection in school kids (news.bioscholar.com)
- Friendship makes a difference in stress regulation (eurekalert.org)
- Friendship Makes A Difference In Stress Regulation (medicalnewstoday.com)
The American Psychological Association’s (APA) newly released report, Stress in America™: Our Health at Risk, paints a troubling picture of the impact stress has on the health of the country, especially caregivers and people living with a chronic illness such as obesity or depression.The Stress in America survey, which was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of APA among 1,226 U.S. residents in August and September, showed that many Americans consistently report high levels of stress (22 percent reported extreme stress, an 8, 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale where 1 is little or no stress and 10 is a great deal of stress). While reported average stress levels have dipped slightly since the last survey (5.2 on a 10-point scale vs. 5.4 in 2010) many Americans continue to report that their stress has actually increased over time (39 percent report their stress has increased over the past year and 44 percent say their stress has increased over the past 5 years). Yet stress levels exceed people’s own definition of what is healthy, with the mean rating for stress of 5.2 on a 10-point scale— 1.6 points higher than the stress level Americans reported as healthy.While 9 in 10 adults believe that stress can contribute to the development of major illnesses, such as heart disease, depression and obesity, a sizeable minority still think that stress has only a slight or no impact on their own physical health (31 percent) and mental health (36 percent). When considered alongside the finding that only 29 percent of adults believe they are doing an excellent or very good job at managing or reducing stress, APA warns that this disconnect is cause for concern.“America has a choice. We can continue down a well-worn path where stress significantly impacts our physical and mental health, causes undue suffering and drives up health care costs. Or we can get serious about this major public health issue and provide better access to behavioral health care services to help people more effectively manage their stress and prevent and manage chronic disease,” says psychologist Norman B. Anderson, PhD, APA’s CEO and executive vice president. “Various studies have shown that chronic stress is a major driver of chronic illness, which in turn is a major driver of escalating health care costs in this country. It is critical that the entire health community and policymakers recognize the role of stress and unhealthy behaviors in causing and exacerbating chronic health conditions, and support models of care that help people make positive changes.”
- Stressed women know it. Stressed men … not so much. (psychologytoday.com)
Human Immune Cells React Sensitively to ‘Stress’(ScienceDaily)
- Stress in America Report: Our Health at Risk, 2011 (bespacific.com)
- Survey: 1 in 5 Americans very stressed (boston.com)
- Is Stress Causing Your Hair Loss? (everydayhealth.com)
- Why Your Stress Problem is Everyone’s Problem (yourmindyourbody.org)
- Know Your Enemy – Physical Consequences of Chronic Stress (drbenitaswartout.com)
- Stress Experts Offer Parents, Children Free Resources During Holidays (prweb.com)
- Stress and Heart Health (everydayhealth.com)
f our instincts can lead us toward physical safety, maybe they can also lead us toward happiness and survival. Selective perceptioncan help us succeed; if we wake up in the morning determined to seek out positive outcomes and be flexible in that process, that decision may lead us toward better choices.
Being Resilient in an Altered Economy
The recession and the fast pace of technological change can be very stressful for workers seeking to adapt to the altered economy. In my field, working with social media and multimedia requires perpetual self-education.
But in this environment of rapid change, we can still work from core values. Rather than making outside economic forces responsible for our happiness, we can choose how we respond to the recession.
Wikipedia’s entry on resilience says:
The American Psychological Association suggests “10 Ways to Build Resilience”, which are:
(1) maintaining good relationships with close family members, friends and others;
(2) to avoid seeing crises or stressful events as unbearable problems;
(3) to accept circumstances that cannot be changed;
(4) to develop realistic goals and move towards them;
(5) to take decisive actions in adverse situations;
(6) to look for opportunities of self-discovery after a struggle with loss;
(7) developing self-confidence;
(8) to keep a long-term perspective and consider the stressful event in a broader context;
(9) to maintain a hopeful outlook, expecting good things and visualizing what is wished;
(10) to take care of one’s mind and body, exercising regularly, paying attention to one’s own needs and feelings and engaging in relaxing activities that one enjoys. Learning from the past and maintaining flexibility and balance in life are also cited.
That’s where I disagree with Ehrenreich’s conclusion. In adverse environmental and economic situations, we can still take responsibility for improving our lives, given the tools we have at hand. We don’t have to wait for larger social movements to solve our problems. On a local and personal scale, we can help the people around us be resilient.
On a personal note, I have found my religion to be a good foundation for resilience building. It isn’t perfect by any means, but aspects as seeing a bigger picture and being with people rooted similarly (but with different gifts and insights) are inspiring.
I do hope all who read this have found ways to ground themselves and grow through being in community or communities which foster thriving.
- Mastering the Art of Resilience… (mindfulmod.com)
- Resilience (grigoriatsiakmaki.wordpress.com)
- New Book: Build your Resilience (Teach Yourself) (philosophy-of-cbt.com)
- Resilience Favors Simplicity. But That Doesn’t Have to Mean Crunchiness. (treehugger.com)
- Blog 5: Community Resilience and Communication (missouricommunication.wordpress.com)
- Blog #5: Increasing Community Resilience (missouricommunication.wordpress.com)
- Blog #5: Community Resilience (missouricommunication.wordpress.com)
- Five Ways To Increase Resiliency (jbdiscovery.wordpress.com)
- Mastering the Art of Resilience… (onmymindwriter.wordpress.com)