Managing Stress At Work: Three Things Your Employer Could Do For You

Earning a living can be stressful. Whether it’s time constraints, difficult colleagues, a lack of autonomy, or an unreasonable workload, it’s hard to think of a job that doesn’t come with a certain amount of pressure.

This can have a negative impact on a person’s mental and physical health, and is a major cause of long-term absence from work. An excessive level of stress is bad for people, and it’s also bad for the organisations they work for.

Often though, the responsibility for managing stress is left with the employee. Employers tend to think their role lies in helping staff better manage their own individual situations, perhaps by changing their own behaviour or perceptions.

This may involve things like time management workshops or mindfulness classes – ideas directed at the individual with the aim of enabling them to be better at their job.

But these kinds of interventions place the burden of ultimate responsibility on the employee. And in doing so, organisations feel less obliged to alter the stressful environment by increasing resources, reviewing job descriptions or improving manager training. To get an alternative view, I spoke to employees about their experiences of attempts to reduce stress levels in the work place. And here are three things your organisation could actually do for you to reduce work related stress

1. Identify stress points

It is impossible to tackle the causes of stress if an organisation doesn’t know what they are. During my research, participants spoke of the importance of initiating and maintaining dialogue between various groups including employees, trade unions, human resources and senior management.

This can be done by regular “pulse checking”, using surveys or one-to-one reviews and a continual observation of staff wellbeing. One housing association employee told me that at their work place, “the union was hammering on the door to [hold] a stress survey”. She added: “[Management] know it’s a top issue.”

2. Train managers

My research suggests that the role of managers is a key part of employee wellbeing. Managers tend to be the ones in charge of setting deadlines, communicating expectations and dealing with employees’ successes and failures.

Due to their crucial role, it is vital that any employee with managerial responsibilities receives proper training. This could cover aspects of making deadlines reasonable, being educated on the various help mechanisms that the organisation has in place for their employees and tools to help managers identify stress in their teams.

Management training can – and should – look different in every organisation and department due to their unique qualities and challenges.

One major management quality that was underestimated (but considered by many to be invaluable) was compassion. Although some of my participants had very demanding jobs and personal circumstances, having a compassionate and well informed manager made all the difference to their day-to-day lives.

Someone who works in higher education commented: Management skills are not just about delegating the work – [they are about] building a team, recognising when people are struggling, and [being able] to approach that. It’s really personal.

Another said: “Some managers can be very supportive and understanding, but some managers would just say: ‘Do this, and I want it done today.’”And one respondent noted: “I think I’ve got the best manager going. She’s not only my manager, she’s my friend as well, and that’s nice. I can talk to her.”

Compassionate management can be as simple as asking how an employee is doing, properly listening to them, and perhaps a small gesture like having a cup of coffee together. It sounds simple, but compassion towards employees and colleagues tends to depend on individual behaviour rather than being something that is encouraged systematically at an organisational level.

3. Make someone responsible

When I asked who was responsible for managing stress in an organisation, many of the people I spoke to gave conflicting answers. Some (after much thought) said it was the HR department, while others (including a member of an HR department) said it was occupational health professionals.

A housing association employee described a situation where “there’s lots of work to be done [around stress] but no one is leading on it, no one is joining it up”. They added: “It’s all been very hit and miss.”

The lack of clarity is an obvious cause for concern. If nobody knows who is in charge of a particular aspect of employee wellbeing, it is unlikely to be properly addressed. There needs to be clarity – and accountability – around who is responsible for managing stress, so that initiatives can be put in place, and so that people know where to turn when they need help.

By:

Teaching Associate in Human Resource Management, University of Manchester

Source: Managing stress at work: three things your employer could do for you

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The Power of Social Touch: How a Loving Caress Really Can Ease Anxiety

(George Wylesol for The Washington Post)

When Valentine’s Day arrives Tuesday, many people will show their love and affection with cards, chocolates and gifts, but there is another way to make your partner or family member feel good — through touch. Studies show that social touch is essential to our mental well-being and can reduce stress and pain while helping us bond with one another.

Physical isolation during the coronavirus pandemic led many to develop “skin hunger” and resulted in an uptick in mental health problems. One 2021 study surveying almost 1,500 participants reported that deprivation of intimate touch from close family and partners was associated with worse feelings of anxiety and loneliness.

Lack of friendly or professional touch from friends, acquaintances or work colleagues did not have the same impact on mental health.How we can feel social touch. Social touch is so important for our well-being that we have specific cells in our skin to detect it. Our skin gives us the power of discriminative touch, which allows us to feel the pressure, texture and vibration of objects.

But our skin also has sensors known as C-tactile fibers or afferents that are specifically sensitive to social touch from people and the caress of a loved one. C-tactile fibers innervate hairy skin and are optimized to detect the gentle stroking touch of 1 to 10 centimeters (half- to four inches) per second that many people say is pleasant. If the movement is too fast or too slow, not only are the C-tactile fibers less responsive but people also find the sensation less pleasing.

Interestingly, they are also more attuned to warmer temperatures of around 32 degrees Celsius (almost 90 degrees Fahrenheit), akin to the warmth of a person’s skin. There are individual differences, however, in the need and craving for social touch. “I think touch is very important,” said Mariana von Mohr, a researcher specializing in social cognition at Royal Holloway University of London.

“But at the same time, we have to be a bit careful about these individual differences because there are people that might prefer to connect in some other way.” But in general, intimate touch between loved ones is important for emotional regulation and social buffering, where being together with others helps us handle and recover from stress.

The benefits of social touch

Social touch causes the release of the social-bonding hormone oxytocin in the brain, which is thought to reduce anxiety and pain. Von Mohr’s research has found that romantic partners felt less pain when receiving a slow, stroking touch compared with a faster touch. Other studies have found that touch enhances intimacy between couples.

In one study, 84 adult women participated in an experiment showcasing the soothing power of affective touch on feelings of social exclusion. Each participant played Cyberball, an online ball-tossing game, with two other players who, unbeknown to the subjects, were bots that would eventually stop throwing the virtual ball to the participant.

When that happens, it can produce a profound sense of social exclusion, and even led to “one participant actually smashing the computer,” von Mohr said. But when half of the participants received a slow, affective touch from the experimenter afterward, their feelings of social exclusion were partially mitigated. The other half of participants who received a fast-stroking touch, which would not activate C-tactile fibers, did not experience similar relief.

This is akin to a mother comforting a child after a similar experience of social hurt, von Mohr said. “We do this sometimes without realizing how good it is,” she said. All mammals that have been studied have C-tactile fibers, suggesting that these sensory cells — and the ability to detect social touch — are evolutionarily conserved and essential, said Ishmail Abdus-Saboor, a biological scientist specializing in touch research at Columbia University’s Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute.

From skin to brain for pleasurable social touch

Research suggests that social-touch-sensitive neurons may be key for making the touch of a loved one feel good, which in turn helps bind us. A study in Cell this month found that directly stimulating neurons in female mice — similar to C-tactile fibers in humans — can release dopamine, a neurochemical associated with reward, in their brains. These Mrgprb4 neurons are also necessary for female mice to be receptive to sexual advances from male mice.

Using optogenetics, a now-mainstay neuroscience technique that allows researchers to manipulate the activities of specific neurons by shining a light on them, researchers activated the Mrgprb4 sensory cells on the back, an important area for social touch in mice where they groom and huddle together. The researchers saw that the female mice would lower their backs in response to the light, which is lordosis, a female mouse sexual behavior indicating receptivity to a male mouse.

The finding that activating cells in the skin can trigger a “social touch-like behavior even without other sensory cues” such as the presence of another mouse “was pretty surprising,” said Abdus-Saboor, who was an author of the new study. Stimulating Mrgprb4 neurons was pleasurable, and female mice spent more time in designated sections of the cage where researchers activated the cells.

Intriguingly, stimulating these sensory neurons and engaging in sexual behavior both released dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, a key brain area associated with reward. But when the researchers genetically ablated these Mrgprb4 sensory neurons, sexual experiences no longer released dopamine and the female mice began rejecting the male mice’s advances after their first experience.

The male mouse’s touch was no longer rewarding, and the male’s advances were no longer welcome. The female mouse would even become combative with her paws up, making herself inaccessible to the male. “I sometimes think she throws a punch,” said Leah Elias, a postdoctoral researcher at Johns Hopkins University who conducted the study as a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania.

Though this study examined the importance of pleasurable touch to sexual behaviors in mice, the researchers say the Mrgprb4 cells also play a role in other forms of affiliative social touch such as play. Before the touch signals reach the brain, “even at the first relay station in the skin, there are already dedicated cells that are competent to engage social stimuli,” Abdus-Saboor said. Their research opens up a potential target for future therapeutics that can use the skin to access reward circuits to help treat trauma or depression.

“Just by activating these neurons in the skin, you kind of have a highway to the brain,” Elias said. “It’s kind of a gold mine.”With just a hug, a caress or a gentle squeeze of the hand, we can already take advantage of the power of social touch. To feel better, healthier and more connected, skin deep is a good place to start.

By

Source: The power of social touch: How a loving caress really can ease anxiety – The Washington Post

.

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5 Surprising Things That Happen To Your Body When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

Photo by nadia_bormotova/Getty Images

Even before the pandemic, more than a third of Americans weren’t getting the recommended seven plus hours of nightly sleep that industry professionals recommend. Add the stress of everyone’s new reality, and, by certain estimates, 68% of Americans say they just aren’t getting enough rest.

While you’re probably aware of some of the issues, like mental fog, that can arise when you don’t get enough rest, you may not be aware that your snoozing habits may impact all sorts of unexpected things—think: how well your heart pumps blood, and even your sex drive.

“Most of the systems in our body are predicated on some process of renewal or need for sleep,” explains board-certified sleep medicine researcher W. Christopher Winter, MD, the author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It. “Sleep is a fundamental aspect of our thinking, our ability to function, and our immune system. It impacts pretty much everything we need to survive.”

So turn off your phone, close the shades, and hop into bed early tonight. If you don’t, here’s how a lack of sleep may impact your body.

1. It can hurt your immune system.

“There’s a very strong link between sleep and the immune system in general,” says Michael Awad, MD, chief of sleep surgery at Northwestern Medicine and chief medical officer of Peak Sleep. “The body repairs just about every cell in the body when it comes to sleep. Sleep deprivation lowers the body’s ability to mount an immune response.”

Sleep loss is linked to a higher risk of infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One study published in JAMA found that restricting a person’s sleep for four hours a night for six days, followed by sleeping 12 hours a night for seven days, can lead to a greater than 50% decrease in the production of antibodies to a flu vaccine. Basically, your body just can’t mount the usual immune response when you’re wiped out.

Lack of sleep can also lower your immune system’s ability to fight tumor cells and lead to the generation of inflammatory cytokines. These proteins are secreted by the immune system and can cause the development of metabolic and cardiovascular disorders.

2. It can raise your risk of heart disease.

One study of nearly 117,000 people published in the European Heart Journal found that people who slept less than six hours a night were at a greater risk of developing heart disease than their well-rested counterparts. And getting irregular sleep—that is, having no consistent bedtime and wake time—can raise your risk of having some kind of cardiovascular event, including stroke, congestive heart failure, and coronary heart disease, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

There are a “tremendous number of mechanisms” at play here, Dr. Winter says. “When you are sleep deprived or have fragmented sleep, your blood vessels lose, to some extent, the ability to expand and contract to regulate things,” he says. People also tend to be at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure when they don’t get enough sleep, Winter says, which can be tough on your heart.

Sleep deprivation can also increase cholesterol levels and general inflammation throughout your body, leading to the formation of plaque in the blood vessels, Dr. Awad says. “When blood vessels start to form plaque, the heart has to work harder,” he explains.

3. It can lower your sex drive.

There are a lot of reasons for this, Dr. Winter says. “When you’re fatigued, your brain prioritizes getting sleep over other things,” he says. But Dr. Winters says other chemicals that are important for sexual performance and arousal, such as oxytocin, can be lowered by sleep deprivation.

One study in JAMA restricted 10 men’s sleep for a week and found that the levels of the sex hormone testosterone in their bodies decreased by up to 15%. (Testosterone is a hormone that can fuel a person’s sex drive.) The reverse is also true: Another study published in JAMA found that people who got more sleep than usual were more likely to have sex the next day. Meaning, if you hit the hay earlier, you just might be up for a little something extra.

4. It can raise your risk of weight gain.

There are a few reasons for this. One is that people “tend to make bad eating decisions when they’re tired,” Dr. Winter says. People are also typically more sedentary and less likely to work out when they’re tired, which also can lead to weight gain, he says.

Research published in the journal Sleep found that people with restricted sleep had altered levels of endocannabinoids, one of the chemical signals that affect appetite, and the brain’s reward system. The researchers also discovered that when people were sleep-deprived, they ate more and unhealthier snacks between meals, at the same time that endocannabinoid levels were at their highest.

Older research has also found that women who get less sleep tend to weigh more than their better-rested counterparts, likely for the reasons above, Dr. Winter says.

5. It can increase your risk for developing diabetes.

There’s a direct correlation between lack of sleep and diabetes, Dr. Awad says. It’s due to your body’s ability to regulate insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas that controls your blood sugar, he says. “Lack of sleep reduces the production of insulin from the pancreas and decreases gluten tolerance,” Dr. Awad says. “Cells are then less effective at using insulin, and that can lead to the development of diabetes.”

To be clear: Sleep deprivation isn’t cited by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) as a potential cause of diabetes, but insulin resistance—which can be caused by lack of sleep—is.

How to Finally Get More Shut-Eye

If you’re struggling with sleep, Dr. Winter recommends first trying to prioritize rest and practicing good sleep hygiene. That includes the following, per the CDC:

  • Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on weekends.
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature.
  • Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smartphones, from your bedroom.
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bed.
  • Exercise regularly. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.

If these tried-and-tested tips don’t help, Dr. Awad says it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about what else you can do to get the rest your body needs.

By: Korin Miller

Source: 5 Surprising Things That Happen to Your Body When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

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Related contents:

Sleep disorders are associated with more parental stress CNN

What are sleep disorders? Pakistan Observer
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Resilience Journey For Moms Self Paced Course

This course aims to equip overwhelmed moms with the right tools and resources to prepare them to bounce back easily in the face of stressful situations. You will be able to shift your mindset from negative to positive, balance your emotions and help build new habits, so that you will find inner calm, be more present, live a more peaceful life and set an example of resilience for your children and your family.

It’s a self-paced course with life-time access. The course can be completed in as little as 8 weeks. The Resilience Journey is a personal development program that will give you full awareness of what is going in your mind (thinking) and in your heart (feeling), we reconnect both aspect and integrate them into a self-care plan.

But hey, this is not easy, and you’ll have to be committed and ready to change, so that this program can be put into action. And by commitment we mean 1 hour per week. This program can be completed as quickly as 8 weeks. Don’t get me wrong, there will still be stressful situations, because stress is part of our life, but you will be able to handle them without being much affected.

Overwhelm and frustration from little things ending up in shouting to your children, resulting in moms guilt, that would disappear.You would set an example for the whole family about how it is possible to respond in healthy ways to challenges and stressful times. And THAT is empowerment at its best.

Source: https://stressilience.com

.

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5 Ways To Improve Your Self Care

[Photo: Boris SV/Getty Images
                          

Source: 5 ways to improve your self-care

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Related contents:

“Exploring the Correlates of Self Provided Health Care Behaviour”. In Coburn, David; D’Arcy, Alex; Torrance, George Murray (eds.). Health and Canadian Society: Sociological Perspectives. University of Toronto Press. pp. 279–280. ISBN 978-0-8020-8052-3. Retrieved 29 August 2013.

“Self-care: What is it? Why is it so important for your health?”. UAB News. Retrieved 29 November 2022.

“Self-care interventions for health”. http://www.who.int. Retrieved 29 November 2022.

“Self-management interventions: Proposal and validation of a new operational definition”. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. 80: 34–42. doi:10.1016/j.jclinepi.2016.08.001. PMID 27531245.

Do self-management interventions in COPD patients work and which patients benefit most? An individual patient data meta-analysis”. International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. 11: 2063–2074. doi:10.2147/COPD.S107884. PMC 5012618. PMID 27621612.World Health Organization.

WHO consolidated guideline on self-care interventions for health”. Retrieved 8 September 2021.Eze, Nkiruka D.; Mateus, Céu; Cravo Oliveira Hashiguchi, Tiago (2020).

Telemedicine in the OECD: An umbrella review of clinical and cost-effectiveness, patient experience and implementation”. PLOS ONE. 15 (8): e0237585. Bibcode:2020PLoSO..1537585E. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0237585. PMC 7425977. PMID 32790752.Sterling, Madeline R.; Barbaranelli, Claudio; Riegel, Barbara; Stawnychy, Michael; Ringel, Joanna Bryan; Cho, Jacklyn; Vellone, Ercole (2020).

The Influence of Preparedness, Mutuality, and Self-efficacy on Home Care Workers’ Contribution to Self-care in Heart Failure”. Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing. 37 (2): 146–157. doi:10.1097/JCN.0000000000000768. PMC 8196074. PMID 33315614.Lorig, Kate R.; Holman, Halsted R. (August 2003).

Self-management education: History, definition, outcomes, and mechanisms”. Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 26 (1): 1–7. doi:10.1207/S15324796ABM2601_01. ISSN 0883-6612. PMID 12867348. S2CID 3678991.Harris, Aisha (5 April 2017). “A History of Self-Care”. Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 29 November 2022.Taylor, C. (2019). A brief history of self-care, and the OG (original guru), Socrates. https://mashable.com/article/self-care-history

“The Ideas of Socrates”. 27 March 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2022.Kecklund, G.; Axelsson, John (2016).

Health consequences of shift work and insufficient sleep”. BMJ. 355: i5210. doi:10.1136/bmj.i5210. PMID 27803010. S2CID 206912413.

“Self-care is changing health care around the world”. Doctors Without Borders – USA. Retrieved 29 November 2022.Rodrigues, Cecília; Mendonça, Denisa; Martins, Maria Manuela (3 July 2018).

Basic self-care in older acute medical in-patients: a retrospective cohort study”. Porto Biomedical Journal. 3 (1): e1. doi:10.1016/j.pbj.0000000000000001. ISSN 2444-8664. PMC 6726298. PMID 31595230.

“Self-care during the COVID-19 pandemic”. Mayo Clinic Health System. Retrieved 29 November 2022.

“Self‐Care for the Prevention and Management of Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke”. Journal of the American Heart Association. 6 (9). doi:10.1161/JAHA.117.006997. PMC 5634314. PMID 28860232.De Maria, Maddalena; Ferro, Federico; Vellone, Ercole; Ausili, Davide; Luciani, Michela; Matarese, Maria (May 2022).

Self‐care of patients with multiple chronic conditions and their caregivers during the COVID‐19 pandemic: A qualitative descriptive study”. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 78 (5): 1431–1447. doi:10.1111/jan.15115. ISSN 0309-2402. PMID 34846083.

“Self-care research: Where are we now? Where are we going?”. International Journal of Nursing Studies. 116: 103402. doi:10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2019.103402. PMC 7035984. PMID 31630807.Baah, Foster Osei; Teitelman, Anne M.; Riegel, Barbara (2019).

Marginalization: Conceptualizing patient vulnerabilities in the framework of social determinants of health-An integrative review”. Nursing Inquiry. 26 (1): e12268. doi:10.1111/nin.12268. PMC 6342665. PMID 30488635.Gonzalez, J.S.; Safren, S.A.; Cagliero, E. (2007).

Depression, self-care, and medication adherence in type 2 diabetes”. Diabetes Care. 30 (9): 2222–2227. doi:10.2337/dc07-0158. PMC 4440862. PMID 17536067.

Self-care Science, Nursing Theory, and Evidence-based Practice. Springer Publishing Company. pp. 39–41. ISBN 978-0-8261-0779-4. Retrieved 25 August 2013.Ziguras, Christopher (2013).

Self-care: Embodiment, Personal Autonomy and the Shaping of Health Consciousness. Routledge. pp. 14–15. ISBN 978-1-134-41969-2. Retrieved 31 August 2013.

“Psychometric Testing of the Revised Self-Care of Heart Failure Index”. Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing. 34 (2): 183–192. doi:10.1097/JCN.0000000000000543. PMC 7179813. PMID 30303894.Ausili, Davide; Barbaranelli, Claudio; Rossi, Emanuela; Rebora, Paola; Fabrizi, Diletta; Coghi, Chiara; Luciani, Michela; Vellone, Ercole; Di Mauro, Stefania (16 October 2017).

Development and psychometric testing of a theory-based tool to measure self-care in diabetes patients: the Self-Care of Diabetes Inventory”. BMC Endocrine Disorders. 17 (1): 66. doi:10.1186/s12902-017-0218-y. ISSN 1472-6823. PMC 5644085. PMID 29037177.Vaughan Dickson, Victoria; Lee, Christopher S.; Yehle, Karen S.; Mola, Ana; Faulkner, Kenneth M.; Riegel, Barbara (February 2017).

Psychometric Testing of the Self-Care of Coronary Heart Disease Inventory (SC-CHDI)”. Research in Nursing & Health. 40 (1): 15–22. doi:10.1002/nur.21755. ISSN 1098-240X. PMID 27686630. S2CID 22027492.Riegel, Barbara; Jaarsma, Tiny; Lee, Christopher S.; Strömberg, Anna (19 November 2018).

Integrating Symptoms Into the Middle-Range Theory of Self-Care of Chronic Illness”. Advances in Nursing Science. 42 (3): 206–215. doi:10.1097/ANS.0000000000000237. ISSN 1550-5014. PMC 6686959. PMID 30475237.Palo Stoller, Eleanor (1998). Ory, Marcia G.; DeFriese, Gordon H. (eds.).

Self-care in Later Life: Research, Program, and Policy Issues. Springer Publishing Company. pp. 24–25. ISBN 978-0-8261-9695-8. Retrieved 28 August 2013.Jimmy, B; Jose, J (2011).

Patient medication adherence: Measures in daily practice”. Oman Medical Journal. 26 (3): 155–159. doi:10.5001/omj.2011.38. PMC 3191684. PMID 22043406.

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