Stress is something we all deal with on a daily basis. However, despite stress being such a universal human experience, it’s not well understood by most. That’s why during the month of April, three clinical psychologists on the Big Health Team shared powerful insights into stress: the difference between “good” and “bad” stress, how stress affects us in the workplace, and ways mental and physical health are impacted by stress. To learn more about how to recognize and manage your own stress, check out the videos below from Dr. Michelle Davis, Dr. Jen Kanady, and Dr. Juliette McClendon.
The difference between good stress and bad stress
Generally when we hear about stress, it’s in a negative context: After all, unchecked, long-term stress can be detrimental to your physical and emotional health, and quality of life. But not all stress is bad. To explain, we have Dr. Michelle Davis, Clinical Innovation Lead for Anxiety at Big Health and a clinical psychologist by training.
In short, Dr. Davis explains that a certain type of stress called “eustress” is seen as good, healthy stress by professionals. When it comes to focus, performance, and purpose, we’re actually at our best when under a moderate amount of stress. It’s when that stress exceeds moderate levels and becomes something we struggle to handle that stress becomes negative. You can tell the difference by thinking about the stressors in your life: If they’re manageable with your existing resources and coping skills — instead of leaving you feeling overwhelmed and stuck — then your stress is at healthy levels.
Stress in the workplace
One of the most common places for stress to show up is at work. In fact, one large study found that over a third of people across various professions reported being “often” or “always” stressed. In the video below, Dr. Jen Kanady, Big Health’s Clinical Innovation Lead for Sleep and a clinical psychologist by training explores the causes and effects of work stress.
As Dr. Kanady explains it, many people suffer from work stress because they feel as if they aren’t able to cope with daily pressures. This has negative impacts on job performance, job satisfaction, and overall wellbeing. Work stress can be reduced, though; higher levels of autonomy, connection, and support can all help keep work stress levels lower
How stress impacts mental and physical health
Our final video for Stress Awareness Month featured Dr. Juliette McClendon, Director of Medical Affairs at Big Health and clinical psychologist by training. In this video, Dr. McClendon explains the effects chronic stress can have on the mind and the body.
As Dr. Davis noted in the first video, not all stress is bad. However, when stress becomes too much for people to manage over a long period of time, even more problems can follow. Poor sleep, weakened immune systems, and higher risk for chronic disease are all potential results of chronic stress. Mental health challenges such as new or worsening symptoms of anxiety and depression are also possibilities.
Dealing with stress
As Drs. Davis, Kanady, and McClendon all noted, not only is stress sometimes a good thing, but unhealthy stress can be addressed. Ensuring you have strong coping skills and support resources can help you deal with stress when it starts to become too much. At work, ensuring you — and the people who may work for you — have high levels of autonomy and reasonable work demands are key ways to avoid workplace stress from becoming too much.
Want to share one of these videos with your network? You can find the good vs. bad stress, stress at work, and effects of stress videos on the Big Health LinkedIn page.
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