Here at Golden Door Elysia we see the impact of chronic stress on a regular basis. 1 in 4 guests express the desire to learn ways of better dealing with stress, with many experiencing chronic health problems that are typically associated with long-term stress. Sleeplessness, poor digestive health, decreased vitality and lowered immunity are often associated with chronic stress, with such symptoms further compounding the complexity of daily life.
Despite best intentions to prioritize wellbeing, the incidence of corporate stress is on the rise. Recently, the SMH reported “an analysis of 30,000 health assessments of Australian executives by Executive Health Solutions found that female executives are more likely to show symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression than their male counterparts (1) ”.
The importance of this study is even more concerning for women aged 30-40. The researchers found that female executives between the ages of 30-40 were in fact three times more likely to show symptoms of stress than their male counterparts, due largely to managing family responsibilities, ingrained gender roles and the incumbent pressure of professional performance.
As we know, stress is a normal part of everyday life. Yet living with chronic stress (even so called “low-grade” stress) can have a major impact on wellness and overall performance. When stressed, the ability to digest and absorb nutrients is significantly diminished which may lead to digestive disorders, bloating, IBS-like symptoms, food sensitivities and inflammation. If left untreated, stress-related changes can occur within the digestive tract which may be associated with negative mental states or moods, in turn leading to anxiety, depression and even cognitive disorders
Fortunately, simple mindfulness techniques can be extremely effective in counteracting the impact of stress. A highly useful breathing technique we share with guests here at GDE involves taking the time to extend and count the out breath or exhalation. Breathing in for a count of 4 then out for a count of 6-8 can activate the relaxation response. This sends a powerful signal to the sympathetic nervous system which counter balances the effects of adrenal stimulation associated with stress. The physiological impacts of stress start to decrease, which in turn triggers the body more effectively back toward a state of equilibrium.
Another way to combat the impact of chronic stress – especially on the digestive and central nervous systems – is through healthy eating. Simply choosing to eat a broad range of fresh fruit and vegetables every day can do wonders for the health of our microbiome (the trillions of micro-organisms which aid in digestion, assimilation and immunity). By feeding our microbiome with the right food we counteract low- level inflammation and other digestive disorders that are commonly linked to chronic stress.
At a professional level, the potential returns are huge. It is well known that a highly stressed workforce will impact on staff resilience and performance. In turn, overall organizational success will be directly influenced by employee stress. “Organizations need to understand the wellbeing of senior people has a big impact on the wellbeing and the performance of the whole organization because they set the climate, the environment, so it must be managed, (2)” Stressed executives tend to make more blinkered choices, show diminished problem-solving skills and must counteract the consequences of a weakened immune systems. The GDE Corporate Wellness Program is specifically designed to help professional people recognize the impact that stress is having on their bodies before its too late, then learn simple strategies yet highly effective strategies that have a huge impact on day to day life. For female executives more the ever, taking time out for recharge and self-care is a critical, growth-mindset tool for achieving professional excellence.
Article By Damian Rocks, Golden Door Program Consultant