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Find Out What Happens When Your Workplace Helps You Fight Stress


Workplace stress and its serious health effects are fairly well known. But usually dealing with that stress becomes the individual employee’s problem.

I have known many people who gained weight, watched their blood pressure climb, and later ran into diabetes and early heart disease symptoms, as they struggled with stress on the job. Others successfully fought back with stress reducing classes like yoga, and hobbies that they loved that proved to be great diversions.

But what happens when companies get into the picture?

Aetna Insurance did just that with a recent employee study where they offered a class on Mindfulness at Work and Viniyoga Stress Reduction to a test group of employees. The employees learned yoga postures, breathing techniques, guided relaxation and mental skills. They were also taught ways to cope with stress when it showed up.

The program offered weekly in-person classes, home practice handouts and yoga break handouts for home and office use. A group of 96 employees were randomly assigned to mindfulness-based classes. Ninety were randomly assigned to therapeutic yoga classes and 53 were randomly assigned to the control group.

Not surprising, the test results showed about 36 percent of the group with classes had reduced stress, versus the control group with an 18 percent reduction. The mind body intervention participants also showed improvements in heart rate tests which suggests the body learned to handle stress better.

Where This Could Lead

This could be the start of greater company involvement in fighting stress. Recently I talked to some designers who create office cubicle workplaces and they say the trend now is to make them worker friendly, introducing all sorts of stress reducing sound buffers, and a wide variety of configurations with plants.

Considering the fact that employees who run into stress are said to have about $2,000 more in doctors’ expenses annually, this may just make good bottom line sense for the companies.

Dr. Ruth Wolever of Duke University said the connection between higher stress and medical costs is logical. Stress puts individuals at risk for coronary heart disease, some cancers, diabetes, depression, anxiety and obesity. Anything individuals and companies can do to reduce that stress should help reduce overall health care costs. 

However it comes about, the more recognition of the problem, and the more individual help employees get, the better the workplace can become.

If stress is an issue for you, treat it seriously and see a counselor, along with relaxation classes. If it persists, see your doctor and get more help.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Jim Larrison

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