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Stress at Work
Workplace Bullying is One of the
Primary Causes of Dangerous Levels of Stress at Work
The Cause of Job Stress
Fatigue Due to Workplace Stress
What are the health effects of bullying?
The list of negative health effects related to bullying
is long. Many of the the consequences are related
to the effect of prolonged exposure to high levels
of stress at work.
Stress can be good for keeping us alert and out of
danger as it allows the body to rev-up our heart rate
and breathing to deal with physical threats to life
However in our modern work world we are more likely
to face threats of a psychological nature, something
our fight or flight mechanism (stress response) was
not designed for.
The stress response can also be triggered by anticipation
of non-life-threatening events such as financial problems,
job security, maritial problems, etc. These stressors
besiege not only mobbing targets but their families
and friends as well, compounding and exacerbating
an already debilitating situation.
The Cause of Stress
at Work Revealed
The truth about stress at work,
stress management, stress relief, stress on the job,
workplace stress, job stress etc.
Stress. It's on everyone's mind. Or rather their
body. But what causes stress? If you've been sent
on a stress management course, or its cheaper alternative,
a stress awareness course, the chances are you'll
have not learned much about the causes of stress.
The only way of dealing with stress is to identify
the cause and then work to reduce or eliminate the
Despite the need for risk assessment and stress audits,
many employers are coy about the causes of stress.
Encouraging employees to endure prolonged negative
stress - such as by forcing them to attend a stress
management seminar - could be setting them up to sustain
further injury to health and stress-related illness.
It's often not recognised
that there are two types of stress: positive stress
results from a well-managed workplace and can be harnessed
to enhance performance, whilst negative stress - which
results in stress-related illnesses and causes injury
to health - results from a badly-managed workplace
in which inadequate employees bully to hide their
inadequacy. When people use the word "stress"
on its own, they usually mean "negative stress".
Stress at work is not the
employee's inability to cope with excessive workload
or the unwelcome attentions of bullying co-workers
and managers; stress is a consequence of the employer's
failure to provide a safe workplace.
Different people respond with different degrees of
stress to different stressors. However, there are
at least four factors which determine the degree to
which one will feel stressed:
Control: a person feels stressed
to the extent to which they perceive they are not
in control of the stressor; at work, employees have
no control over their management.
Predictability: a person feels stressed
to the extent to which they are unable to predict
the behaviour or occurrence of the stressor (bullies
are notoriously unpredictable in their behaviour)
Expectation: a person feels stressed
to the extent to which they perceive their circumstances
are not improving and will not improve. (A bullying
situation almost always gets worse, especially as
one gains insight into the cause.)
Support: a person feels stressed
to the extent to which they lack support systems,
including work colleagues, management, personnel,
union, partner, family, friends, persons in authority,
official bodies, professionals, and the law.
Once the stress response is activated, the body's
energy is diverted to where it is needed, thus heart
rate, blood pressure and breathing rate increase.
All non-essential body functions are temporarily shut
down or operate at reduced level; these include digestion,
growth, sexual systems (menstrual cycle, libido, testosterone
production), immune system, storage of energy as fat,
In response to threat, glucose, proteins and fats
are rapidly released from storage (in muscles, fat
cells and liver) and energy becomes abundantly available
to those muscles which will help you fight the danger
or run away from it. In extreme cases bowels and bladder
will spontaneously evacuate to lighten the load; the
smell may also help to deter the attacker.
There is no point in digestion, reproduction and
immune system etc continuing to operate if you're
likely to be the sabre-toothed tiger's dinner in the
next ten minutes - better divert that energy into
avoiding being on the menu.
Therefore, the prospect of going to work, or the
thought or sound of the bully approaching immediately
activates the stress response, but fighting or flight
are both inappropriate. In repeated bullying, the
stress response prepares the body to respond physically
when what is required is an employer-wide anti-bullying
policy, knowledge of bullying motivations and tactics,
assertive responses to defend ourselves against unwarranted
verbal and physical harassment, and effective laws
against bullying as an ultimate deterrent or arbiter
when all else fails.
Fatigue Due to Stress at
The fatigue caused by bullying is understandable
when you realise that the body's fight or flight mechanism
ultimately becomes activated for long periods, sometimes
semi-permanently. For a person with a regular daytime
job, the activation can last from Sunday evening -
at the prospect of having to go to work the following
day - through to the following Saturday morning -
at the prospect of two days relief.
The fight or flight mechanism is designed to operate
briefly and intermittently, but when activated for
abnormally long periods, causes the body's physical,
mental and emotional batteries to drain dry. Energy
stored in the body as protein, glycogen and triglycerides
is rapidly converted back to amino acids, glucose
and fatty acids etc to help the body deal with the
The process of conversion, achieved via the release
of stress hormones such as glucocorticoids, glucagon,
epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline),
itself consumes energy. The stress hormones also trigger
the conversion of protein in those muscles not required
for fight or flight into amino acids.
Whilst the human body is capable of withstanding
considerable levels and periods of stress, when the
stress response is turned on for long periods, the
body inevitably sustains damage through prolonged
raised levels of glucocorticoids (which are toxic
to brain cells), excessive depletion of energy reserves,
resulting in fatigue, loss of strength and stamina,
muscle wastage (as in steroid myopathy when patients
receive large doses of glucocorticoids to treat various
illnesses), and adult-onset diabetes.
At the weekend and days off, the weakened immune
system cannot fight off viruses (eg colds, flu, glandular
fever etc) and the person suffers constant illnesses
during which the batteries do not recharge. Even without
viral infection, the obsessiveness and disturbed sleeping
patterns prevent the body from replenishing stored
energy. Reactivation of the fight or flight mechanism
prior to returning to work produces a flow of stress
hormones which appear to temporarily suppress the
effects of illness.
This information was compiled and
used with permission.
Special thanks to Tim Field - Bully
OnLine and to No
Bully For Me.
at Home - Stress Relief Techniques
Discover traditional and alternative relaxation techniques
you can use at home to reduce stress and insomnia
as well as improve your quality of life.
and Stress: Is Stress Ruining Your Health?
for Stress and Anxiety: Can Hypnosis Help
to Stop Panic and Anxiety Attacks
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