Change is probably the steadiest constant in life, and so is stress!
Exposure to stressors in daily life, as well as over the life course, might be a critical component to health and well-being. As we discussed in Can We Really Sit Through Change, changes are classified as a type of stressor, but the dimensions of stress or the types of stressors that contribute significantly as a risk factor, predisposing the individual to develop psychological illness, are yet unknown. We, at believe-IN, conducted the first-known research study "The Feeling of Fear during Changes", arguing that it is the ‘feeling of fear' that is behind an understanding of stress and its adverse consequences.
How come this matters at an organisational level?
More than just a personal issue, whether on account of life events or transitions, COVID-19 restrictions or work-related, stress and the employees’ mental health can negatively affect any company as a whole. From decreased job performance and productivity to a breakdown in daily functions, improving everyone’s mental health is significant to the company’s growth.
Stress stats are worrisome. In Great Britain alone, 828,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety (new or long-standing), resulting in 17.9 million working days lost, in 2019/20 (Source Labour Force Survey. To find out the story about these key numbers, click here to HSE website).
Stress is defined as the relationship between the individual and the environment. It is focused on the degree to which an event threatens one's well-being or exceeds the individual’s coping resources. A person under intense emotional strain, without adequate external professional support, is exposed to a higher risk of a severe crisis, errors, accidents, poor career prospects, human dysfunction (addictions), absenteeism and presenteeism, loss of productivity, illness and poor decision-making, to name a few. Stress is a part of life, for sure, yet with the ability to cripple our cognitive capacities and well-being.
What’s behind it? Fear. More precisely, the conscious 'feeling of fear'.
First, Fear as an emotion. Emotions are brief, unconscious, cross-species, coherent, fast, and provide an automatic appraisal. They produce changes in the brain, as in the autonomous nervous system, to instantly mobilize the individual for action when they sense that something is compromising welfare. The brain also sends signals, such as alterations in facial expressions, voice, and body posture. However, emotions are processes that evolve into ‘feelings’. The feeling of fear is a component of the basic emotion of fear that brings the emotion process into consciousness – both can be separated in the brain.
Antonio Damasio, the neuroscientist and author, argues that emotions have a communication role in social interactions and serves a cognitive purpose, part of decision-making, suggesting that emotions and feelings are the links between rational and non-rational processes, which distinguishes emotions from feelings. Damasio brings important notions that ‘emotions’, ‘feelings’, and the ‘feeling of feelings’ are processes. Emotions are internal emotional states and unconscious reactions to a stimulus. The process continues, and the next stage is the feeling of the emotion. A “feeling” is still unconscious but portrays a sensorial recognition of the body change. Thus, the “feeling of feelings” occurs when the individual becomes consciously aware of the feeling, meaning that the person detects its body state is changing as a result of a stimulus.
In our research, we found the 'feeling of fear' to be the precursor of stress and anxiety. Influenced by social interactions, it affects the overall experience and well-being. "The Mind is the Commander of the experience of fear during stressful changes. When one perceives new circumstances as being dangerous, the mind strives to find information for protection. If it cannot find information to restore the situation, it goes into overdrive, degenerating into worry, doubt, and rumination, going over possible scenarios or second-guessing about one’s circumstances or outcomes, provoking stress and anxiety." (Márcia Pinho, believe-IN. Make It Happen ®)
According to Health & Safety Executive in 2019/20, Stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 51% of all work-related ill health cases and 55% of all working days lost due to work-related ill health. (HSE report "Work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain, 2020").
To transform the state of these numbers is a long journey and perhaps a structural process that holds corporations accountable to promote healthier work environments. But we must take responsibility for it. It is known that stress can be a positive thing, sometimes providing us with the willpower to do things when we feel tired or uninspired, it can help us focus, reach our goals, push us forward and expand our limits, even avoid imminent danger, but it can also have a pernicious impact in our performance as individuals, with ill-physical health and psychological declines outcomes. For certain that an occasional workshop on stress management is not sufficient, but a Learning Intervention Programme engaging your teams in developing emotional literacy, self-management and self-regulation skills will bring outstanding results in reducing work-related stress in the workplace - Self-Agency!
As a matter of fact, an adult's optimal development is influenced by the competencies of emotional awareness, expression and experience. For instance, Emotional Intelligence argues that people can develop a set of skills to improve accurate appraisals and expression of emotion, in themselves and others, and use this information to reason and problem-solve. Consequently, effective self-regulation is what enables people to reach positive mental health and use feelings to achieve the best life they can aspire to. Likewise, our Change and Transition Interventions Programmes support people to develop the set of skills to manage whatever stressful changes might come ahead, thus becoming a fully functioning individual to their full potential.
Have you been looking for a solution that enables change and prevents stress? At believe-IN, we offer Change and Transitions Intervention Programmes, Psychometric tests and Learning Events. Check below the three Intervention Programmes we have to support you and choose yours.
We work with both individuals and organisations, online, in English, Portuguese and Spanish, worldwide. The first step is for you to arrange your free initial 30-min consultation appointment and find out how we can support you. Go to www.believein.uk/bookings or e-mail us at email@example.com
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