This morning I was watching Good Morning America and they had a segment on “Bullying Bosses” at work. The story was about how to deal with a person who used his or her power as a boss to demean or treat you poorly. As I watched the segment it reminded me of a situation that a friend of mine is working through right now. It also reminded me of situation that occurred to me on a long-term project I was working on. In both cases the work situation with the supervisors' behavior was so toxic that it caused stress to the employee that had to work with them (me and my friend). I will speak for myself and say the situation of dealing with a difficult boss caused me constant daily stress. It became so physically and mentally exhausting that I preferred to give up that income source instead of continuing to work in that stressful environment.
Why did I decide that the stress was so dangerous for me? Stress is one of the major causes of disease in the body. It amazes me that it is so underestimated how chronic stress is a risk factor for so many disease processes including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Stress is a part of the normal life cycle but stress, or more specifically the release of stress hormones is only supposed to happen for very short burst of time when we are confronted with a life threatening situation. Our stress hormones create a cascade of biological events that allow us to become very alert and able to move out of a harmful situation quickly. Once we have gotten away from that harmful situation we can then relax and move into a state of relaxation so our body can recover from the stressful event. When you are confronted with constant stress it slowly begins to wear down your body and puts you at a greater risk for the diseases I have mentioned above, as well as anxiety, depression, the tendency to get colds and the flu multiple times per year and so many others.
So what do you do about stress? There are several options but the number one based on numerous studies is to exercise. Exercise has been shown to be as effective reducing stress as some medications.