Everyone experiences stress; it’s part of being human. Stress responses, like innate fight-or-flight reactions, are hard-wired in our nervous systems to protect us from potential threats and predators. Fear is useful, particularly when it helps us notice and avoid imminent, life-threatening danger. When you slam on the brakes to avoid colliding with a car that pulls out in front of you unexpectedly, fear is crucial. In this situation, the perceived danger sets off a near-instantaneous sympathetic nervous system response, releasing hormones that prime your body to respond to the threat. When the danger has passed (and you breathe a sigh of relief in your car), the parasympathetic nervous system helps calm the hormonal and physiological stress response and return the body to normal.
Chronic low-level stress is a different story. When people feel constantly anxious, stress hormone levels may remain elevated. This can result in irritability, sadness, anxiety, depression, digestive issues, headaches and insomnia.2 Stress may cause other issues that are harder to identify, such as inflammation and compromised immune function.3 Chronic stress can exacerbate conditions like hypertension and diabetes4 and lead to unhealthy behaviors such as overeating or not eating enough, or excessive alcohol consumption or drug abuse.5
And alarmingly, chronic stress may change how our brains work by impairing prefrontal activity (where we do our logical, higher-level thinking) and strengthening amygdala responses (the part of our brain that activates our fight-or-flight reaction).6 To put it simply, over time, chronic stress wears the body down.
Scientists are beginning to examine the widespread impact of pandemic stress. In June 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study of 5,412 U.S. adults.8 The researchers found that 40% of adults were struggling with various mental health conditions. Thirty-one percent of adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, which is roughly triple the reported incidence of anxiety and depression in the first half of 2019.
About This Report
Ideas to Keep Moving While Working from Home:
1. TMOVE EVERY 30 MINUTES.
2. STAND DURING MEETINGS OR CONFERENCE CALLS.
3. FIND AN ONLINE STRETCHING CLASS.
4. TAKE A WALK AROUND THE BLOCK.
5. TURN ON A FAVORITE SONG AND DANCE
Employees worldwide are facing heightened levels of stress, including chronic stress, as they adapt to changes in their work and personal lives. Moving more, sitting less and creating a comfortable home office setup can positively impact well-being, including physical health, mental health and spinal health. With frequent movement and a healthy workspace setup, employees are empowered to work in a way that’s comfortable and supports their well-being now and well into the future.