The Price and Prevention of Chronic Stress
Chronic stress is an epidemic. Prolonged bouts of intense stress are taking a significant toll on people’s minds, bodies, and wallets.
From headaches to heart disease, stress is a key contributing factor in a broad range of health problems. Research has demonstrated that acute stress – short periods of intense stress – can result in arrhythmia, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular issues (Krantz et al., 2013).
The dangers of chronic stress are just as, if not more, significant. Studies suggest that individuals facing chronic stress are at a higher risk for cancer and cardiovascular problems (Mohney, 2018). Chronic stress can also exacerbate existing medical conditions and make it more difficult for individuals to recover from illness (Krantz et al., 2013). Furthermore, many people adopt unhealthy habits to deal with high stress levels. These coping mechanisms, such as smoking and overeating, put stress sufferers at an even greater risk for disease (Krantz et al., 2013).
Equally as alarming are the negative effects that chronic stress can have on people’s brains. The human body releases a hormone called cortisol in response to stress. In a recently published study, neurologists found that, over time, individuals with high amounts of cortisol in their body demonstrated lower levels of cognitive functioning and higher levels of memory loss than individuals with low amounts of this hormone (Ducharme, 2018).
Over time, subjects in the high cortisol group also experienced greater damage to the areas of the brain associated with motor function, thought, and emotion. The researchers who conducted this study suggest that damage of this kind may be an early predictor of dementia in later life (LaMotte, 2018). Thus, identifying and reducing points of stress may be a key factor in maintaining good physical and mental health in both the short and long term.
While chronic stress assaults physical health, it also drains the financial health of individuals and their employers. The health care costs for workers who report feeling stressed are nearly 50% higher than those for workers who are not chronically stressed (Smith, 2016).
Chronic stress is also associated with employee absenteeism. In a 2017 survey conducted by Benefits Pro, a third of respondents reported avoiding work for at least 2 days each month due to high stress levels (Cook, 2017). Additionally, employees in high-stress work environments tend to be less productive and involved in more accidents than those in lower-stress workplaces (Smith, 2016).
Combining the costs of absenteeism, declines in productivity, and insurance, it is estimated that American companies lose between $300 and $500 billion per year due to employee stress (Mohney, 2018). With such a high price for stress, employee wellness programs may be well worth the investment for many businesses.
As awareness of the costs of stress has grown, so too has the number of tools available to combat it. Maintaining an active social life, regularly exercising, and engaging in relaxing activities like yoga and meditation can help minimize stress (Krantz et al., 2013).
The Versus system can also be used on its own, or in conjunction with these strategies, to manage chronic stress. By playing games for as little as 20 minutes per day, 3 times per week, Versus users can reduce their stress levels, improve their sleep patterns, and enhance their concentration. Versus’ mobile design makes it ideal for at-home and in-office use; the headset is also easy to share among colleagues, family, and friends. Take a step toward a less stressed life by getting started with the Versus system today.
Cook, D. (2017). Workplace stress costing employers $500 billion annually. Benefits Pro, 20 Oct. Retrieved from https://www.benefitspro.com/2017/10/20/workplace-stress-costing-employers-500-billion-ann/
Ducharme, J. (2018). Stressed-Out People May Have Smaller Brains, Study Says. Time, 24 Oct. Retrieved from http://time.com/5432172/stress-cortisol-brain/
Krantz, G., Thorn, B., Kiecolt-Glaser, J. (2013). How Stress Affects Your Health. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress.aspx
LaMotte, S. (2018). Stress might lead to memory loss and brain shrinkage, study says. CNN, 25 Oct. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/24/health/stress-memory-loss-under-50-study/index.html
Mohney, G. (2018). Stress Costs U.S. $300 Billion Every Year. Healthline, 08 Jan. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health-news/stress-health-costs#1
Smith, J. (2016). Here’s why workplace stress is costing employers $300 billion a year. Business Insider, 06 June. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/how-stress-at-work-is-costing-employers-300-billion-a-year-2016-6