Health concerns in everyday stress

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By Mathew McKay
Rawlins Daily Time
mmckay@rawlinstimes.com

RAWLINS — Stress is a normal feeling millions of workers across the county have, whether from working overtime, working two jobs, covering extra workloads, the daily grind or simply working a job they may not fully enjoy.

A survey from the American Psychological Association (APA) showed that more than one-third of American workers experience acute work stress — stress related to demands and pressure. As many as 50 percent of employees admit they stay up late stressing about work.

While the stress rate is high at work, it can be just as high for those without work. And businesses and employers in Wyoming know this all too well.

In 2016, Wyoming saw its oil and gas prices fall and the energy industry plummet, hitting the state’s coffers and leaving many without work. According to the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, the number of unemployed Wyomingites grew to 17,053 in June 2016, compared to 12,000 in June 2015.

In either case, for those employed and unemployed, stress is the number one reason for health concerns and visits to the doctor. According to The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 75 to 90 percent of all doctor visits are stress-related.

Some of the most basic health concerns of stress are chest pains, elevated blood pressure, headaches, upset stomachs, lack of sleep and memory impairment. Some of the more severe results of stress include diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

In contrast with those who struggle with acute stress, studies show people who have been laid off and deal with chronic stress are more common to shut down emotionally and spiritually.

According to the APA, chronic stress “is the grinding stress that wears people away day after day, year after year” and “kills through suicide, violence, heart attack, stroke and, perhaps, even cancer. People wear down to a final, fatal breakdown.”

While unemployed people may seem to have more availability to help themselves relieve stress, it is those same people who have a harder time staying active, healthy and involved.

In fact, the 2011 Public Health National Prevention strategy series showed that laid-off workers were 54 percent more likely to have fair or poor health and 83 percent more likely to develop stress related health conditions.

The biggest difference between acute stress and chronic stress is lack of security.

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Patrick Gonzales, Executive Director of Carbon County Counseling Center, said many people who experience the normal stress of time and a heavy workload often have an outburst of emotions.

“They tend to be anxious, tense and short tempered,” he said. “I think when you are unemployed we are more vulnerable to negative feelings about ourselves and our self-esteem,” Joe Forscher, Executive Director of Clinical Operations at Central Wyoming Counseling Center said. “It can really be a negative cycle if we are not careful.”

The important thing in times of acute stress is to have positive people around, Forscher said.

“If it gets to the point when someone gets really despondent and desperate, I hope the network of people would recognize that and take some measures to intervene,” Forscher said.

The important thing in times of acute stress is to have positive people around.

For people dealing with chronic stress and unemployment, family and friends can intervene in situations by helping in the job search. Those stressed can help themselves as well by getting involved with others and finding confidence, which often starts with having a purpose — and taking the steps to find a job often can remind people of that purpose, Forscher said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “engaging in healthy activities and getting the right care and support can put problems in perspective and help stressful feelings subside in a few days or weeks.”

Some tips for getting rid of stress from the CDC include eating healthy, well-balanced meals, exercising on a regular basis, getting plenty of sleep and giving yourself a break when you feel stressed out.

According to the CDC, drugs and alcohol do not ease stress, even though they seem to. “In the long run, they create additional problems and increase the stress you are already feeling,” the CDC stated.

While stress can be overwhelming at times, Forscher said stress could also be a lesson for many moving forward, saying it makes people appreciate what job they have more, as well as the appreciation that changes in life bring.

To contact the Carbon County Counseling Center, call (307) 324-7156.

For the Central Wyoming Counseling Center, call (307) 237-9583.

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Rawlins Daily Times

The Daily Times got its start in December 1889 as the Rawlins Republican, a newspaper started under the guidance of publisher H. B. Fetz. The Rawlins Republican was published weekly until 1936, when the name was changed to the Rawlins Republican-Bulletin and was made a five-days-a-week daily newspaper.