Health insurance stresses me out. Like millions of Americans (who were previously insured), working my way through the new affordable health care law has created stress in my life. Just recently, I received a letter in the mail from my doctor’s office (the one that performed surgery on me and found my cancer), informing me that they did not accept my new health insurance. A phone call later and I learn that the entire hospital does not accept insurance policies that have been purchased on the new Health Insurance Exchange, set up by the Government.
I had stayed with the same health care company (Anthem Blue Cross), but elected to purchase virtually the same plan on the Exchange because it was $50 less in premium per month. I made the mistake of assuming that if it was from the same insurance company that my health care providers would continue to accept it. I was wrong. Apparently, they don’t like the Exchange.
When I think of all the hours I spent being placed on hold, trying to determine if and how I could maintain my insurance coverage, and the financial hit of more than DOUBLING of my premium cost for the same damn plan…and the worry that I won’t be able to see my regular doctors going forward (unless I pay out of network costs!)…I get worked up. I am stressed out just writing about this experience.
[self talk]“Breathe, Kathy. It’s going to be okay. You can find a solution to this problem. Do a yoga pose. Hold the position, but not my breath. Calm. Empty the mind. Breathe. You’re going to be okay.”
Could my personality have something to do with how this kind of stress affects me?
What are the Causes of Job Stress?
According to the Center for Disease Control, individual characteristics such as personality and coping style are most important in predicting whether certain job conditions will result in stress. Below is an excerpt from their article Stress…at Work (DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 99-101)
Nearly everyone agrees that job stress results from the interaction of the worker and the conditions of work. Views differ, however, on the importance of worker characteristics versus working conditions as the primary cause of job stress. These differing viewpoints are important because they suggest different ways to prevent stress at work. What is stressful for one person may not be a problem for someone else. This viewpoint leads to prevention strategies that focus on workers and ways to help them cope with demanding job conditions. Examples of individual and situational factors that can help to reduce the effects of stressful working conditions include the following:
- Balance between work and family or personal life
- A support network of friends and coworkers
- A relaxed and positive outlook
Other “situational” factors that I believe belong on this list include daily exercise, healthy eating, and relaxation techniques, such as yoga and meditation.
Why Stress Management is Not Just a Fad
According to the Mayo Clinic, chronic stress can wreak havoc on your body. Our bodies are hard-wired to react to stress in ways meant to protect us against threats, real or imagined. When we encounter a threat, our body releases Adrenaline and Cortisol into our bloodstream..
“…when stressors are always present and you constantly feel under attack, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on. The long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including:
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment
Read the full article at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037
Heart Disease is the #1 Killer of Women
According to Dr. Anita Kelsey, spokesperson for the Phillips Women’s Heart Program at St. Francis Hospital in Connecticut, stress is one of the controllable risk factors in heart disease. And heart disease is the #1 killer of women. It is no longer regarded as a man’s disease. “Late diagnosis means women are often sicker when they finally seek treatment – that is, if they live long enough to seek treatment. The sobering fact is that 44% of women will die within one year after a heart attack.* As serious and prevalent as the disease is among women, 80% of heart disease can be prevented or delayed.”
*Source: American Heart Association
Ten Yoga Poses for Stress Reduction
I attended a class with instructor, Deb Orosz, and enjoyed learning about yoga poses that help to reduce stress. Most of the participants have never taken yoga before. The class was slow and easy, and I found myself shifting my energy from hyped up to a peaceful, slower state, all within one magical hour.
Deb told a story of a colleague of hers who was experiencing a great deal of stress at the workplace. She advised her colleague to go to the bathroom and do a standing forward bend for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. I laughed when I visualized that picture, but it intrigued me.
Just last night, when I found myself stressed out, I removed myself from a group discussion to the privacy of the bathroom and tried out Deb’s suggestion. I did a standing forward bend and held it for a little over a minute. Slowly coming out of that pose, my head was clearer and my stress level was lower. It worked! I could return to the group discussion in a calmer state. I felt better. More relaxed. Less reactive.
- Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
- Stimulates the liver and kidneys
- Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips
- Strengthens the thighs and knees
- Improves digestion
- Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
- Reduces fatigue and anxiety
- Relieves headache and insomnia
Put these ideas into action
Don’t allow chronic stress to wreak havoc on your body. Make stress management a significant part of your daily care routine. Don’t save it until the weekend or vacation. Find ways to build it into each 24 hours period.
Take regular stress breaks. Allow 1-3 minutes to calm yourself and just “be.” It will shift your energy and mood. And most importantly, it will alter the chemical and hormonal activity inside your body – the same body that you need to do your job and live your life.
Remember this advice the next time you are running from meeting to meeting, attempting to multitask at Olympic levels, etc. Introduce some stress reduction techniques this week. It’s part of your job responsibility as a human being.