Sunday, 21 August 2011 16:00The myth of the "supermom" - a woman who can juggle a successful career and full-time parenting - appears to put a lot of pressure on women who choose to have both a job and a family, sometimes even leading to depression.
A study that was conducted at the University of Washington reveals that mothers who expect to make minor sacrifices in work or home life, such as skipping a kid's soccer game or leaving work early for a recital, tend to be mentally healthier than their counterparts with high expectations of themselves.
"Women are sold a story that they can do it all, but most workplaces are still designed for employees without child-care responsibilities," said lead author Katrina Leupp. "You can happily combine child rearing and a career, if you're willing to let some things slide."
The study involved 1,600 working moms who were 40 years old and married.
It's likely that women who feel pressured to be "supermom" experience high levels of workplace stress. Results of this study suggest that employee wellness programs that provide tips for a balanced life and stress management may help working moms perform better both on the job and at home.
Wednesday, 17 August 2011 16:00For many workers, taking a break in the middle of the day to eat a healthy lunch is a great way to relieve the stress of the morning and prepare for the tasks and problems of the afternoon.
While many managers realize this and encourage breaks, employees who experience high levels of workplace stress appear to be skipping lunch, according to a study conducted by UK insurance group Aviva.
“It’s well-documented that eating more healthily can improve general well-being and life expectancy, so there are countless benefits to adopting this approach in the workplace," said Doug Wright, head of clinical development at Aviva.
About one third of workers said that they routinely skip a midday break, and 25 percent said they will only leave the office for food if their workload allows it. Some 13 percent of survey respondents said they avoid eating at work altogether.
The survey also revealed that about 43 percent of employers encourage healthy lunches, but a total of 39 percent of organizations that offer food don't include nutritious items.
Employee wellness programs that provide tools and resources for stress management may help workers relax enough to realize that their bodies and brains need fuel to function properly.
Tuesday, 16 August 2011 16:00A study that was conducted at the Institute of Occupational Medicine at the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Italy revealed that job stress among hospital and health clinic employees is strongly associated with a higher prevalence of hand dermatitis and other skin infections.
This may have a significant impact on employee performance in this industry, considering that hand-washing is an important part of preventing the spread of bacteria in healthcare facilities.
The research determined that heavy job demands, low social support and intense workplace stress were linked to the onset of skin infections. A total of 25 percent of workers reported having hand dermatitis within the previous year, and an additional 35 percent said they have had skin infections on other body parts.
"High demands, high strain, and the combination of strain with isolation (iso-strain) increased the reporting of skin disorders in the year prior to medical examination, whereas social support exerted a protective effect," said study authors, quoted in the journal BioMed Central.
Previously, a National Institutes of Health study revealed that job stress is associated with a higher rate of both inflammation and infection. The research was conducted at Ghent University in Belgium.
Results of this study suggest that healthcare workers may be in need of employee wellness programs that provide tools and resources for stress management.
Monday, 15 August 2011 16:00In a mouse model, researchers at the University of Haifa found that anxious mothers may have offspring that exhibit anti-social behavior.
However, they also discovered that stress-relieving interventions for the parents were effective in reversing this effect to some extent.
"As our study shows that the inheritance of the effects of adversity can be modified by timely intervention, this may have important educational and therapeutic implications,” said lead author Micah Leshem.
Since working mothers are by no means uncommon in today's workplace, the findings have some relevance to workplace stress and preventing social problems in future generations.
Stressed-out moms may find some relief in HeartMath's emWave2®. The handheld device has been shown to be effective in relieving feelings of tension inside and outside of the office.
The emWave2® is an interactive system which reads the user's heart rhythm through finger or ear pulse, providing immediate feedback through a visual displace. Using the tool may help employees learn how to reverse their stress and gain control over their mind and emotions.
Sunday, 14 August 2011 16:00"Comfort foods" are known as such for a reason, since individuals often reach for the cookies or potato chips when they are feeling stressed and are in need of relief. A study conducted by researchers at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary's Faculty of Medicine recently examined the brain mechanisms behind this effect.
Scientists discovered that stress has the potential to lead to a "re-wiring" of the mind, in which a person's ability to regulate their appetite or food intake is impaired.
Authors of the study noted that humans likely evolved to have this response, since an absence of food causes stress and the effect would spark early humans to seek out a source of nutrition.
"Furthermore, the fact that the lack of food causes activation of the stress response might help explain the relationship between stress and obesity," said co-author Quentin Pittman, Ph.D.
In a mouse model, the researchers observed that blocking a stress hormone in rodents alleviated the brain effects that were previously shown to lead to overeating.
Some workers often go to lunch for pizza or burgers as a release from the day's stressors, but this may lead to an overweight, unproductive workforce. Employee wellness programs that provide tools and resources for stress management may be helpful in teaching individuals how to let go of their anxiety in a healthy way.
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