Stress is a part of life. It can’t be avoided. And, it’s not always bad unless there’s too much of it or it goes on too long—or it’s not handled well. High levels of stress are linked to a myriad of health issues from asthma to heart attacks and more.1 Results from a recently published study even show how the future effects of stress can be seen at a young age. A low stress resiliency among 18-year-old males was found to correlate to an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.2
Both the possession and lack of stress resiliency can have quite an extraordinary impact on a person’s life.
Can stress really be combatted?
Stress resiliency has little to do with the existence of stress so much as it has to do with the response to stress. It is not the absence of stress that displays resiliency but rather the ability to adapt and rebound in the face of stressors like trauma, adversity, threats and more.
The American Psychological Association highlights perhaps one of the most important features of stress resiliency calling it “ordinary, not extraordinary.” 3 Yet, at the same time, both the possession and lack of stress resiliency can have quite an extraordinary impact on a person’s life.
While stress resiliency is something to be “had” it is not something that just magically appears like good teeth genes. You’re not born with it. From the glass-half-empty view, this concept may seem disappointing because it means you have to work at it. From the glass-half-full view it’s quite another story because it means you can learn it.
Wellness programs align directly with the proactive side of developing stress resiliency.
Power to the people
The path to improved stress resiliency addresses both the immediate response to stress at the time it occurs and the proactive steps that can “shore up” a person’s defenses ahead of time. Reaching out for help and support or utilizing deep breathing techniques are examples of things that can be beneficial in the heat of the moment. Eating well, sleeping enough and exercising regularly are examples of things that can build a stronger foundation from which a person can better manage what life throws their way.
Wellness programs align directly with the proactive side of developing stress resiliency. Whether through an employer or a health plan, these programs are ideally suited for helping people improve their ability to withstand stress.
A real-life example
The idea that a workplace wellness program could improve employees’ stress resilience led UK-based catering firm Blue Apple to institute a program focused on this goal.4 Over the course of four months, Blue Apple saw a 10% increase in employees’ stress resilience. Other results included:
- A 26% increase in sleep quality.
- A 19% increase in concentration.
- A 16% increase in mood.
- A 16% decrease in food cravings.
The company’s CEO noted that “the programme has helped extend my life and hopefully I will continue to lead it in a healthier, more mindful way.”
The challenge of reducing stress
The fact that stress resiliency can be positively impacted by wellness programs gives companies and health plans a new opportunity to help their audiences. At the same time, employees or members have yet another reason to take advantage of these programs.