Break for Stress
Research has shown that training employees how to better manage high-pressure situations can significantly lower stress levels and reduce job burnout. Dr. Anne-Marie Duchemin, research scientist and Associate Professor Adjunct in the department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center, and colleagues conducted a study to determine whether simple on-the-job relaxation techniques could help to reduce stress levels. For the 8-week-long study experts trained nurses working in a surgical intensive care unit how to use relaxation techniques (including mindfulness, gentle stretching, yoga, meditation and music) to deal with on-the-job stress. Before the study began, participants scored the level of stress of their work at 7.15 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most stressful. While there was no change in the perceived level of work stress throughout the study, the participants reaction to work stress changed significantly. Salivary alpha amylase, a biomarker of sympathetic nervous system activation, was measured at baseline and then again at the end of the study, and results showed that it was reduced by 40% in the intervention group. "The changes in the levels of salivary alpha-amylase suggest that the reactivity to stress was decreased after the 8 week group intervention," said Dr Duchemin. “Although work-related stress often cannot be eliminated, effective coping strategies may help decrease its harmful effects." An estimated one million US citizens a day miss work because of stress.