It's crunch time. The laidback days of summer are just a sunny blur in the rearview mirror, the end of the year is looming and, for many of us, the pressure is piling up. And stress at work, unfortunately, doesn't stay there. It can spill over into your home life, wreck your sleep, and even damage your long-term health. The most insidious part, notes Cynthia Howard, CEO of executive coaching firm Ei Leadership, is that "you can't think your way out of a stress reaction. Trying to shut it off with rational thought won't work."
That's because our central nervous systems respond to risk or danger with an urge toward "fight, flight, or freeze," and in the workplace, you can't usually afford to do any of those. "The human machine isn't designed to handle the speed and complexity of life today," Howard says. "The basic human operating system hasn't had an upgrade in about 100,000 years."
Constant stress is one reason why, in spite of remarkable medical advances, heart disease remains stubbornly widespread. A Gallup study this past July found, for instance, that reporting to a tyrannical boss isn't just unpleasant: it can markedly increase your chances of developing cardiovascular illness.