The body reacts to stress in an automatic physiological reaction.
This is a bodily behaviour that we could see as an emergency behaviour over which we have no control and is followed by specific actions.
Slap? Run? Go foetal?
Our innate and overt reaction to stress is well known; it is fight, flight and freeze. These are things we, possibly, should do based on our physiological setup, yet, commonly we do not:
Slap! - A customer or client who stresses us.
Run! - When being forced to share our workspace – hot desking.
Go foetal! - When the appraisal meeting becomes a slaughter.
The fact is, the more we adhere to social norms (our own norms), the more we are going to suppress these innate and reactive behaviours to stress.
I am not saying to go out and slap the person who annoys you, run from every confrontation you encounter or become paralysed in the face of adversity. But to learn to be aware of these behaviours (wanted or not) and learn how to use the stress-energy functionally. In the context, we are living in.
Stress and our context
We are embedded in our social context. The social context may ask us to perform actions that are grossly removed from what our body prepares us to do.
As a result, a lot of mobilised substances and energies are floating around in our body – and are not being utilised. We need to keep the social context in perspective.
Of course, if this happens once in a while, we can dismantle and reabsorb the non-utilised energy. Yet if it happens again and again and again, the stress will leave a footprint. It will shape and possibly even reshape our bodies, minds and brains – and change our behaviour.
Focus on the effect it has on you:
Working consistently against our physiology can put us on the slippery slope to physical and mental suffering. This is true for individuals and the organisation. Both endanger their wellbeing.
An individual can fall ill, experiencing psychological and physiological problems. An organisation can experience an increase in sick days, resignation and consequently, a decrease in profit and prosperity.
Knowing your stress-levels is important to be able to manage them early and be stressed less overall.