Working with individuals on work-life balance, as well as with groups, I am seeing more and more people with adrenal stress, very often caused by stress from work. Reasons for the stress vary, however these can be self inflicted, such as wanting to be a perfectionist, the inability to say “no”, poor time management, inability to delegate as well as procrastination by putting things off. As for external factors that might cause stress, the first one springing to mind is living in a blame culture, thus creating an environment of fear. Inappropriate leadership styles and habits such as a boss who doesn’t listen, a manipulative leader who can only influence by using manipulation techniques, a boss who lives in crisis due to poor planning and time management or a boss who is unable to communicate effectively, practicing chameleon type behaviours, swinging from one mood to the next.
The Health & Safety Executive estimated that 31.2 million working days were lost due to work-related ill health and non-fatal workplace injuries in 2016/17. 25.7 million were due to work-related ill health! Adrenal fatigue is when the adrenal system struggles to maintain homeostatic balance, leading to depletion and dysregulation of the adrenal glands and Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal axis after a long period of emotional stress or chronic illness. Adrenal stress, due to fatigue presents in different ways. Early signs might be intermittent lack of energy, low motivation and poor sleep. More advanced stages will include these and other symptoms, such as nights sweats, brain fog, lack of energy to do anything, headaches, poor functioning immune system, resulting in colds and flu, as well as cravings for carbohydrate foods and stimulants such as coffee, chocolate and fizzy drinks all giving that quick, short lived, hit or energy boost. (http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/dayslost.htm)
Is management of stress a function of leadership? One could argue that this is personal and thus individual to each person to manage themselves effectively in order to manage what life throws at them, and therefore not under the leadership role or umbrella. However, if work-days are being lost from absenteeism due to overload and stress, it becomes every leader’s concern and issue. Therefore, is it better to manage the situation before it gets to this stage or wait until the person gets sick and submits a doctor’s note?.