Workplace Bullies Can Stress You Out and Leave You Sick
If you are the target of workplace harassment and bullying, it’s likely that you are also experiencing a high degree of workplace stress. Have you thought about the effects of workplace stress on your body? It may be time you do–before the bully’s behavior begins to affect your health.
Chronic or long-term stress, the kind you experience when you are dealing with workplace harassment and bullying, can damage your health. Consider this:
• You become more susceptible to depression, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, ulcers and possibly cancer. These diseases are more likely to occur in a person who is experiencing chronic stress, because the individual’s “fight or flight” response is always turned on. In this response, certain hormones are released, giving the body a burst of strength and energy. Over a period of time, the continuous release of these hormones and your physical reactions to them wear away at your body.
As an example, consider your reaction if a person swerves into your lane as you’re driving 70 miles an hour down an expressway. For a moment your attention is riveted on avoiding the accident. You slow quickly to allow the driver to enter your lane ahead of you; for a few minutes, your heart races. You might even break into a cold sweat. Once the danger is over and after a few minutes pass, however, your heartbeat returns to normal and you relax again.
But think about how you’d feel if you were avoiding a near-accident every few minutes. Your body doesn’t have time to recover. That’s exactly what happens when you are dealing with a workplace bully. Never knowing when the bully will attack, your body is in a state of constant readiness, your “fight or flight” reactions are activated, and your body is experiencing continuous wear and tear.
In addition to the diseases mentioned, reactions to long term stress can cause:
• Premature aging–which is evident in appearance and frailty–and diminished resistance to osteoporosis, arthritis and type 2 diabetes
• Chronic depression
• Impaired ability to recover from serious illness
To prevent the stress of workplace harassment and bullying from taking a toll on your health, maybe it’s time to take stock of your situation. Be realistic about it. Is it something you can change? If not, how can you deal with it? Your first consideration is you. You need to take care of yourself and protect your physical and mental health from ongoing workplace stress. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Valerie Cade, Founder
Bully Free at Work