Stress Management in the Time of a Labor Shortage

July 5, 2022


The extreme labor shortage affecting many industries across the country isn’t just an upper management problem but an issue at all levels. Stress management is a necessary but underutilized practice. Many dedicated employees work on the front lines, carrying heavier workloads and working longer hours. They are staring down double overtime with little to no additional compensation and may have a reduction in benefits. 

These conditions lead to high stress and anxiety levels for many overtaxed employees. It affects their physical and mental health and, in some instances, their quality of life. As a result, it’s an issue that employers will need to address sooner than later. And many organizations are responding by implementing in-house wellness programs to help employees manage these difficult times. 

How To Manage Stress

Stress is the body’s response to a challenge or demand. Triggers happen by different things, and experience stresses differently. The stress response includes physical components, like an elevated heart rate and high blood pressure, sweating, digestive issues, sleep disturbances, and more. It also consists of a moving part that is reactive to the stressor— like fear, anger, loneliness, or depression. 

While stress isn’t always bad, long-standing exposure to it can have negative consequences. Studies show a link between stress and decreased immune function, meaning people are at increased risk of becoming ill and will take longer to recover from illnesses. How to manage stress? 

1: Diet

Stress hormones take a toll on the body over time. A healthy diet, full of certain foods, can help counter the impact of stress. The right foods can manage cortisol levels, strengthen your immune system, and lower blood pressure. Try to include complex carbs that are slow to digest for serotonin release and blood sugar stabilized. Examples include whole-grain bread, pasta, and cereals. Add leafy greens for a magnesium boost from stress. Things like almonds and walnuts, fatty fish, and avocados. Avoid added sugars, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners as much as possible for optimal dietary health. 

2: Exercise

Science proves that exercise is a powerful stress reliever. Aerobic exercise releases endorphins. These natural neurotransmitters help you feel good and maintain a positive attitude. Regular exercise also promotes better sleep, which results from stress. 

3: Practice Self-Care

Relaxing daily is an effective tool to manage stress and protect the body and mind from its effects. The great thing about self-care is the many opportunities to practice it. It can be simple as engaging in diaphragmatic breathing exercises or meditation throughout your day. Or something more involved, like an art class or learning to play a musical instrument. Whatever you choose to do to help you relax, commit to doing it regularly. 

Managing Stress  

Stress management is an integral part of prioritizing your health and wellness. Set realistic goals and expectations for yourself. Managing stress in a short-staffed workplace is challenging. Be mindful of your triggers and focus on the things you can control. Maintaining clear lines of communication with your manager or team leaders is critical when you get overwhelmed. 

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