White-Spunner Construction recently held a lunch and learn session on stress management at our office headquarters on Friday, February 6. The session was led by our Safety and Compliance Manager, Ross Moyer, and employees were invited to enjoy some barbeque while learning ways to avoid and cope with stress at the workplace. 
 
Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. While moderate levels of stress may actually improve performance and efficiency, too much stress can cause an unproductive anxiety level. On the other hand, too little stress can result in boredom. High levels of stress can cause physical effects such as weight gain or loss, unexpected hair loss, heart palpitations and high blood pressure. It can also affect us emotionally by causing mood swings and anxiety and could potentially lead to depression and/or unhealthy ways of coping with stress. 
 
Those in attendence at the lunch and learn were divided into two groups for a demonstration. Each group was asked to form a circle, and a small stress ball was given to one person in each group. The groups were asked to toss the ball around to each other in the circle without giving it to the same person twice until everyone had the ball once. They were then asked to keep tossing the ball around in the same pattern while another stress ball was added to the rotation every few minutes. With each new ball that was added, it became a little bit more difficult for the groups to remember the pattern and pay attention as the balls were being tossed around. 

The demonstration was a perfect example of how stress is created. Many of us have a routine we follow every day, similar to the pattern in which the balls were thrown. Now imagine each item on your daily to do list as another ball being added to the circle. As your list grows, it becomes harder and harder to juggle everything at once and eventually it becomes too much for one person to handle. 

Following the demonstration, Ross went over a few strategies that have been proven to reduce stress including body relaxation such as breathing techniques and guided imagery, physical exercise such as yoga and other workout routines, meditation and counseling. Effectively managing stress can yield several benefits including improved physical health, increased energy, stabilized emotions, a more positive attitude, happier moods, improved focus and ability to learn and achieve. Some other helpful tips for managing stress include changing perceptions and expectations, breaking tasks into manageable parts, setting reasonable and realistic goals, avoiding procrastination, setting boundaries, refusing to compromise values, and scheduling some personal time for yourself to relax. 

This was a very fun and imformative lunch and learn for our employees, and we plan to have several more sessions like this throughout the year. Our goal at WSC is to provide our employees with plenty of opportunities to learn more about safety, health and wellness and to remain knowledgable and up to date on topics, techniques, trends and changes within our industry.