Stress is a body’s natural defense mechanism. The onset of stress floods the body with hormones that prepare us to respond to danger or other demands. Stress can also be a motivator; therefore, essential to survival. Each person responds to stress differently, but too much stress can lead to health problems.

Numerous polls and studies1 show that job-related factors are a major source of stress for American adults. It’s natural for work to cause some stress, but if you’re feeling frazzled daily, it’s important to step back, relax, refocus and re-energize.

So how do we calm our busy minds in the midst of our hectic workday?

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska educates its employees about self-care basics through a workplace wellness program. Our most recent challenge was Take 5: Calm your busy mind. This five-week challenge was designed to help reduce stress and increase positivity.

Each week, employees received weekly assignments to complete in five minutes or less to help boost mindfulness and shift focus to personal goals. Assignments centered on gratitude, goal setting and journaling in order to build a personalized mindfulness tool for use in the future.

It also included easy-to-complete tasks to help employees stay motivated and mindful throughout the program – from taking stretch breaks to drinking more water.

“Ultimately, it’s meant to encourage employees to take five minutes each day to stress less and focus on the positive things in life,” Kathy Nellor, wellness services manager, said. “Focusing on gratitude and positivity leads to an improved outlook on life which can generate happiness and contentment in employees’ personal and work lives.”

Some experts think that stress may cause 50% of all disease. Stress contributes to the first and second leading causes of death—heart disease and cancer. It’s also a factor in migraines, digestive problems, mental illness, chronic insomnia, fatigue, high blood pressure, asthma, allergies, ulcers, tooth decay, and the common cold.

We’re not talking about one incident. It is chronic stress— day in, day out—which can harm your immune system, making you more prone to accidents, illnesses and unhappiness.
Many of us have come to accept stress as normal. That doesn’t make it okay. Take a look at your stress levels, what causes your stress, and what you can do about it.

If your company is interested in establishing a workplace wellness program, contact

National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. Stress at Work.1