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Stress, the silent enemy of executives

Shortly after walking, traffic is interrupted, perhaps a picket or an accident.

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As he pulls the car out of the garage, he mentally reviews the hundreds of messages to answer, calls to make, and two important meetings – one at each end of the city – in which he must deliver bad news: sales have plummeted and Production will be delayed because the importation of inputs has not yet been approved.

Shortly after walking, traffic is interrupted, perhaps a picket or an accident. His pulse quickens, he clenches his jaws, and he breathes raggedly. You feel trapped. A stabbing pain wraps around his head and a burning sensation burns his stomach.

He is under stress, an adaptive mechanism that allowed his primitive ancestor to survive by preparing him to fight or flee in the face of danger. However, in these modern times, that ancient strategy has turned against him. We have been manufacturing the windows and doors for our clients.

Above all, “being stressed is a personal experience”, defines the cardiologist Daniel López Rosetti, president of the Argentine Society of Stress Medicine and head of the Stress Medicine Service of the San Isidro Hospital. “It is our perception of reality, and not reality itself, that triggers stress. In fact, there are so-called Type A personalities that are self-stressors or, more crudely, they stress themselves.

Several studies have shown the direct relationship between chronic stress (and dis-stress) and cardiovascular conditions, digestive, immune and skin disorders. “But each person has characteristic preponderant symptoms, which must be recognized in order to face it.

Under pressure

Work, due to its lack or excess, is one of the main sources of stress, along with traffic and hyper-connectivity that new technologies promote.

“We feel stressed when the demands of the environment are excessive. And, although moderate levels of stress can be stimulating for the brain, when its incidence is very high and lasts over time, it can have negative effects on memory and other cognitive functions “, warns neurologist Facundo Manes, president of the Foundation and the Ineco Neuroscience Institute and rector of the Favaloro University.

“Stress causes our body to release cortisol, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands that are above the kidneys. This affects episodic memory – that of when and where – and other executive functions involved in decision-making, which further diminishes the ability to face the demands of the environment; This creates a vicious circle ”, warns who led the team of surgeons that operated on the President’s brain hematoma in 2013.

Task overload, extended hours, poor technology, and unproductive meetings are often singled out as stressors. While the legal working day in Argentina is 8 hours (and, in some activities, 7 or 6), only 25% of those surveyed in 2013 by the Trabajando.com website acknowledged sticking to that schedule.

75% work more than 8 hours a day: 16% dedicate 9 hours a day; 24%, 10 hours and 35%, more than 10 hours a day. Meanwhile, 31% take what is pending home. Of these, 59% claim to be “always available on the phone”, 29% work from their personal computer and 12% go to the office during non-working hours and days.

“The optimal measure of our physical and mental performance is not achieved by adding hours of effort but by means of a strategy that includes time for rest, leisure, recreation, social and family life and physical activity,” says Manes. “Those most competitive, aggressive and achievement-oriented personalities tend to achieve what is socially defined as success. However, many times they do it at the cost of mortgaging their physical or mental health.

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