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  • Writer's pictureRenata Bernarde

Stress Keeps You Unemployed

Episode 244 - The Physical and Mental Toll of Corporate Stress with Dr Randy Brazie MD and Dr Geoffrey VanderPal DBA




Corporate stress is a pervasive issue in today's work environment, significantly impacting the physical and mental well-being of employees. Recent data highlights the severity of this problem, revealing alarming statistics that underscore the urgent need for effective stress management strategies in the workplace.


According to the American Psychological Association (APA), work-related stress is responsible for approximately 120,000 deaths annually in the United States. Additionally, businesses lose up to $300 billion each year due to decreased productivity and increased healthcare costs associated with stress. A staggering 91% of U.S. workers report that unmanageable workplace stress negatively affects the quality of their work, and 63% are willing to quit their jobs to reduce stress. Furthermore, 76% of workers say that stress from work adversely impacts their personal relationships, highlighting the far-reaching consequences of this issue (Spill | Employee mental health support) (SelectSoftware Reviews).


In this episode we discuss the complexities of corporate stress with Dr Randy Brazie, a board-certified psychiatrist, and Dr Geoffrey VanderPal, a seasoned business professor. Randy and Geoffrey's partnership began over a casual dinner conversation about three years ago. Geoffrey's curiosity about psychology and Randy's expertise in somatic experiencing led to an enlightening discussion on integrating these concepts into business leadership. This sparked the idea for their book, "The Steadfast Leader," which delves into applying psychological principles to enhance business decision-making and leadership.


Understanding and Managing Corporate Stress


Randy highlighted that a significant portion of his practice involves stressed-out white-collar workers. The traditional cognitive models of psychiatry focus on the thinking brain, often overlooking the nonverbal part of the brain, which plays a crucial role in stress and anxiety. This nonverbal brain, closer to the brainstem or "reptilian brain," does not understand language or context, leading to roadblocks in managing anxiety through thought alone. The "reptilian brain," which refers to the brainstem and basal ganglia responsible for our instinctual survival behaviors, triggers immediate fight, flight, or freeze responses during stressful situations, such as job interviews, making it challenging to manage anxiety through thought alone.


Randy also highlights the severe health impacts of chronic stress, which can lead to heart disease, stroke, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. Chronic stress increases heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels, and causes inflammation in the body, all of which contribute to these serious health conditions.


Over the course of our interview, they provide invaluable insights into understanding and managing stress effectively. Here are some of the several practical techniques for managing stress shared by Randy and Geoffrey:

Orienting: This involves looking around your environment to signal safety to your brain. By consciously observing your surroundings, you help your brain recognize that there is no immediate threat, which can reduce anxiety and ground you in the present moment.

Body Scanning: This mindfulness technique involves focusing on different parts of your body, noticing sensations, and releasing tension. It brings awareness to physical stress responses and encourages relaxation, making it easier to manage stress during high-pressure situations.

Mindful Breathing: Paying attention to your breath can help calm the nervous system. By focusing on slow, deep breaths, you can lower your heart rate and reduce the production of stress hormones, leading to a more relaxed state of mind.


The Younger Generation's Pushback


Geoffrey and Randy also discuss the changing work culture, particularly how Gen Z and Millennials prioritize work-life balance and healthier work environments. Unlike previous generations, these younger workers push back against long hours and high stress, advocating for flexibility and mental health support in the workplace. This shift is essential for preventing the chronic stress that plagued older generations and is helping to create more sustainable and supportive work cultures (Headspace for Organizations) (SelectSoftware Reviews).


Supporting Employees


To mitigate the impacts of corporate stress, companies should invest in comprehensive wellness programs that address both physical and mental health. These programs can include flexible working hours, work-from-home policies, counseling services, and initiatives to foster a positive work environment. Research shows that effective stress management programs can lower sickness costs by 20% and improve overall employee well-being and productivity.


Addressing corporate stress requires a multifaceted approach that includes understanding the underlying neurological mechanisms, implementing practical stress management techniques, and fostering a supportive work culture. By taking these steps, both employees and employers can work towards a healthier, more productive future.


About Our Guests, Randy Brazie and Geoffrey VanderPal


Dr Randy Brazie is a board certified psychiatrist who currently works for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona as a medical director, as well as runs a small private practice. He is active in teaching as an adjunct faculty with Purdue Global and University of Texas at Tyler. He is an expert in anxiety and trauma and is a trained Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (developed by Peter Levine PhD and taught worldwide).

 

Dr Geoffrey VanderPal is a skilled business professor and entrepreneur who teaches globally for various business programs and has an extensive background in finance, project management and HR (certified with PMI and SHRM, as well as a CFP).

Both Randy and Geoffrey are co-authors of The Steadfast Leader and co-founders of NeuroConsulting Group LLC


About the Host, Renata Bernarde

Timestamps to Guide your Listening

Transcript of this Episode


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