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May 16, 2012

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SHE 12 – Boxing your way to a stress-free life

“Dealing with stress is a skill we can all learn and get better at,” visitors to the Occupational Health Theatre heard today (16 May).

Former thai-boxing champion Phil Ireland, of Combat Corporate Stress, gave an entertaining talk on how practitioners can make some simple changes to their working regimes and personal lives to help them manage stress levels.

After a brief demo of thai boxing with another ex-champion, demonstrating the health effects of a quick workout, Phil explained that stress is simply a natural response that the body goes through. He added that stress can sneak up on you, that it can come from many aspects of your life, that it is a cumulative problem, and that our ability to deal with it is finite.

Outlining some of the costs of failing to manage stress,  Phil separated these out as: financial – including absenteeism, staff turnover and mistakes; efficiency – including presenteeism and working days lost from failing to work at full capacity; and reputational – focusing on the potential for suicides, staff breakdowns and customer perceptions.

He also highlighted the personal cost to individuals of illnesses, explaining: “Although stress doesn’t cause illness, it makes just about every illness worse.” He mentioned that stress can cause body fat to move around the body, suppress the immune system, and leave individuals prone to developing health conditions, such as diabetes.

He then moved on to describe a five-step change model to dealing with stress, which shifts from denial, and a belief that stress is a problem that affects other people, to the preparation stage, where individuals try to find a solution to their condition, and then act on their findings.

But he also warned of the importance of the final stage, maintenance, which must be reached to stop individuals slipping back into old habits.

Phil closed his session by describing some of the solutions to stress. Knowledge, he pointed out, is crucial, as understanding a situation is key to finding a solution.

Taking delegates back to the opening kick-boxing demonstration, Phil championed the benefits of physical exercise, underlining how it can rebalance the body and help individuals be more alert and productive as a result. Just a 20-minute workout session should be enough to help get the body and mind back in harmony, he explained.

The importance of good nutrition and drinking water was also emphasised, with Phil noting the resulting benefits of improved concentration and a strong immune system. He also urged the audience to understand the different food groups and their actions, so that if you’re feeling tired, you consume some carbohydrates to counter the effects.

And, as a final point, Phil highlighted the importance of muscle stretching, especially for office workers and those who drive for long hours.

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.

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12 years ago

So true! I took up kickboxing 6 years ago and have always trained 3 times a week I now also teach it twice a week. It made a huge difference in my life, I was mega stressed and was quite a stressy person I suppose, but ever since doing regular physical exercise – in this case kickboxing – I have become much more relaxed calmer and tolerent. In addition I went from near 14 stone to 12 and still maintain that weight. It also helped me to think about nutrition and what I eat. Good all round then