How is stress impacting your population?

Man in button down shirt pinches bridge of nose with stressed expression, glasses pushed up to his mid-forehead

Stress impacts both body and mind

Did you know April is Stress Awareness Month? Stress comes in all shapes and sizes, with different motivations and situations. Many people associate it with negative emotions, burdens, or external forces weighing someone down.

You might think addressing stress for your people is as easy as an extra day off, or you might be tempted to dismiss it as “just a part of life.” Stress is indeed a part of life, but long-term and unresolved stress can have severe consequences.

Stress doesn’t just wear down on people’s mental state. It can also take a physical toll. Prolonged or chronic stress starts to cause physical and mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, trouble sleeping, and weight gain.

For many organizations, this can mean less satisfied and less productive people, with higher healthcare costs and worse outcomes. Thankfully, there are virtual care solutions that can address these challenges to reduce healthcare costs and get better results for your population. First, it’s important to understand the risk that stress poses to people and why offering a solution is a critical piece of population health.

Stress is physically weighing your people down

Stress might start with mental health, but before too long it will affect a person’s physical health too. Chronic stress — which occurs over an extended period of time — influences executive function and self-regulation. In turn, this can cause a person to develop poor eating and workout habits, leading down an unhealthy path of either weight loss or weight gain.

Stress affects more than just lifestyle choices, though. It can change the physiological makeup of a person, and trigger hormones that increase the chances of weight gain. Cortisol, one of these hormones, makes people crave sugary and fatty foods as a survival mechanism. But with decreased motivation to exercise, a stressed person now faces even bigger problems.

Weight gain and obesity have big implications for someone’s health. Adding prolonged stress can also lead to physical conditions like hypertension or cardiovascular disease. The risk only increases for middle-aged and older populations.

The danger of long-term stress isn’t just on the mind, but also the body. While considering Stress Awareness Month, think of the complex impact stress has for a population’s overall health. Compounding conditions can become complicated — and expensive — to address.

Ignoring stress isn’t worth the price

Unresolved stress costs health and resources

As stress erodes a person’s health, it also increases their cost of care. Physical and mental health conditions are already more likely to co-occur with one another. Because stress negatively impacts chronic conditions, it increases healthcare costs for an already high-need demographic.

Working to resolve stress and its effects in your population is worth the investment, both in saving on healthcare costs and in maximizing an employee’s value. Stressed employees and members are less able to reach their full potential.

Happier and healthier populations are more productive

Many things can cause a person to feel stressed out. Whatever the cause, both job-related and personal stress still affect a person’s work performance.

Stressed employees are self-reportedly less productive than they would be otherwise. When employees are engaged and satisfied at work, studies also show a 14% increase in productivity and an 81% difference in absenteeism.

Your population’s well-being is worth the time and investment. Individual stress can have a butterfly effect on company profits and lost productivity. Job performance and productivity can both be negatively impacted by increased stress. Reducing stress for populations can increase productivity and reduce turnover.

Overall, addressing stress can reduce costs, making the investment worth the price.

So what can leaders do to reduce stress in their populations? Stress Awareness Month is a great time to step back and consider how you can make a difference. As stress often ebbs and flows for people as their circumstances change, it might be hard for them to handle it alone. When it comes to chronic stress, they might need some extra help to get relief.

Address stress in your population

Co-occurring conditions need to be treated together

Stress causes enough complications on its own, but its effect on chronic conditions raises the stakes. It’s important to treat the body and mind together for the best results. When treating them in isolation, people see less impactful outcomes than if they are treated in tandem.

It’s not just physical challenges that affect the body, or mental health that only affects the brain. Instead, mental health challenges often come along with chronic physical conditions, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. Anxiety, hypertension, and depression are just a few more common co-occurring conditions to consider.

Woman holds smart phone open to Vida app, with mental and physical health programs listed

Find a solution for mental and physical health with Vida

Treating these conditions together in a comprehensive care plan is the key. Virtual mental health interventions, like those Vida offers, have proven results in helping alleviate both the physical and mental tolls of stress.

Stress can impact physical well-being, mental health, and increase the severity of chronic conditions. It can impact job performance and satisfaction, and alter your population’s long-term health. In turn, it can increase the cost of care for your members — all the more reason to ease the long-term effects of stress for your people as much as possible.

To fight stress in daily life, people need to build resilience. That’s why Vida offers a stress reduction pathway with coaching to help adjust cognitive behavior, create healthy practices, and build emotional resilience. In just 10 weeks, populations using Vida have shown reduced stress through mindfulness-based coaching and practices.

Investing in the health and happiness of your population can have a great return on investment, too. Eliminating chronic stress can mean increased productivity and less turnover, two big costs for many organizations.

While reflecting on Stress Awareness Month, it’s important to note how much it affects your people — and how to make a change. Partner with a solution that addresses body and mind through dynamic pathways and accredited care teams. Whether it’s stress, depression, obesity, type 2 diabetes, or anything in between, Vida has a plan to make a positive impact with your population.

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