In early times when Neanderthals lived in the wild, as some do in the office today, everybody had a health and fitness exercise program. It’s called hunting, and if they didn’t do it they’ll be on a lose weight fast diet from which they’ll never recover. Nobody had a problem with work stress then, because all the stress they got was due to surviving each day. Come to think of it, times haven’t changed much.

The type of stress that early man experienced was of the high intensity kind you find in a life and death situation. Not as intense as a divorce proceeding, but close enough. Unknown to early man, the sheer physicality of everyday life gave him a daily dose of endorphins, which is the body’s natural way to relieve stress. If you’re lucky enough to be chased by a lion for 50 yards, you’ll feel the same thing. Today we call it exercise.

Modern man has long known that exercise reduces stress, but what has that got to do with getting chewed on by the boss every other day? Or, slashing your product’s price by 50% and still can’t get any takers? But you know what… you’re right. Exercise can’t do anything for you there. What it does is reduce your stress levels. Then you’ll feel better. Then you’ll be in a good position to create a solution to your problems at work. Then you get a raise, or leap over your sales targets. Neat, huh?

Stress in the workplace isn’t always proportional to the number of times you’ve missed out on a promotion. It has to do with our unique response to each situation. For one guy, not getting a raise is no big deal as long as that other guy doesn’t get it either. If that happens, all hell breaks loose.

Things happen when you’re put in a stressful situation. You pump out adrenaline, your heart beats faster, your blood pressure rises, you get flustered, you curse under your breath because the girl of your dreams is asking you out and all you could do is stand there like a statue with a stupid grin on your face.

You release the stress hormone cortisol, and sugar and fat are pumped in your bloodstream as added fuel for your muscles. You’re in a heightened state of alertness, ready to fight or run. Unfortunately, neither response is acceptable in this situation. Think how long your stress will stay with you if you let her go.

This type of stress plays havoc with your hormone system. It affects everything – appetite, memory, mood, and fear, but mostly mood. If you don’t burn energy with a physical response, it leaves nasty things behind like that fat in your bloodstream that turns to plaque in the arteries. That’s bad. Plaque in the arteries causes hypertension which can lead to stroke. Ugh.