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Stress And Stress Management

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Stress is a physiological and emotional response to stimuli that place physical or psychological demands on an individual and create uncertainty and lack of personal control when important outcomes are at stake. Every person in this world deals with stress that can be caused by an assortment of circumstances. There are many different ways of dealing with stress; there is no one way around this epidemic. No matter how organized you are, as a productive member in the workforce you will likely experience stress. Stress does not have to be negative. Without a certain amount of it, you can fall complacent and not be competitively productive in the workplace or in your own personal life. Stress can come from work and it also can come from home. Stress is not the killer; it is how you react to it that can lead to serious illnesses. The stimuli, which are called stressors, produce a certain amount frustration. It can be the inability to achieve a goal, meeting deadlines, fear of reprimand, which is a form of anxiety.

The stressors are what triggers stress. Managers play a big role when it comes to stress in the workplace. There are actions managers can take to cause stress and there are also steps to minimize it in the workplace. The number of people in the United States who reported that work is a major source of stress soared to 69 percent in 2009. Canadian survey’s has shown that work is the top source of stress for people. One of the ways stress can be caused in the workplace is by managers imposing unreasonable demands and overwhelming workloads along with employees not knowing what is expected of them. I have had some good managers and supervisors and I have had not so good ones. The good ones are the type of managers that always go above and beyond their duties. Can you imagine yourself going into the office everyday knowing there will be a ton of work to do and knowing you are not going to finish it all? Wouldn’t that cause stress?

Managers have to realize when too much is just literally too much. The workplace is comprised of human resources and as humans, just like machines we have limits, going over the limit of what our body can handle time and time again can cause stress on the body just like it would cause stress on a machine counterpart. Once the stress reaches a certain point and when the workload has gone on for some time, something will have to give. This limit can vary from person to person. This is where a person might start having physical symptoms such as (headaches, depression, anxiety, easily angered, etc). These unclear and over-whelming tasks do in turn cause stress because of what’s called role ambiguity; this means that people are not sure about what task behaviors are expected of them. Failing as a manager to give their employees credit for their contributions in the workplace and their individual achievements can be frustrating in a way that can cause the employee to think their work is not good enough and this causing unnecessary stress levels to rise.

Managers of course play a huge role in how much stress they put on their employees but sometimes some jobs are just stressful to being with. You will experience different stress levels for instance, if you were a nurse working in the ER rather than working anywhere else in the hospital. Stress can be caused by anything that you don’t have total control over at that particular point in time. Stress doesn’t have to come from the workplace; it can easily come from home and personal issues such as break-ups, deaths in the family, and unexpected pregnancy of a spouse. The ways we cope with stress is what defines as individuals. You will first have to realize that stress is a part of a life’s everyday constant battle. There are ways to reduce stress before it overcomes us. We can either sink or swim. Since there is no way around stress we will have to learn how to accept and manage it. The key is to identify which strategy works best for you. Taking deep abdominal breaths and reexamining the situation can let you see the picture from a different angle.

There are many different ways in coping with stress. One way that I have found out that will reduce my stress at times when I have a lot of work in front of me is to simply prioritize. Also, setting goals and planning ahead has helped myself tremendously. This of course is easier said than done. I find myself over and over again leaving things for the last minute. Some people actually produce better work when it is crunch time, this causing that “sink of swim” aspect to surface. Procrastination will cause stress if you leave everything for when it is almost due. Time management is key to a stress free life, stretching yourself out too thin can be hard to stay focused. If you manage your time wisely and plan ahead can reduce the amount of stress you will acquire. Not keeping things bottled up in side and expressing your feelings either to a co-worker, friend or family member can be a way to ele

vate stress. We cannot keep what is bothering us inside for too long because there will be a time where we will reach a breaking point and that is what we should avoid at all costs. Allowing yourself to express your feelings towards your boss or loved ones will not only clear your mind so you can be more productive but also elevate any stress that it came with. Staying active after work can help you burn some calories and also cause stress to escape all while maintaining a healthy body and mind. Know your limits on how many tasks you can take on at one time. Always being a “yes man” is a surefire way on adding stress. Eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and exercising can greatly diminish your stress levels. Doing things you enjoy can take your mind off of the stressful things and restart your mind so you can tackle them on a later date.

Like the saying goes “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, learn from your mistakes if procrastinating is what is causing you to be stressed out all the time than reflect on your actions and move on from there. You may notice symptoms of stress while doing the most maintained tasks. You may notice it when you’re for example, disciplining your kids or when someone asks you a simple question. You may snap at them for the slightest thing. It is not their fault you are stressed out, we should not take things out on other people especially on our loved-ones like our kids or spouses. When you start feeling this way, take a step back and look at the big picture. Being stressed out can be hard to self diagnose, to know when we’re feeling stressed can be hard at times for some of us, some of us won’t know it until we reach the breaking point and that’s when things really start going south.

Aggressive personality’s that are known as “ type A “ directly cause cardiovascular disease and will greatly increase the risk of high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a direct effect of stress. This can be managed however, if not treated can lead to more serious illnesses. There are some different kinds of stress. Challenge stress and threat stress are two different kinds. Challenge stress is the good stress that keeps you competitive and on top of your game. Threat stress is what can cause you to feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Acute stress is the most common form of stress. It directly comes from pressures and demands of life. It is highly treatable and easy to manage. Episodic stress can be found in those “Type A” personalities; it is those people who take on to much on at one time. They are always rushing to get somewhere but always seem to be late. They do not plan ahead well and thus stay stressed out for longer period of time.

It is common for people with this personality to be constantly stressed out, have high levels of anxiety and more prone to chronic heart disease. “Type B” personalities are the opposite and are far less likely to develop these problems. The symptoms of episodic acute stress are persistent tension headaches, migraines, hypertension, and chest pain. Treating episodic acute stress will require help in the professional level and may take months to ultimately cure. While acute stress can be what keeps you at the top of your game, chronic stress is the complete opposite. This type of stress is not beneficial and if not treated can lead someone’s life in a downward spiral. Chronic stress will destroy someone’s body and mind. Chronic stress can be the aftermath of some traumatic experience earlier in life and can lead people to even commit suicide because they do not see an end in site.

This type of stress, which is most severe, is the hardest to treat. It is treated by extensive medical treatment. A serve form of chronic stress can be found in the mental disorder of PTSD, which stands for posttraumatic stress disorder. It is commonly found in war veterans but also can be found in rape victims, persons that had a serious injury and or any traumatic event that has occurred in which that person did not get over mentally. Having too much stress in our lives can lead to adverse effects. There have been studies that have found health problems related to stress. Studies have shown that stress can worsen even asthma. Some evidence suggest that a parent’s chronic stress might even lead to the risk of developing asthma in their children. According to Dr. Chang of WebMD, stress can also lead to obesity. Stress causes higher levels of hormone cortisol.

That might increase the amount of fat held in the adnominal region. One study on animals has shown to cause Alzheimer’s disease to develop more quickly. It can lead to accelerated aging that can ultimately lead to a premature death. Researchers believe by reducing stress it has the potential to slow down the development of this disease. Work related stress is on the rise in the last 5-7 years, primarily due to the shaky economic times that our country is currently in. Work related stress is the 2nd most common compensated illness/injury in the country of Australia. Work related stress could be caused by numerous events that happen in the workplace. Your boss might be giving you too much of a workload or you are worried about your own job security, with unemployment rate flirting around 8% country-wide there is no doubt that this can create tension.

Major companies are trying to downsize in order to save money, having this in the back of your mind as an employee can cause various ranges of stress. Different jobs will place different amounts of stress on a human body. For instance according to Peter L. Schnall, MD, an occupational stress expert at the University of California at Irvine sates that if you are working a job were the workload is high but your control on what type of work it is you are actually doing is known as “ high-demand, low-control” tends to cause a great deal of psychological strain. Getting more involved in the decision making of your work can cause stress levels to go down. Individuals will work their tail off day in and day out and not get any positive feedback from their employers, this type of work environment can cause stress to those individuals that strive for reassurance from their bosses. In today’s times where we have our smartphones and email so readily available to us we find ourselves working 24 hours a day.

We have to learn how to really disconnect ourselves when we leave the office by setting times on where we turn these electronics off will eventually elevate the kind of stress that comes from the workplace and it will help recharge our batteries when we return to work the next day. Paul English, co-founder and chief technology officer of Kayak.com which is an travel search engine, has said he some times takes his children on business trips and at night when he is at home, he will read books that interest him like murder mysteries and global health instead of reading books about business. What he is doing is disconnecting himself from workplace; this can prove to be extremely beneficial to one’s actual work performance. Working for a prolonged time in a stressful job can lead to a term tossed around lightly in today’s culture called “burned out”, this can lead to a poor job performance and high levels of stress than can impact your entire life.

Going through work with all these issues can lead to a meltdown, sitting down with your supervisor or manager and laying things out on the table can lead to a sensation of weight being lifted off your shoulders. This will cause work related stress to diminish and you’ll be on the road to a stress-free life in and out of the workplace. A recent study found that the most beneficial stress management strategy is to avoid it completely. We must take on ourselves to find out what gives us stress and than find ways to eliminate or reduce them dramatically. We have to find a job that has meaning to us, working a job that we don’t enjoy will add stress without us even knowing. Stress can come in and out of our lives at various times and with various degrees. We all have to know how to manage it.

There will be obstacles that will create stress that we cannot avoid. Using techniques such as meditation, exercise and talking out your problems to your loved ones can ease the stress away. Managing your stress weather it is at home with the kids or at work with boss will be beneficial for your overall health. I remember when I first got stationed here in Bahrain it was a very stressful time in my life knowing I was going to be apart from my girlfriend and all my loved ones back at home. I had no choice but to suck it up and keep my eyes on the road ahead. I will look forward to the 1st and the 15th of every month to see my bank account increase in numbers. I tried to sleep and exercise as much as I could to keep my mind off things and to pass the time.

I also heavily relied on my girlfriend to keep me sane. There were times where I felt depressed and I couldn’t see any way out, work was starting to get to me and I was not heading in a good direction. I was feeling stressed because I just didn’t want to be here. I started taking it day-by-day and now I only face 4 months a head of me. I couldn’t have done it with out goal setting and time management. I know I will encounter new stress as my transition into the civilian world begins early of next year. Not all stress is bad for you, I will just have to figure out how to manage it and keep it in check.


R.L, Daft- New Era of Management

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