SOURCES OF STRESS MANAGEMENT IN THE WORKPLACE
Managers and Supervisors regard pressure as an inevitable part of their daily lives. Especially when decision making and guidance have to take place, a significant amount of stress may be experienced.
If Supervisors and Managers allow stress-tolerance levels to be exceeded, it would impair their own health and wellbeing. If the quality of the Managers' and Supervisors' lives are not as desired on account of excessive stress, it will also influence their daily lives outside the work situation.
WHAT IS STRESS?
Stress is perceived as an interaction of-
- Your response to the environmental demands that may lead to a variety of physical, emotional and behavioural changes;
- Environmental factors that, in your opinion, have an influence on your daily routine and affect your psychological and physical health;
- Personal characteristics, attitudes, convictions and values that play a major role in your experience of stress; and
- An imbalance between the demands perceived and your perception of your own capabilities to handle the demand.
Therefore, stress emanates from a certain type of relationship between you and your environment.
It is important to know the following:
- We do not all perceive the same situation the same way and what can be stressful to one person may not be so to the other
- A certain amount of stress is needed for your wellbeing. It is called eustress or positive stress. For example, the body's stress reaction mechanism stimulates enough energy and excitement so that top performance can be achieved for important tasks. This provides the pleasure added to life.
- Examples of positive stress are situations such as when a child learns to walk, a student before exams, we get excited and tense when our favourite team plays an excellent game, et cetera. Pleasant emotions bring about feelings of elation.
- The type of stress that is damaging is called distress or negative stress. An example of distress is your own serious illness or that of somebody close to you, your worries about money or your family, repressed feelings like intense anger, fear or frustration. This is stress that lasts too long and leads to exhaustion.
- Stress is therefore related to your perception that the demands of live or events at work, are threatening to you. It leads to feelings of anxiety, agitation, ineffective behaviour, et cetera.
- Whether a specific event will pose a threat to you and therefore cause you stress is determined by the extent to which the event has personal meaning for you and the extent to which your personal ideals, self-actualisation or values are affected. The more important the motive or value are, that are being threatened, the stronger the stress reaction will be.
- The sources of stress are unlimited. These demands are called stressors and can be caused by external factors (like the death of a loved one, divorce, work pressure, financial- or legal matters, crime or vandalism in your neighbourhood, etc). They may also be a result of your own internal attitudes and thoughts (for example academic aspirations, ideals, quest for success, et cetera).
Even if one does not experience chronic stress or does not maintain a stressful lifestyle, it does not mean that one does not experience stress from time to time and cannot still benefit from a programme for coping with stress. The learning of better stress-handling skills is not only for the busy executive Director who strives for success. Everyone can benefit from it.
A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO COPING WITH STRESS
Nobody has doubts about the negative effect that stress has on a person's health and quality of life in general. A life without stress, is however, not possible, but a person can learn to cope with stress more effectively and to reduce it substantially. Nobody ever has to be a victim of stress or his circumstances.
The effect of stress depends more on how we react to stress in our lives than on what causes it. Thus, what happens to us does not matter so much, but rather how we cope with stress. The learning of certain techniques to cope with personal and work stress is important.
Research indicates that stress is coped with more effectively if the "whole person", that is the psychological, physical, emotional and mental components of the person, is involved in a programme for coping with stress.
- Mental Wellbeing is described as the development of higher consciousness through growing relationships with yourself and others, the development of a strong value system and a meaningful purpose in life. Stress places stumbling blocks on the way to mental development. Mental strategies for coping with stress will involve: focussing on interpersonal- and communication skills, internal- and external relations, personal value system, a meaningful purpose in life and a social support system.
- Psychological Wellbeing is described as the ability to gather, process, remember and exchange information. Exposure to stress reduces the ability to remember, which is necessary to make good decisions. Psychological strategies for coping with stress may include identifying and challenging dysfunctional ideas, modification of behaviour and assertiveness, handling of destructive behaviour, effective problem-solving, time management and hobbies.
- Emotional Wellbeing is regarded as the ability to experience the full spectrum of human emotions and express them - and to control the emotions rather than let them control the person. Intense feelings of anger and fear, that is associated with stress, can thus lead to mental powerlessness and depression. Emotional strategies for coping with stress might involve setting free emotions, mediation, humour therapy, music therapy, art therapy, diary entries and poetry.
- Physical Wellbeing is described as the optimal functioning of the body's main physiological systems, for example, cardiovascular, digestive and reproductive functions. Stress can cause damage to the overall organic tissue and gradually to the main physiological systems as well. Typical physical strategies for coping with stress will contain: physical exercise, nutrition, diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, massage therapy, sleep and relaxation.
Wellness is a conscious and continuous integrative process, leading towards the enhancement of ourselves, the organization and the community's health and wellbeing. It is a dynamic, proactive process to become aware of life choices and the responsibility we have to make the right choices towards a quality life.
SOURCES OF WORK STRESS
The Stress Resilience Profile (SRP) is a self-scoring assessment designed to give clients new insights into ways they may be unintentionally raising their stress level and affecting their feelings of empowerment. It measures the mental habits that determine their level of “stress resiliency”. By understanding cognitive habits that create stress, clients can improve their ability to effectively interpret situations and manage stress. The SRP is an assessment tool that can add more insight to any training and development programme. It can be used in a structured setting or as a standalone personal development exercise to give individuals fresh insight into their feelings about their job and their performance. It can also be used to increase work effectiveness by understanding individual stress habits. It can be used in an EAP or health promotion programme.
For more information please contact the writer of this article.
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