The new age of stress at work

You know your job is stressful, and you know in the long run, that’s not good for your health.
But you don’t know what to do about it, or how to change the stressful elements. Maybe you should quit altogether, but how do you know if that’s too drastic a response? After all, jobs are hard to come by these days.
The hardiest personalities for dealing with stressful situations are those that perceive change as a challenge and an opportunity for growth. .

Personality acts as a filter and determines how we perceive situations, which impacts how we respond.
Personalities are deeply ingrained and not easily changed, but people can take steps to change their attitude.

Changing attitudes requires “massaging the brain” and is one way we can cope with stress. An employee can say things like, “This is only temporary; it will be over in three weeks” or “It could be a lot worse.” A positive attitude goes a long way in the short run to alter how we perceive a stressful situation.

The direct approach

But changing attitude is only one coping strategy, and dealing effectively with stress requires a variety of coping strategies.

Sometimes, coping requires directly addressing the situation with your superiors.

Let’s say the problem is with your boss – you can talk to your boss and try to change it. There are solutions: If an employee lacks the skills for the task, perhaps that employee can be sent to continuing education to gain the necessary skills. If the problem is too much work, delegating work is another coping strategy, as is setting priorities.

Sometimes the solution is to work more overtime in a given week or so – devoting more time and energy might actually reduce the stress involved.

Other coping strategies aim to minimize our responses to stress rather than directly change the stressful situation itself – getting extra sleep, getting regular exercise, having a drink, having some low-fat ice cream or other favorite food, talking to a co-worker or friend, or treating yourself to a massage or a movie. Obviously, any of these – even exercise – can be carried to an extreme.

“I see nothing wrong with having a glass of wine, but if it leads to two the next night and three the night after that, then it’s a problem,” a researcher says. “People like to be judgmental about coping strategies, but it’s not whether it is a good or bad strategy; rather, it’s about having a wide array of coping strategies and not using any one of these to an extreme.” The words “no” or “later” are not dirty words; avoidance is sometimes a necessary and effective strategy.

Exercise, and a life

One advantage of exercise is that when a person is mentally fatigued from a long day, they still might not be physically tired and thus have trouble sleeping, which only makes the next day all the more stressful. Exercise allows them to feel less mentally fatigued but more physically tired, which is conducive to a good night’s sleep.

Which brings up another factor in the stress process. The researcher states, “It is important to know that events in your ‘other lives’ – as spouse, parent, caregiver, bowler, pet owner…etc., impact what you perceive as stressful at work.”

The researcher believes awareness is the key to coping with stress. “Some people are clueless,”, “They say, ‘Stress? What stress?’ Yet it’s written all over their EKG, while they talk on their cell phone, type away on their laptop, sitting in their hospital bed.” Some people need to enter therapy to recognize the source of their stress. Employers may offer employee assistance programs, where a person can seek help in coping with stress. Other companies may offer health and wellness programs. Take advantage of these programs!

Awareness allows you to identify the stressor and to develop strategies that can change your attitude, change how you respond, and sometimes change the stressful situation itself. And if the situation can’t be changed?

“There are times when it is time to move on,” according to the researcher. You can be the queen or king of coping but there may simply be a poor fit between you and your workplace. Different people have different ideas of what is a good fit in the workplace. The researcher adds, “You have to weigh out the pros and cons – I may be dealing with the same stressor I’ve dealt with from day one, but for me the pros outweigh the cons, whereas they may not for someone else.”

Stress management is really about prevention – identifying and preventing stress before it leads to the point where employees burn out. After all, a trained employee is a valuable commodity. “Burnout results from chronic work-related stress and is much easier to prevent than to treat,” the researcher says.

Take control

To reduce stress, try taking control of what you can control. Focus on the aspects of your job and your life that make you feel successful. Then make some changes in your workplace that can reduce your stress and increase your productivity. For instance, try closing the door to your office when you need to concentrate or asking a coworker for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Courtesy: The News

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