ABOUT STRESS MANAGEMENT
Stress is in our day-to-day life, from simple things such as paying a bill to major stressors such as changing jobs, moving, or going through a divorce. The key to stress management is control – over your life, thoughts, emotions, and problems. Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control.
TO IDENTIFY SOURCES OF STRESS, LOOK CLOSELY AT YOUR HABITS, ATTITUDE, AND EXCUSES
- Do you explain away stress as temporary (“I just have a million things going on right now”) even though you can’t remember the last time you took a breather?
- Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life (“Things are always crazy around here”) or as a part of your personality (“I have a lot of nervous energy, that’s all”)?
- Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events, or view it as entirely normal and unexceptional?
The goal of effective stress management is to feel less under pressure and more in balanced. Healthy strategies include tracking when you feel stressed in a journal to help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Notice patterns, common themes, and write down what may have caused your stress how you felt physically and emotionally, how you acted in response, what you did to make yourself feel better. Exercise, time management, healthy diet, good sleep, and reducing caffeine and alcohol are also positive ways to manage stress. It is also important to remember the four A’s – Avoid, Alter, Adapt & Accept:
- Avoid unnecessary stress and learn how to address situations that do need attention. For example, how to say no, what to pare down from your schedule, and not being out with people who stress you out.
- Alter the situation if you can’t avoid it by expressing your feelings instead of bottling them up, being willing to compromise, and creating a balanced schedule.
- Adapt and change yourself if you can’t change the stressor by adjusting our expectations and attitude with reframing skills (looking at problems in a different way), looking at the bigger picture, adjusting your standards, and practicing gratitude.
- Accept the things you can’t change or avoid such as a death of a loved one, don’t try to control the uncontrollable, look for the upside, learn to forgive, and share your feelings.
A specific example is a stress in the workplace, which is not all controllable but is normal and we are not powerless to help ourselves. With the right tools, we can prevent excessive stress from interfering with your productivity and performance, impacting your physical and emotional health, and affecting your relationships and home life.
COMMON CAUSES OF WORKPLACE STRESS
- Fear of being laid off
- More overtime due to staff cutbacks
- Pressure to perform to meet rising expectations but with no increase in job satisfaction
- Pressure to work at the optimum level (all the time!)
- Lack of control over how you do your work
- Signs and symptoms of excessive workplace stress
- Feeling anxious, irritable, or depressed
- Apathy, loss of interest in work
- Problems sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Muscle tension or headaches
- Stomach problems
- Social withdrawal
- Loss of sex drive
- Using alcohol or drugs to cope
- Cultivate supportive relationships at work and beyond by turning to co-workers for support, lean on your friends and family members, and build new satisfying friendships.
- Make time for regular exercise.
- Make smart food choices.
- Don’t skimp on sleep.
- Improve time management by creating a balanced schedule, leaving earlier in the mornings, planning regular breaks, establishing healthy boundaries, and not over-committing.
- Include task management skills such as prioritizing tasks, breaking projects into small steps, delegating responsibility, and being willing to compromise.
- Break bad habits such as limiting perfectionism, flipping negative thinking, clearing up your act, looking for humor, and not trying to control the uncontrollable.
- Increase productivity by talking to your employer about workplace stressors, clarifying your job description, requesting a transfer, ask for new duties, and taking time off.