1. Workplace Stress- Introduction
Workplace stress, also known as Occupational Stress is the stress that one gets from working at his job. Chief causes are unrealistic short-terms goals, unexpected responsibility-sharing, and high expectations. While the job itself might not be stress-inducing, the way it is done and the working environment are crucial factors in creating stress.
This tutorial explains the influence of positive and negative stress on all our lives. The simple trick is to maximize positive stress and reduce negative stress. This tutorial provides three different options for tackling any stressful situation, along with a toolbox of personal skills routines, relaxation techniques, and stress log system.
This tutorial is designed for employees who have trouble focusing on their jobs or managing their time because of the stress they get from juggling multiple assignments, while working on a tough job.
Before proceeding with this tutorial, you are expected to know the common causes of stress in your personal life and how you want to deal with them. workplace stress is also related to pressure from seniors and peers and in the absence of support from colleagues. In the US, an overwhelming number of people identify having no control or say in their workplace as the biggest cause of stress in their lives. When workplace stress is not controlled and properly channelized, it can create a lot of coping issues and unreliability.
▪ Stress is different for different people
Stress is different for different people, so it is important to address stress differently. For example, you are too busy to schedule one hour for exercise, so simple try taking stairs to your office instead of lift, if your office is near to your house try walking. Instead of treating things like they are adding more too your stressful life try replacing it with things that soothes you.
It is good to solve your problems on your own, but there are cases when you might need a hand or two to help you get over the stressful events. It is always recommended to get help from third party to whom you can look up to share your problems and get some help.
▪ Defining Workplace Stress
Generally, we think that stress is related to something negative, but we don’t have to look at it that way. Some stress is helpful, actually to drive people towards job completion. As you may observe, stress in itself can be used for positive purposes. This type of stress is known as Eustress. In simple words, Eustress is the stress that leaves a positive effect, or is motivating in nature. It results in a positive outcome. Such stresses help people in getting good performance.
You can relate to this type of stress if you are familiar with the following scenarios-
• Running and winning a close race.
• Riding a big roller coaster ride.
• Watching a scary movie
All these situations cause physical, emotional and mental strain, but these pressure scenarios release positive emotions and makes us happy. This is a form of stress too. So, stress is not always negative; we have positive stress too which makes our life dynamic, unlike the lives that people without any tension or stress live-dull, monotonous, and boring.
▪ Problems Caused by Stress Factors
Stress factors have the ability to induce a range of disorders, including psychological issues like depression, anxiety, etc. they also are the cause of emotional instability like irritation, dissatisfaction, tension and fatigue. In addition to that, workplace stress can cause changes in behavior and cognitive functioning like increased levels of aggression and concentration-lapses.
In situations where stress doesn’t cause any physiological or physical damage, it still accounts of big drops in productivity. Stressed-out employees yield poor performance, are less receptive, and engage in higher absenteeism. These conditions lead to deviant behavior, health-related expenses and increased chances of work place injury.
2. Workplace Stress- Five Models
According to expert, there are five models that explain workplace stress, which are-
• Person Environment Fit Model
• Job Characteristics Model
• Diathesis-Stress Model
• Jobs-Demanded Resources Model
• Effort-Reward Imbalance Model
Let’s us now discuss each of these models in detail.
▪ Person Environment Fit Model
According to this model, a person starts to feel stress in a job where is his aptitude, skills abilities and resources are in-line with the necessities of their job. The job profile he is operating in should be in accordance to his needs, knowledge and skills-sets.
▪ Job Characteristics Model
This model proposes that for an employee to be successful in any job, he needs to have some degree of autonomy and he should be able to give a feedback which is heard. Such conditions result in job enrichment and employee loyalty. The absence of these factors can cause work disassociation and drops in productivity.
▪ Diathesis-Stress Model
This model makes a distinction between stressful job conditions and individual strains. Strains can be mental, physical or emotional and most of the times, these strains change from person to person.
The significant strains among them are-
• Excessive workload
• Disagreeable Workplace Environments
• Lack of Autonomy
• Difficult Relationships with Coworkers
• Lack of Career Growth
• Low Chances of Personal Growth While Working and
• Harassment from Management.
▪ Jobs-Demanded Resources Model
This model posits that Workplace stress can be associated to the difference of job demands and resources. Experienced at managerial levels, it is caused when a bully management expects manager to deliver high results with how resources. There is several skewed rations between job demands and job resources. Even good manager cannot deal with this stress and end up stressed.
▪ Effort-Reward Imbalance Model
This model focuses on the relation between efforts and rewards. When employees put in hard work,
they expect management to reward their efforts. In absence of any such reward program, the employees get demotivated and underperform.
It is not enough in today’s world to except good output from employees as a “part of this job”. Companies that think they are entitled to get good output from employees just because they pay them, need to realize that it is not paying, but compensating them for their time, i.e. the employees could have done something way more productive with the time they spend in the company.
3. Handling Stressful Situations
There is a famous saying that when two or more people are about to cause an undesirable situation, then the smart guy among them can respond in the following four ways-
• He should first try to avoid the situation while if he can.
• If things have moved well beyond that point, then he could attempt to alter the situation by channeling the conversation towards something more suitable.
• If that isn’t an option anymore, then he may change his behavior to suit the situation.
• If all the above three options have been declared null and void, then he has to prepared himself and take steps to face the worst-case scenario, which is-accepting the situation and its consequences.
These four steps also tell us how people have tried over the years to find a way of dealing with stressful situations. People tend to blame a different world, a changed time, different activities, etc.
for increase in stress. However, stress has existed since the time people have started working for compensations.
▪ Altering the Situation
Many people try to justify their age-old detrimental habits by saying, “A leopard can’t change its spot”, but we’d like to disagree. People just don’t “have” bodies that work sufficiently well without seven hours of sleep, the same way people aren’t just “resistant” to the ill-effects of alcohol and other intoxicating substances.
It might also happen that these peoples’ bodies have conditioned themselves to the unhealthy routine, however it doesn’t mean that bodies are thriving because of their schedule; their bodies are at best, trying to perform as efficiently as possible in a negative environment.
▪ Identifying Appropriate Situations
Altering stress is one of the most positive steps one can think of. When you control the situations and change it to something less stressful, you are taking power in your own hands by not letting the situation dictate your actions. But this step cannot be used always.
• Altering the situations to a situation that is not safe. For example, you find wearing helmet makes feel stuffy, so you might not want to wear it, which is a grave mistake.
• Altering the situation by transferring the stress to someone else, which- let’s face it- is just mean.
While altering the situations, it is important to know whether you alter it to appropriate actions or
the inappropriate ones. Make the efforts worth a long-term benefit. Before doing something,
remember to involve everyone, remember to involve everyone and discuss with them whether your
new actions are appropriate and helpful.
▪ Creating Effective Actions
There are times when people feel that accepting situations as they are, makes them feel helpless and powerless, but this is not true. The best part is you are learning to accept the situation as it is and are able to deal with it rather than avoiding or altering it. Generally, the power of choice helps reduce stress to great extent.
Let’s take a simple example which we have discussed earlier. Visiting a doctor for regular checkup instead of neglecting it. If you go ahead to visit the doctor, you could gain things from it, like-
• Understand what your body needs.
• Be assured if you have a healthy life or not.
• More confidence.
Another method to handle unchangeable situations is to look at in a positive way, negative thinking
will never do good and cause more stress in your life rather than solving any problem.
4. Getting a low-Stress Life
In today’s world, employees can’t work in isolation anymore; everyone is working on everyone else’s
errands. In such a connected and hectic world, it is impossible to get rid of all stress factors as some with the occupation, and some are intentionally to complete their work.
Before we start by briefing all the three approaches, we will have a quick look at the basics of low stress lifestyle. There are three building blocks when makes low-stress lifestyle possible, which are-
• Sleep, and
▪ Eating Properly
We tend to rely more on fast-food and online-delivery foods rather than a home cooked meal. We might feel we don’t have the time or patience to cook after returning from a tiring day at office. Fresh fruits and juices have been replaced by packaged flavored juices, meals have been replaced by ready to serve items and what not.
But what we think is never think about that how drastically these junk foods are affecting our health. In the age of multi-tasking and finishing things on or before deadline, we forget our first priority is to take care of our health and body, so that we can focus more on our work.
▪ Exercise Regularly
People tends to work for long hours siting in front of their computer screen, which is eventually affects
their spinal cord and induces weight-related issues. After sometime, they suffer from disease like obesity, cholesterol, problem in spinal cord, etc. so one should always find some time to stay fit. Exercise plays an important role in reducing our body. Some other benefits of regular exercise are-
• It makes you physically strong and active, so you are more resilient to stress.
• It helps you to think clearly which limits the harmful effects of stress.
• It helps you with emotions; you can control your anger and frustration better.
• It can also give your “me time”, where you can think of a situation clearly and come up with
different ways to overcome it.
One can start exercising by any of the two ways: the first is thirty minutes per day workout, or three to five one-hour sessions per week. If you don’t have enough time to exercise, then try to indulge yourself in some activities which you actually enjoy and which will give you some alone time. You can try some of the following ways-
• Take a walk during breaks.
• Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
• Walk or bike to or office, if possible.
• Instead of sitting, start walking while talking on phone.
• When watching television, use commercial banks to do quick exercise.
▪ Sleeping Well
It is very important to have a good nights’ sleep. Sleep helps your body and mind to relax. Sometimes you need to stop thinking everything and just shut your brain from every single thought that comes to your mind, relax your brain and sleep.
Try the following tips to help you get a good nights’ sleep:
• The bed is for relaxing and sleeping, don’t use it for any other purpose like reading, watching TV, working, etc. it adds to the stress in muscles which prevent sleep. For the same reasons,
use only your bed to sleep and not the coach or the armchair.
• Your bedroom should be comfortable place to sleep. Use curtains to keep the light out, dim the lights while sleeping, wear a blanket and don’t allow noise or distractions.
• Try to get an appropriate and regular bed time; always go to bed at the same time which gives a routine to your biological clock.
• A cup of warm milk, few stretches, a few moments of meditation, a warm bath and quite music are all great way to relax, which help you get a good night’s sleep.
5. Workplace Stressbusters
Till now, we have discussed the different ways in which we can create stress by reducing various factors of our lifestyle and how to limit the effect of stressful situations. In spite of all these steps, stress will still happen.
It is a part of our lives which we can never change but yes, we can use some tools which would helps us to keep cool and deal with it. Following are some factors which will help you maintain your calm and handle stress patiently-
• Finding a Sanctuary
• Using Music
• Seeing the Humor
Lets us now discuss each of these factors in detail.
▪ Finding a Sanctuary
Sometimes we are so blocked with our situations and stress that we just want to escape to someplace better. A place where we could escape and become free from tensions, duties and everything.
Imagine a tropical beach or a place full of greenery and nature’s treasure.
You can’t always go for vacation; every time you essential you are stressed but you can always create your own personal sanctuary in your mind. Your mind is capable of doing lots of things. Strat by thinking about your favorite place like a forest, tropical island, snowy mountain, waterfall or even your hometown. Think of anywhere you want to right now, a place which would make you feel more relaxed and safer
Using your scenario to capture all the elements of your sanctuary-
• What do you see?
• What does it smell like?
• What does it feel like? (you may be able to feel the cold snow of mountains.)
• What texture do you associate with this place?
You can always create your own physical sanctuary by writing down your observations , feelings, drawing a picture or trucking away a physical piece of it (like a rock or leaf) in your desk.
▪ Using Music
Music is a powerful tool that can help you calm your mind and body. According to experts, rhythm has powerful effects on our bodies. So whatever we want to take a break or relax listen to some calming music like the rain drops or nature sounds or some Jazz and classical these are great ways to elope to a different world free from all the workload and have some me time.
If you are interested in music, then playing some musical instruments can also help you relax your mind and refresh your mood. It relieves not just your mental tension but also physical tension. Even if you are not good at playing instruments you can always put on your favorite song and sing. This will definitely cheer you up.
▪ Seeing the Humor
Humor can be a great stressbuster. It is a proven fact that a good belly laugh helps you handle high blood pressure, limits hormones created stress, boosts the immune system and creates a sense of wellbeing and happiness. Following are some points that need to be taken care of when using humor as stress relief.
• Reading a funny story or joke or watching a comedy show can be a great way to make you laugh.
• Place a humorous calendar at your desk which will make you laugh at hand, especially if it is the page-a-day type. But remember to use the one allowed and appropriate for your office.
• It is difficult to see humor in a stressful situation, but instead of panicking try imagination the situation as a third party, you might get your solution.
Having a good time with friends and family members is also a good way of cheering your
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