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Techniques for Managing Workplace Stress

Stress is universal: all people are affected by it in varying degrees. However, the causes and how people deal with stress are different. Stress is becoming more of a problem because of modern workplace pressures and uncertainty. Your goal is to control stress so it does not control you. We can learn about stress by thinking of a violin string. There needs to be a certain level of tension on the string so that it can make music. If the string has no tension, it will not create a musical sound. If it has too much tension, it can snap. Stress through life events creates the tension on the string; people are the string and wood of the violin. People have different levels of abilities to work within and tolerate stress, just like the violin string.  

Some events that cause tension are:
  • employment uncertainty
  • uncertain Future
  • marriage/divorce
  • illness
  • financial problems
  • change
  • workload - deadlines
  • lack of support
  • continual conflict

Some effects of tension are:
  • tight neck muscles
  • churning stomach
  • increased blood pressure
  • headaches
  • ulcers
  • anxiety
  • increased alcohol or tobacco use
  • clenched fist - clenched jaw

Today’s workplace is filled with stress because of: change, uncertainty and economic fluctuations. This last year we have seen unprecedented numbers of people out of work and the highest unemployment rates in decades. Psychologists are seeing many people with stress related problems because of employment and unemployment uncertainty. For each person, we need to identify the causes of stress and how to manage it.

The following steps will help you in managing your stress:

  1. Identify your causes for stress: for example workplace uncertainty, time, family, money, work-related conflicts, too many demands or self-doubt.
  2. Identify your actions/signs of stress; for example, short-tempered, not finishing projects, feeling overwhelmed, angry, blaming others, withdrawing.
  3. Find ways to lessen stress: voice the unexpressed, discuss causes of stress with a friend or write out the causes. Reread the written causes, underline important issues, and develop an action plan. Instead of worrying about statements that you have already made in anger—control your worrying by working out a best/worst case scenario. When you define a worst case, you can then figure out how to deal with it. You can also realize that a best case may be the outcome. Either way, you have mapped out the consequences of your angry statement and, by doing so, can eliminate the worry and feel in control.
  4. Be honest with yourself — don’t try to accomplish more than what is possible in a given period of time.
  5. Take at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted time for yourself daily. Leave your immediate work area and take a brief walk outside or have an informal discussion with a coworker. These activities can relax you and even enhance productivity.
  6. Tension Discharge Rate: Find an approach for releasing stress: take a walk, read, do deep breathing exercises, listen to music.
You can control stress instead of letting it control you by controlling your thoughts and attitudes toward situations and people.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dr. Rex Gatto published on June 14, 2010 2:39 PM.

Are Employers Facing a Deficit of Trust? was the previous entry in this blog.

A Healthy Workplace Based on Trust is the next entry in this blog.

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