How does stress management work

how does stress management help and how to manage stress effectively in the workplace
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Published Date:17-07-2017
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Tips, Insights & Tactics Stress ManagementTips, Insights & Tactics Stress Management There are two types of stress. Positive stress is called eustress. It’s the short-lived, motivating kind of stress that helps incent us to prepare for a test, a sporting competition or other challenge. Negative stress is called distress. It’s the longer term, anxiety- ridden kind of stress. The purpose of this report is to help you recognize and deal more effectively with the negative stressors in your life. Table of contents Causes of Stress 3 Effects of Stress 4 Health and Stress 5 Stress Management 7 Stress Countermeasures 9 Stress Relief 13Excess stress is the enemy of harmony and Take a moment to list the top five stressors productivity; at work and at home. It affects you’re currently dealing with in your life. our mental and physical well-being, and our If you’re having trouble identifying your relationships. Some stressors are easily dealt stressors, below are a few ideas that with. Others are more complex, and may may help: require a combination of strategies • Keep a journal for a week or two. At the to manage. end of each day, write down a brief note This report examines the causes and effects to identify what, where, who, how or why of too much stress, and provides tips, you felt stressed. It won’t take long before insights and tactics to help you reduce you’ll be able to see which things occur the stress in your life. most often and which cause the greatest levels of anxiety. Causes of Stress • Divide your adult life into three segments. Stress is created by the demands and For each segment of years, what recurring pressures we feel. Their effects can be factors do you remember that made physical, mental and emotional. Although your life stressful at work, home or school we may try to compartmentalize our lives, during that period. Are you dealing with we are whole beings. What happens at work, any of the same issues today? may affect what happens at home—or • Here’s a list of common stress triggers: vice versa. Change—The larger the change, the Stressors aren’t entirely universal. What greater the potential stress. Is the change upsets one person, another is able to take happening to you or with you? Will in stride. So, it’s important to understand adapting be easy or difficult? Whether which things are creating our individual you agree or not, do you understand the stress. Once we’ve identified our personal reason the change is being made? stress triggers, we can begin to take action to deal with them. Stress Management 3Causes of Stress (continued) FUD—fear, uncertainty and doubt. Somber Mood—humourless, difficulty smiling, laughing or lightening up. Expectations—yours or those around you. Tiredness—lack of energy or enthusiasm. Attitude/Perception—how does your Sleep—difficulty sleeping, or difficultly individual mental/physical health factor going back to sleep. into what’s distressing you? Your lifestyle? Temperament—irritable, easily angered, Beliefs? anti-social behaviour. Overwork—particularly over long periods. Emotional—inappropriate outbursts. Isolation—lack of information/ Anxiety—excessive, unable to move on. communication. Appetite—some research indicates Duration—chronic stressors. appetite increases in response to short term stress and decreases in response to stress Effects of Stress over a long period. Feeling stressed can have a multiplying Skin conditions—chronic conditions effect. For example, losing patience with like eczema and alopecia are exacerbated friends or family members, when what’s by stress. really stressing us is something at work. When we live with stress over time it can Excess—increased use of caffeine, alcohol, begin to feel normal. We may raise our tobacco, pain relievers or other drugs. tolerance, but eventually it will take its toll. Long term stress will eventually affect If you recognize any of the following attitude, attendance and attrition at work. physical or mental symptoms of stress, Unchecked, it can lead to an impaired try to identify their cause. immune system or other, even more serious health conditions like cardiovascular disease Tight Muscles—usually in the neck, or cancer. shoulders, or jaw; or other nervous habits. Headache—or gastrointestinal upset.Exercise Health and Stress The benefits of exercise are well Optimizing your health directly relieves documented. A workout provides immediate stress through activities like exercise. Plus, it stress relief through the release of pent up helps you to better withstand the negative energy. Like meditation, it can also focus effects stress can cause. As in all health- all your thoughts in the moment, relieving related advice, consult your doctor or a your mind from its stressors. Longer term, it nutritionist to ensure you’re getting the improves your body’s ability to handle some nutrients and vitamins you need, and for the of the negative effects of stress. safety of any exercise or dietary programs you adopt. Sleep Like nutrition, ensure your mind and body Diet get the rest they require. A proper night’s Strive for a healthy, balanced diet. Think of sleep, regularly, helps alleviate stress and food as something to nourish your body. helps you be more creative, energetic Assess your current diet, make reasonable, and positive. incremental improvements and repeat. If you drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, Ergonomics use moderation. The same goes for donuts Good posture and good ergonomics when and other sugary treats. working at a computer for extended periods, will help fend off fatigue, physical stress and Many nutritionists encourage adding potential injury. If possible, work at a raised Omega-3, which occurs naturally in fish like workstation so you can switch between salmon and sardines, to your diet regularly. sitting and standing. Water Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated. Many enclosed environments like offices, automobiles, and airplanes especially, are arid. The water will flush toxins, and get you up and moving for more bathroom breaks too. Stress Management 5Health and Stress (continued) Emotional Health Note that the proper care and nurturing When something stressful occurs, try to of your physical and mental state consider the long term perspective instead is not a cure for medical conditions. of reacting with a short term response. Stress levels can affect the severity Take the high road. Cope with stress, with of symptoms you feel, but consult a maturity and intelligence, rather than doctor to treat any underlying medical emotion. It will help you lessen the conditions directly. stressor’s effect on you. Acceptance Perfection is an ideal, not a reality. Aim to improve, not to be perfect. Accept where you are at this moment, unequivocally. Embrace your flaws as comfortably as your strengths. Then begin a realistic, incremental plan of improvement. Unconditional self-acceptance is a wonderful stress buster. Try it. Self-Talk Watch your language. The way you talk to yourself is a great indicator of the pressure you put on yourself. When you present to a group, notice the difference between, “I hope to do well,” versus “I expect to do well.” If things go less than perfect, notice the difference between, “I need to practice more next time,” versus “I made a mess of that.” We are often our own harshest judge. Why not be your own best coach?Exposure to Stressful Situations Stress Management Once you’ve identified situations that create As individuals, we all cope with stress stress, you can begin to lessen their effect. differently. Our genetics, personality and life Some can be eliminated completely. Others experience all factor into our response and may be unavoidable, but can be reduced. ability to handle various stressors. There are For example, if you find the heavy traffic of relatively few things in life we can control your rush hour commute infuriating, you can completely. There are a few more that we choose to limit your exposure. Change your can influence. And there is a majority over hours, your route, or the method of your which we have no control whatsoever. Strive commute, such as a carpool or bus. to recognize the difference every day. Change the Pattern When we encounter something beyond our One of the best ways to reduce stress is to control or influence we have a choice: we change the circumstances surrounding it. can worry about it (stress) or take control And pay attention to your mood. If you’re of our reaction to it (de-stress). As Stephen having a bad day already, give yourself Covey, author of the landmark The 7 Habits ® a few moments to relax and de-stress a of Highly Effective People advised, we little before you immediately jump into a each have a circle of concern (larger) and a situation you suspect will be stressful. circle of influence (smaller). When we focus on concerns, our circle of influence shrinks. Take a Breath When we focus on our areas of influence, Today’s relentless pursuit of productivity our influence grows. raises our stress levels. We’re driven to When you’re ready to decrease the stress accomplish, but the reality is that we do our in your life, you can manage it in three best work when we’re fresh and energized. ways: exposure, countermeasures and Investing a little time to rest and refresh relief. Choose several of the strategies in usually more than pays for itself. the sections that follow to create a plan to manage and reduce the impact of the stressors in your life. Stress Management 7Stress Management (continued) Take a moment for a relaxing breath Strive for Balance every hour. If you work at a computer Overload is a common cause of stress. continuously, get up and get away from Before you take on more projects and it for a moment. When you return you’ll tasks, consider your current schedule and be more alert and relaxed. And take a commitments. Think in terms of balancing longer, more complete break at appropriate your time across a variety of high-value intervals, from the day’s stressors. It will tasks—not just filling it. help reset the balance.yourself than others, imagine you’re setting Stress Countermeasures goals for someone else. Or try breaking your When we begin losing control over our goals up into smaller, more realistic pieces. projects and tasks we begin feeling And as you work your way through your overwhelmed. As the feelings mount, so milestones, don’t forget to celebrate does our stress. One of the most powerful your success. stress busters is organization and planning. Practice Improvement Plan Your Day Counteracting different stressors can take Any time you feel like your day is planning time to learn to do effectively. Be kind you, stop at your first opportunity to reverse to yourself. Give yourself time to learn. the situation. Get organized. Take your Start small and build. Pick a specific stress overwhelming workload and quantify it. It reaction, find a useful countermeasure and may still be large, but it will be finite. And learn to master it. For example, counteract what can be defined, can be managed. anger with calming strategies; withdrawing Make a list of action items—monthly, with energizing tactics; and shutting down weekly or daily—whichever is helpful. Some with rejuvenating measures. Then move on project managers like to end their workday and up. defining tomorrow’s action items and some Change Your Perspective prefer to create their daily list at the start of When you’re caught up in the moment of a the day. setback; when you’ve lost perspective, stress If it’s an option, delegate, or share your increases. To regain your balance, make a workload with coworkers. If not, talk to your successful break from what’s causing your manager and work out a plan to prioritize stress. Ask a trusted friend or associate for your assignments. advice—not empathy or validation— useful advice. Set Goals Realistically Goal setting is an important aspect of planning and organization. But don’t fall into the trap of creating unrealistic or unreachable goals. If you expect more of Stress Management 9Stress Countermeasures (continued) Learn from those who seem to handle Follow the Money stress successfully. Ask them for ideas. Do Money and work vie for first place on the something kind for yourself. Frame the list of top stressors. If you feel as if you’ve situation in time. How will you look back on lost control of spending, try switching from this a week, a month, a year, from now? plastic to cash. It changes your perspective. Or keep all your receipts, like you would for Take a ten or fifteen minute break—alone. an expense report. Total them up to see Relax and wipe the slate clean. When you where the money goes. When you have return to the task at hand, try to keep your the big picture, it’s easier to see where to new perspective top of mind. make cuts and how to approach spending Explore the Past more strategically. As you were growing up, how did close Unplug friends and family members deal with stress. Mobile computing continues to blur the lines Did you learn helpful or ineffective coping between work and home. The always-on skills from them? Leverage what’s useful compulsion is addicting and can usurp so and try to be conscious of reactions that much of your attention, there’s no time left aren’t helping. to simply relax. Everyone needs downtime Weigh Your Contribution to recharge. If you find you can’t help It’s easy for stress to ignite negative checking messages throughout the evening, emotions. Don’t go there. Instead, strive try confining it to a specific time. Almost to be assertive, not aggressive. When it’s anything can wait a few hours. You’ll be able relevant, assert your opinions and feelings to respond more effectively and efficiently instead of becoming angry, defensive or when you’re well rested and fresh. passive aggressive. Remember, you’re either Manage Your Perceptions contributing to the solution, or the problem; The more stressed we are, the more reducing stress, or increasing it. negative we become. Pay attention to what you express to others and to yourself. This is not a suggestion to sugar coat reality. A glass with equal parts of water and air, is just that. But the way we express what we see, tells us something about our perception.Watch for Patterns It’s human nature to commiserate. We all do it. But a little goes a long way. If you find yourself revisiting the same complaints, it’s time for a more strategic approach. Try to identify the issue as clearly and unemotionally as possible. Then brainstorm solutions. And remember, it’s considerably more difficult to change someone else’s behaviour than your own. Think Big Picture A famous prayer counsels us to accept the things we can’t change; to have the Lighten Up strength to change the things we can; and Humour is a wonderful counter- the wisdom to know the difference. It’s measure for anxiety. It’s next to a simple guide, but not always so easy to impossible to be simultaneously apply. Nevertheless, it’s worth stepping back anxious and light-hearted. In fact, from most stressful situations, and giving we naturally create a state of it a try. giddiness or feeling punchy after a Choose Your Complements prolonged period of stress or intense Neutral colours are selected to fade into effort. Foster your sense of humour the background, but colour can pack a to take the edge off stressors. Some powerful psychological punch. Research has workers keep a joke book handy, or shown that shades of green and blue have a subscribe to humourous websites, so calming, soothing effect. Attention-getting that help is near whenever they feel colours like red, orange and yellow have a the need to lighten their mood. stimulating effect. Surround yourself with colours that help mitigate the effects of the stressors you feel most often. Stress Management 11Ease Up Stress Relief Tension often shows up in tight muscles in The body’s natural response to stressors the neck, shoulders, arms and hands. You is the “fight or flight response.” Breathing may not even notice the subtle increase over and heart rate increases. Pupils dilate. The time. Try gradually clenching the muscles in body preps itself for physical action. We’re one area for 30 seconds, then release. Use perfectly evolved for threats of physical the sensation to help you relax even further danger. Not ideal for the stressors of the with the goal to release all the tension in digital age. Instead, we need ways to that area. counteract the body’s natural response; to relax tense muscles, frayed nerves and Take a Deep Breath defensive postures. Conscious relaxation usually begins with breathing. When we’re stressed our Start by exploring your senses. They’re breaths become shallow. Even a couple of magical. Which ones have the most deep breaths can help us relax. If there’s powerful calming effects on you— time to go a bit deeper, sit in a chair with sound, scent, touch, taste or sight? good support for your back and arms. Sit Tune In comfortably with your feet flat on the The right music, or recordings of the floor, the chair supporting you. Take slow, natural world like ocean waves or rainfall, deep breaths as you focus on feeling the can have a powerful renewing effect. Today, weight of different parts of your body being access to music has never been easier, or supported. Start with your feet and slowly more personal. Use it to reenergize or ease work your way up to the top of your head. tensions, clearing your mind to think more clearly and calmly. Stress Management 13Stress Relief (continued) Center Yourself Yoga and meditation have shown great benefit to reduce stress, calm anxiety and enable a more positive, creative frame of mind. Hatha yoga is a recommended style for beginners. It will help you tone your muscles, learn to control your breathing and quiet your mind. Rejuvenate Access to massage is no longer limited to luxury spas and upscale health clubs. Its growth is in part due to its benefits in reducing stress and aiding relaxation. Today, massage is available at the office, events, clinics and hospitals, and specialty shops. Talk to your doctor and a certified massage therapist to determine what’s right for you. Reflexology is a specific type of massage that focuses on reflex areas of the feet and Just Be hands that correspond to organs, glands If you have easy access to a pool or and other parts of the body. Some office calm waters, floating can provide a workers gently rock an empty bottle or unique and beneficial approach to a golf ball with their feet to help relieve relaxation. There’s something about tension and stress. water that promotes a sense of calm and a connection with the natural world that can wash away the day’s worries and cares.Reach Out Sleep Restfully When feelings of isolation contribute to When the day is done, try consciously your distress, tap your social networks. relaxing your body before falling asleep. Contact with friends and family provides Focus your mind on breathing and considerable support to help you cope and relaxation to give yourself a calm, soothing decompress. They can also help you expand start on getting a restful night’s sleep. your network, if you feel your social circle is Tap Every Sense too small or limiting. Aromatherapy is the use of fragrance to Stop to Refresh affect mood or behaviour. Use of essential At work, it may be difficult to find a place oils is not without controversy. Check with a where you can relax for a few minutes licensed medical provider for advice. Scents without feeling self-conscious or as if you of lavender, chamomile and sandalwood are could be interrupted at any moment. In nice often said to have a calming effect. weather, a nearby park may work. If nothing Seek the Help You Need else comes to mind, consider a short escape If you find yourself unable to relax or de- to the parking lot, to sit in your car. Push the stress, it may be time to seek further help. seat back, close your eyes and focus your Consider setting up an interview with a mind on relaxing for a few calming minutes. therapist, who specializes in stress relief, to If you work from home, you might even help you develop coping strategies that will consider a power nap after lunch. It works work for you. wonders for workers in Central America and other parts of the world. Stress Management 15Tips, Insights & Tactics Stress Management For related tips see: Stop Just Getting By • Six Steps to Lasting Improvement Advances in technology continue ® • Time Management Checklist to make Xerox printers and multifunction printers better than • Manage Your Time More Effectively ever. Our current line-up will help you be more productive with less effort. Make your work stand out with more vibrant, more consistent image quality. 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