Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Stress is all around us

Stress is all around us

One of the words that you hear most commonly in workplaces today is the word ‘stress’.

“There is so much stress at work”

“I’m so stressed about this tender document we are working on.”

“Every time that client calls me, my stress levels hit the roof.”

People everywhere are stressed. Or think they are stressed. Or they like to talk about being stressed. It’s such a common phenomenon in the 21st century that maybe historians looking back will refer to this era as the Stressed-Out Age’.

Yet, stress is not a brand new trend for it was back in 1992 that the UN report called job stress a ‘20th Century Epidemic’ and the World Health Organisation called job stress a ‘World Wide Epidemic’.

There are numerous estimates that indicate that job stress costs industry billions of dollars each year in absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover, accidents, direct medical, legal, and insurance fees and compensation payments.

We all get stressed at some time in our working life, some more than others. The way we deal with stress is the main difference that separates us, and the degree to which we are affected is also a major variable. Not only can stress affect your ability to work, consequently affecting your business, but more importantly, it can dramatically affect your health.

Believe it or not, stress is not always a bad thing. It is a natural phenomenon and you cannot eliminate it altogether. Instead, you have to learn how to control or 'manage' stress to avoid the negative symptoms that we are threatened by.

Stress is 'taken' by the individual and not 'given' by the pressure of work. In other words, it is not about being faced with pressure, but more how we react to pressure. This is why some people welcome stress, as it acts as a motive to get things done.

Many executives who work long hours, travel frequently and feel generally overloaded seem to continually feel the negative effects of stress. The number of hours employees now spend at work has steadily increased in the past few decades. Some Industrial Relations specialists are suggesting that people are now spending as much time at their jobs as they did back in the 1920s.

Many psychologists say that stress adds flavour, challenge and opportunity to life. Without stress, life would be dull and unexciting. However, too much stress can seriously affect your physical and mental well-being. Recurrent physical and psychological stress can diminish self-esteem, decrease interpersonal and academic effectiveness and create a cycle of self-blame and self-doubt. It is important for your health that you find the optimal level of stress that you can learn to manage effectively.

Stress is unique and personal to each of us. What is relaxing to one person may be stressful to another. One person may find "taking it easy" at the beach relaxing while another may find it boring. The key to stress reduction is identifying strategies that fit you as an individual.

Some of the best actions for dealing with stress include:
  • Remove yourself from the stressful situation and give yourself a break if only for a few moments daily.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself and reduce the number of events going on in your life and you may reduce the circuit overload.
  • Don't sweat the small stuff - try to prioritise a few truly important things and let the rest slide.
  • Don't overwhelm yourself by fretting about your entire workload. Handle each task as it comes, or selectively deal with matters in some priority.


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