Types of Stress
It is a contributory factor in minor conditions, such as headaches, digestive problems, skin complaints, insomnia and ulcers.
Excessive, prolonged and unrelieved stress can have a harmful effect on mental, physical and spiritual health.
Stress can also have a positive effect, spurring motivation and awareness, providing the stimulation to cope with challenging situations.
Stress also provides the sense of urgency and alertness needed for survival when confronting threatening situations.
Everyone is different, with unique perceptions of, and reactions to, events. There is no single level of stress that is optimal for all people. Some are more sensitive owing to experiences in childhood, the influence of teachers, parents and religion etc. Most of the stress we experience is self-generated. How we perceive life - whether an event makes us feel threatened or stimulated, encouraged or discouraged, happy or sad - depends to a large extent on how we perceive ourselves. Self-generated stress is something of a paradox, because so many people think of external causes when they are upset. Recognising that we create most of our own upsets is an important first step towards coping with them.
This is the “ Fight or Flight” response that prepares the body for immediate action.
In chronic stress situations, sufferers enter the exhaustion phase: emotional, physical and mental resources suffer heavily, the body experiences ‘ adrenal exhaustion’ leading to decreased stress tolerance, progressive mental and physical exhaustion, illness and collapse.
Symptoms of Stress
Sleep pattern changes
Loss of sexual drive
Aches and pains
Sweating & trembling
Tingling hands & feet
Lack of concentration
Difficulty in making decisions
Bouts of depression
Fits of rage
Deterioration of personal hygiene and appearance
Appetite changes - too much or too little
Eating disorders - anorexia, bulimia
Increased intake of alcohol & other drugs
Stress Related Illnesses
Stress is not the same as ill-health, but has been related to such illnesses as:
Immune system disease
Skin complaints - psoriasis
Headaches and migraines
Costs of Stress
Workplace stress has caused between $125 and $190 billion a year of added expenditures in health care. The biggest factor is high demands at work, which result in about $48 billion in spending (Forbes 2015).
Why Do We Work?
Work provides an income and fulfils a variety of other needs: mental and physical exercise, social contact, a feeling of self-worth and competence.
Factors Influencing Work Stress
Western society is driven by ‘work’, personal adequacy equates with professional success, we crave status and abhor failure. Our culture demands monetary success / professional status.
Many people feel lucky to have a job. Unemployment, redundancy, shorter working weeks, new technology affect emotional and physical security. No more jobs for life, more short - term contracts. Financial and emotional burnout is increasing among all levels.
Physical and mental health is adversely affected by unpleasant working conditions, such as high noise levels, lighting, temperature and unsocial or excessive hours.
Stress may occur through an inability to cope with the technical or intellectual demands of a particular task.
Circumstances such as long hours, unrealistic deadlines and frequent interruptions will compound this.
This may arise from boredom because there is not enough to do, or because a job is dull and repetitive.
About the individuals work role - objectives, responsibilities, and expectations, and a lack of communication and feedback can result in confusion, helplessness, and stress.
Stress can arise from work the individual does not want to do or that conflicts with their personal, social and family values.
The greater the level of responsibility the greater the potential level of stress.
Good relationships with colleagues are crucial. Open discussion is essential to encourage positive relationships.
Changes that alter psychological, physiological and behavioural routines such as promotion, retirement and redundancy are particularly stressful.
Not all the stress we experience is generated at work!!
Company take over
Reductions / layoffs
Company sale / relocation
Employee benefit cuts
Mandatory overtime required
Little input into decisions
Mistake consequences severe
Fast paced work
React to changes
Red tape delays jobs
Pay below going rate
Employee benefits poor
Consistent poor performance
Death of a loved one
Divorce / separation
Injury/illness ( self / family )
Loss of job
Change in financial status
Change of job / work
Mortgage or loan
Foreclosure of mortgage/loan
Change in responsibilities
Minor violations of the law
Recognize the Problem
The most important point is to recognize the source of the negative stress. This is not an admission of weakness or inability to cope! It is a way to identify the problem and plan measures to overcome it.
Stress Control: A-B-C Strategy
A - Awareness
What causes you stress? How do you react?
B - Balance
There is a fine line between positive/negative stress. How much can you cope with before it becomes negative?
C - Control
What can you do to help yourself combat the negative effects of stress?
Stress Management Techniques
Change Your Thinking
Re-framing is a technique to change the way you look at things in order to feel better about them. There are many ways to interpret the same situation so pick the one you like. Re-framing does not change the external reality, but helps you view things in a different light and less stressfully.
Forget powerlessness, dejection, despair, failure
Stress leaves us vulnerable to negative suggestion so focus on positives:
Focus on your strengths
Learn from the stress you are under
Look for opportunities
Seek out the positive - make a change.
Change Your Behavior
Assertiveness helps to manage stressful situations, and will , in time, help to reduce their frequency. Lack of assertiveness often shows low self - esteem and low self - confidence. The key to assertiveness is verbal and non - verbal communication. Extending our range of communication skills will improve our assertiveness.
Being assertive involves standing up for your personal rights and expressing your thoughts, feelings and beliefs directly, honestly and spontaneously in ways that don’t infringe the rights of others.
Equality and Basic Rights
- The right to express my feelings
- The right to express opinions / beliefs
- The right to say ‘Yes/No’ for yourself
- Right to change your mind
- Right to say ‘I don’t understand’
- Right to be yourself, not acting for the benefit of others
- The right to decline responsibility for other people’s problems
- The right to make reasonable requests of others
- The right to set my own priorities
- The right to be listened to, and taken seriously
Respect themselves and others
Take responsibility for actions and choices
Ask openly for what they want
Disappointed if ‘want’ denied
Self - confidence remains intact
Not reliant on the approval of others
Establish good eye contact / don’t stare
Stand or sit comfortably - don’t fidget
Talk in a firm, steady voice
Use body language
‘I think’ / ‘I feel’
‘What do you think?’ ‘How do you feel?’
Concise and to the point
Poor organization is one of the most common causes of stress. Structured approaches offer security against ‘out of the blue’ problems. Prioritizing objectives, duties and activities makes them manageable and achievable. Don’t overload your mind. Organization will help avoid personal and professional chaos.
Manage stress more successfully
Appreciate yourself and others more easily
Feeling of self-control
Make a list
-- What MUST be done
-- What SHOULD be done
-- What would you LIKE to do
Cut out time wasting
Learn to drop unimportant activities
Say no or delegate
Plan your day
Set achievable goals
Don’t waste time making excuses for not doing something
‘A problem shared is a problem halved’
Develop a support network through friends or colleagues to talk with. It’s not always events that are stressful but how we perceive them. Writing a diary or notes may help release feelings but do not re-read what has been written.
Good stress - reducer
Applies at home and work
Relieves muscular tension
Pumps endorphins into the bloodstream - the body’s natural painkillers
Take time out
Get away from things that bother you
Doesn’t solve the problem
Reduce stress level
Change Your Lifestyle
Healthy eating habits
Moderate your consumption
Uses up excess energy released by the ‘Fight or Flight’ reaction.
Improves blood circulation
Lowers blood pressure
Clears the mind of worrying thoughts
Improves self image
Makes you feel better about yourself
Increases social contact
Good stress reducer
Difficult to cope when tired
Wake refreshed after night’s sleep
Plenty of daytime energy
Gives you a ‘break’ from stresses
Provides outlet for relief
Provides social contact
Lowers blood pressure
Eases muscle tension
Decreases mental worries
Increases clear thinking
Counselling & Psychotherapy