Stress management at work

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Jo Sutherland, guest blogger at CMI postulates that mental health problems in the workplace consist an invisible threat that should not be undermined. Stress not only blocks productivity but also threatens the general well-being of the workforce.

‘A survey by the Mental Health Foundation found that 28 per cent of men and 19 per cent of women with mental health problems admitted they had not sought any help. It’s important, then, that managers understand the signs and establish the support networks necessary to ensure that nobody feels they have to suffer in silence.’

Source: CMI

According to Robinson et al. (2008) in order to fight stress in an effective manner, it is crucial to identify its sources. One of the most effective stress management techniques is applying the four As: avoid, alter, adapt and accept.

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Avoid consists of ‘learning to say no’, knowing one’s limits and sticking to them, avoid taking excess responsibility, recognizing necessary responsibility and avoiding excessive workload. Furthermore, alter consists of altering unavoidable situations, releasing stressful feelings by expressing them, ‘be willing to compromise’ and maintain a ‘balanced schedule.’ What’s more, adapt consists of willing to change oneself instead of the ‘stressor’, change the viewing perspective to a more positive, ‘look at the big picture’, adjust one’s standards to a reasonable level, avoid perfectionism, and ‘practice gratitude.’ Likewise, accept refers to acceptance of whatever is beyond one’s control. Instead of trying to control the ‘uncontrollable’ and changing the ‘unavoidable’, one can practice positive, optimistic behaviour, willingness to forgive and move further. Similarly, sharing feelings with a friend or an expert may be proved to be ‘cathartic’, reducing the burden and suffocation caused by stress.

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   Another key thing to remember, as Robinson et al. (2008) posit, activities are especially helpful in stress management, more specifically rhythmic exercise. Not only activities but also ‘connecting to others’ is equally important as interaction triggers body hormones that relieve stress naturally. Coupled with the above, ‘fun and relaxation’ play an important role in stress management as they pro-act rest and ‘recharge’ one with energy. Uninterrupted breaks, enjoyable activities and maintaining a ‘sense of humor’ help stress fighting. Another important factor that can help in stress relief is effective time management. Avoiding over-committing to tasks or scheduling activities that take place constantly, without breaks is crucial. Accurate task estimation and prioritization, project fragmentation and ‘delegating responsibility’ may be effective time management techniques. Coupled with the above techniques maintaining a healthy lifestyle is equally important. Sufficient sleep, good quality food and a healthy, nutritious diet avoiding unhealthy foods and damaging substances boost energy and productivity. Finally, one needs to bear in mind that releasing stress ‘in the moment’ is helpful in stress management. Breathing techniques, listening to music or hugging a pet may have a positive effect in stress relief as well. The success of the suggested stress management methods vary depending on the individual.

References

Robinson, L., Smith, M., & Segal, R. (2018). Stress management. HelpGuide.org. Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-management.htm

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