What Happens When We Dont Manage Stress Effectively
In small doses, stress can actually be useful as it helps you to stay focused, alert and increases energy. But when stress becomes chronic though, it can damage your health, mood and relationships. Basically, your overall quality of life!
Stress is sneaky! It can easily creep up on you so that being frazzled and overwhelmed starts to feel normal. You may not even recognize how much it is affecting you so it is really important to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and then take steps to stop feeling so overwhelmed.
How To Use Chunking
The next time you are trying to remember items from a list, start by forming them into groups. If you are working with a list of vocabulary words, for example, you might create small groups of words that are similar or related to one another. A shopping list might be broken down into smaller grouping based on whether the items on the list are vegetables, fruits, dairy, or grains.
Chunking can be used as an everyday memory enhancer, but researchers have also found that you can improve your ability to effectively chunk information.
Bor relates the story of one participant in a memory experiment who challenged himself to improve the number of items he could remember. While he was initially able to remember seven items, he increased this to 80 units of information over the course of 20 months. He devoted an hour a day, approximately four days a week to this task.
While you might not be able to devote such intense concentration to improving your memory, there are things that you can do to make the most of your brain’s natural tendency to seek patterns and group information.
Start Your Day Off Right
After scrambling to get the kids fed and off to school, dodging traffic and combating road rage, and gulping down coffee in lieu of a healthy breakfast, many people arrive to work already stressed. This makes them more reactive to stress in the workplace.
You might be surprised by how affected by workplace stress you are when you have a stressful morning. When you start off the day with planning, good nutrition, and a positive attitude, you might find that the stress of your job rolls off your back more easily.
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Stressors During Childhood And Adolescence And Their Psychological Sequelae
The most widely studied stressors in children and adolescents are exposure to violence, abuse , and divorce/marital conflict . also provide an excellent review of the psychological consequences of such stressors. Psychological effects of maltreatment/abuse include the dysregulation of affect, provocative behaviors, the avoidance of intimacy, and disturbances in attachment . Survivors of childhood sexual abuse have higher levels of both general distress and major psychological disturbances including personality disorders . Childhood abuse is also associated with negative views toward learning and poor school performance . Children of divorced parents have more reported antisocial behavior, anxiety, and depression than their peers . Adult offspring of divorced parents report more current life stress, family conflict, and lack of friend support compared with those whose parents did not divorce . Exposure to nonresponsive environments has also been described as a stressor leading to learned helplessness .
Exposure to intense and chronic stressors during the developmental years has long-lasting neurobiological effects and puts one at increased risk for anxiety and mood disorders, aggressive dyscontrol problems, hypo-immune dysfunction, medical morbidity, structural changes in the CNS, and early death .
Incorporate Other Memory Strategies
For example, you might use mnemonics as a way to chunk different units of information. If you are going to the grocery store and need bananas, eggs, nectarines, and tea, you can create a word out of the first letters of each item you need: BENT. Once you remember the keyword, you will then be better able to recall the items represented by each letter of the acronym.
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Reduce A Worrys Power Over You
One very effective way to reduce a worrys power over you is by getting the negative thoughts out of your head and on to paper. Being able to see the worry in black and white helps give you more perspective.
Study your worries by keeping a Worry Diary.
Write down what you fear might happen and then later write down if what you were worried about actually happened, whether it was as bad as you expected, and what you did to cope with the situation.
This will help you understand your worries better, distinguish between worries that are useful and those that are useless, and help you realize that you can cope no matter what happens.
- Set aside some time during the day to worry your worry time. Select a time every day that is convenient for you and pick a suitable amount of time to worry . Use this time to think about your worries and about possible resolutions. It can be helpful to write things down. It will take time to train yourself not to dwell on worries at other times of the day or night.
- Practice is key here. What you can do if you worry outside of the set aside time is to write the worry down and put it in a worry box . Then, when its your official worry time, you can look at your worries and deal with them appropriately.
I hope you find these 6 tips useful. If you would like to read more about ways to overcome anxiety and worrying please take a look at my free booklet.
When clients first come in to see me, the main concerns that come up again and again are:
Referral To Occupational Health
Occupational Health can advise on supportive measures which may help resolve difficulties with stress.
A referral to Occupational Health should always be considered, but may not always be necessary. Your HR Adviser and if necessary the Occupational Health Adviser may be able to assist with such decisions.
It is advisable that a referral to Occupational Health is made in the following circumstances:
- When the management relationship with the person has become difficult or broken down
- When the person is reporting as sick, particularly if the person has already been off work due to stress for two weeks or more
- Where there are other underlying health problems which may require additional consideration and support eg anxiety and depression which may have been triggered or exacerbated by stress.
Further information, including referral documentation, is available from Occupational Health.
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Time Management Tips For Reducing Stress At Work
- Create a balanced schedule. Analyze your schedule, your responsibilities and your daily tasks. All work and no play is a recipe for burnout. Try to find a balance between work and family, social activities and lonely activities, daily responsibilities and downtime.
- Avoid overburdening yourself. Too often, we underestimate how long it will take. If you have too much on your plate, distinguish between “shoulds” and “musts.” Place tasks that are not really necessary at the bottom of the list or delete them altogether.
- If you’re a commuter, try to leave earlier in the morning. A mere 10-15 minutes can be the difference between frantically rushing to your desk and having time to ease into the day. Don’t increase your stress levels by running late.
- Plan regular breaks. Take short breaks throughout the day to go for a walk or to sit back and clear your head. Also, try to get away from your desk or work for lunch.
Taking Steps To Manage Stress
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Provide Onsite Or Distance Counseling
Many companies have also begun providing counseling as a way for employees to help deal with stress in a recent study, almost half of workers felt they needed help in learning how to handle the stresses of their jobs. This strategyin or out of the office, in group settings or individuallycan help employees prepare for what stress will come their way.
Controlling Your Feelings Before They Control You
The way you react to frustrations is down to choice.
Everything can be taken from a man but the last of human freedoms the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way. Viktor Frankl, “Man’s Search for Meaning.”
We’ve all been in one of “those” situations before. You know… when your favorite project is canceled after weeks of hard work when a customer snaps at you unfairly when your best friend is laid off suddenly or your boss assigns you more work when you’re already overloaded.
In your personal life, your reaction to stressful situations like these might be to start shouting, or to go hide in a corner and feel sorry for yourself for a while. But at work, these types of behavior could seriously harm your professional reputation, as well as your productivity.
Stressful situations are all too common in a workplace that’s facing budget cuts, staff layoffs, and department changes. It may become harder and harder to manage your emotions under these circumstances, but it’s even more important for you to do so. After all, if management is forced into making more layoffs, they may choose to keep those who can handle their emotions, and work well under pressure. No matter what the situation is, you’re always free to choose how you react to it.
Know The Difference Between Good Stress And Bad Stress
Not all stress is bad, and not all stress can be avoided.
Good stress motivates you. Deadlines, tests, or being asked to speak in front of other people â these are all situations that create stress, but they are also what motivates us. Good stress tends to be short-term and can even enhance or improve brain function. When the pressure is on, the brain sharpens up.
Bad stress, however, is chronic. It harms your health, slows you down, and can even start to inhibit thinking.
Essentially, stress uses your fight-or-flight response. Good stress gives you time to recover from that response, but bad stress locks you into it and wears you down. Itâs important to know the difference between good and bad stress so you know which is the problem and which is actually helping you.
Inflammation Cytokine Production And Mental Health
In addition to its effects on physical health, prolonged proinflammatory cytokine production may also adversely affect mental health in vulnerable individuals. During times of illness , proinflammatory cytokines feed back to the CNS and produce symptoms of fatigue, malaise, diminished appetite, and listlessness, which are symptoms usually associated with depression. It was once thought that these symptoms were directly caused by infectious pathogens, but more recently, it has become clear that proinflammatory cytokines are both sufficient and necessary to generate sickness behavior .
Sickness behavior has been suggested to be a highly organized strategy that mammals use to combat infection . Symptoms of illness, as previously thought, are not inconsequential or even maladaptive. On the contrary, sickness behavior is thought to promote resistance and facilitate recovery. For example, an overall decrease in activity allows the sick individual to preserve energy resources that can be redirected toward enhancing immune activity. Similarly, limiting exploration, mating, and foraging further preserves energy resources and reduces the likelihood of risky encounters . Furthermore, decreasing food intake also decreases the level of iron in the blood, thereby decreasing bacterial replication. Thus, for a limited period, sickness behavior may be looked upon as an adaptive response to the stress of illness.
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Learn To Recognize Hidden Stress
Even if you work in a profession where the environment has become increasingly stressful, you can maintain a high level of self-control and self-confidence by understanding and practicing emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage and use your emotions positively and constructively. When it comes to satisfaction and success at work, emotional intelligence counts just as much as intellectual ability. Emotional intelligence means communicating with others in a way that draws people to you, overcomes differences, repairs hurt feelings, and reduces tension and stress.
Five Ways To Reduce Stress
- Take time away. If the stress at work increases, try to take a short break and get away from the stressful situation. If possible, take a walk outside the workplace or spend a few minutes meditating in the break room. Physical exercise or finding a quiet place to regain your balance can quickly relieve stress.
- Talk it over with someone. In some situations, it can help relieve stress by simply sharing your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust. Talking about a problem with someone who is both supportive and empathetic can be a great way to let off steam and relieve stress.
- Connect with others in the workplace. Developing friendships with some of your colleagues can help you protect yourself from the negative effects of stress. Remember to listen to them and offer support when they are also in need.
- Look for humor in this situation. If used appropriately, humor is a great way to relieve stress at work. If you or those around you start to take things too seriously, find a way to lighten the mood by sharing a joke or a funny story.
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Take Care Of Yourself
Setting aside time for self-care is a must if you regularly find yourself feeling overwhelmed by work. This means prioritizing sleep, setting aside time for fun, and making sure youre eating throughout the day.
Feel like you dont have the time? Keep in mind that youll likely be able to tackle work issues more effectively when your core needs are being met.
Talk It Out With Peers
Most likely, at least some of your peers are feeling overwhelmed with work as well. Teams should be able to lean on one another and ask for advice. Get insights from your colleagues on how they handle their workload. It also may be helpful to ask, These things are on my plate. How would you tackle them? They may have some useful answers.
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Keep Perfectionism In Check
Being a high achiever might make you feel good about yourself and help you excel at work, but being a perfectionist can create problems for you .
You might not be able to do everything perfectly, every timeespecially in a busy, fast-paced job. A good strategy to avoid the perfectionism trap is always striving to just do your best and making time to congratulate yourself on your efforts. You may find that your results are better and youll be much less stressed at work.
How To Never Feel Stressed At Work Again
While acute, short-term stress may actually improve performance at work, chronic stressthat muted but ever-present anxiety brought on by thinking about a toxic boss or a laundry list of projectscan have damaging effects, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, and high blood pressure.
The bad news is that chronic work stress affects at least 70 percent of Americans. One survey found that eight in 10 employed Americans reported feeling stress at work due to factors such as increased workloads and inadequate compensation.
While we cant necessarily control our responsibilities, pay, or the people we interact with at work, we can control how we respond to these stressors by cultivating resilience.
The good news is we can prevent these numbers from growing. While we cant necessarily control our responsibilities, pay, or the people we interact with at work, we can control how we respond to these stressors by cultivating resilienceor the ability to adapt to stress in a healthy way by staying present, self-aware, and attending to ones own needs.
There are various practices we can integrate into our everyday routines that will allow us to better address our own needs, desires, and intentions in the workplace, and they all come down to one common theme: mindfulness.
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Procedure And Topic Guide
The topic guide was piloted on six employees who had experienced work stress. The content of these pilot interviews was used to refine the topic guide and to gain feedback from participants on clarity and appropriateness of the questions. Organisations were approached and invited to participate by e-mails containing information on the nature of the study and the data collection processes. Participation was voluntary the interviews were conducted face to face and, whenever possible, at the interviewee’s place of work. The interviews were semi-structured and lasted up to 45 minutes. The topic guide focused on factors that may cause stress and/or absence, personal experiences of and/or recommendations on managing stress at work and experiences of effective individual and organisational interventions to manage work-related stress .
Listen To Soothing Music
Listening to music can have a very relaxing effect on the body.
Slow-paced instrumental music can induce the relaxation response by helping lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as stress hormones.
Some types of classical, Celtic, Native American and Indian music can be particularly soothing, but simply listening to the music you enjoy is effective too .
Nature sounds can also be very calming. This is why theyre often incorporated into relaxation and meditation music.
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