Monday, December 9, 2013

Managing Work Stress

I have had some stressful jobs in my past and each stressful in their own way. One was performance-based stressed and the other all based on interpersonal-stress. I’m sure everyone could tell a story about a job with a particular stressor.

Today’s fast-paced and high-pressure lifestyle often pushes us beyond our physical and mental limits. In urban cities and highly developed countries, it is not uncommon for lawyers to clock in 90 hours a week, doctors to work in 30 consecutive-hour shifts, and soldiers to go on days without proper sleep during missions. Even regular eight-hour shifters are not spared as they are often required to render overtime and forego their rest days during busy periods on a business. All of this causes enormous amounts of stress that result to health and relationship problems, further adding to the strain already felt in the first place.

This problem is further worsened by the prevailing culture which inspires admiration and offers rewards for those who disregard rest and relaxation to put in all the time they can spare and absorb tremendous pressure from bosses, colleagues and clients at work. As the popular saying goes, "The only difference between a diamond and a lump of coal is that the diamond had a little more pressure put on it." This sends a clear message that those who are not willing to go beyond what is increasingly becoming a ‘normal’ long task list and work hours are easily laid off or have fewer opportunities for career growth.

Still, we need to manage stress as all of us need to work to live comfortably and provide for our family. As any good soldier will tell you, in order to defeat the enemy, you must first get to know it well. Here are the different types of on-the-job stress and how to deal with each one:

·         Time stress. Impending deadline. Stuck in traffic and going late for an important meeting or presentation. Being too tired after work to spend quality time with the family. Time stress happens when you feel there aren’t enough hours in the day so you can do everything you need to do, and because of this you feel powerless, trapped, and unhappy.

How to manage it: Time management is an important skill you must develop so you can be productive not just during work, but when you get home and face your responsibilities there as well. Make a to-do list where your tasks are listed in order of priority. If possible, estimate how much time you will take up for each and stick to it. Put a small clock in your desk if necessary so you are aware of the passage of time. Clear up all non-essential apps and games on your PC. No gaming, posting or tweeting on the job! And don’t be tempted to use your smartphone either. Disable your Wi-Fi if needed so you can concentrate on the task at hand. You’ll have all the time to do these later during breaks and after work hours. If you feel like you’re frequently biting off more work than you can chew, learn to politely but firmly say “no”.

·         Anticipatory stress. This kind of stress happens when you worry too much about the future. It may either be concerned on a specific event such as an upcoming presentation, or a general sense of dread about the future when you feel your expectations will not be met or that you will fail.

How to manage it: Two words: positive thinking. Anticipatory stress is based on future events and because you do not have full control over what happens in the future, if you can’t help thinking about it at least think about it going positively. Create a scenario in your mind where you feel powerful and in control. Instead of fretting about the presentation turning into a mess, imagine you having a satisfied smile on your face as you finish and the people in front of you clapping or nodding in agreement. Create a contingency plan of every scenario where things can go wrong and how you will react it. If you feel you are well prepared to face an uncertain situation, the knowledge that you have planned for it well gives you confidence to face it.

·         Situational stress. This involves a situation where you feel you cannot control things, as in an emergency, calamity, conflict, diminished status or loss of acceptance from an important person or in a group you strongly identify with. Specific events include being in conflict with someone or making a major blunder during a group activity that caused the group’s performance to fail. Even witnessing people arguing in front of you already puts you in a situational stress.

How to manage it: Everyone reacts to this type of stress differently. Some may withdraw emotionally and cry in a corner. Others shout or act aggressively. However you choose to react, be aware of how you respond physically and emotionally to a stressor. If you tend to withdraw, learn how to think on your feet so you can communicate better and release the steam off. If you are the aggressive type, take stock of your emotions. Just before you’re about to “go over the edge” simply walk away from the situation and come back later with a cooler head. Stay in a quiet, relaxing room and take long, deep breaths.

·         Encounter stress. Dreading the meeting with top management or a client who doesn’t have a particularly good reputation? Encounter stress occurs when you worry about interacting with people you don’t like or think are unpredictable. This will also happen if you feel drained or overwhelmed from contact with so many people. Let’s face it, not everyone you meet on the job is open to what you do nor do they welcome the intrusion by unfamiliar faces.

How to manage it: Since this type of stress is entirely focused on how you relate to people, if it’s unavoidable in your job now would be the time to brush up on your people skills. Develop your emotional intelligence, or the ability to recognize the emotions and needs of others. Have empathy too. Put yourself in their shoes and ask: “what would I do if I were them?” A little more patience wouldn’t hurt as well, especially when dealing with crowds.

The problem with all this stress is the Cortisol our bodies produce when stress is consistently at an all-time high. Cortisol releases glucose, protein and fat into your bloodstream to give you energy to handle your stress. Your body stores this unused energy around the abdominal organs. This type of fat, known as visceral fat, is most damaging to your health and can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

CortiSLIM will help your body burn fat more efficiently, it will help you manage your stress effectively, and will help increase your metabolism allowing you to shed those unwanted pounds faster and get your body back on the right track. 

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