Stress is a state of tension created when a person responds to the
demands and pressures that come from work, family and other external sources.
Stress can also be generated internally as a result of self-imposed demands,
obligations and self-criticism. Learn to get rid of the stress.
under continuous stress can cause physical and emotional problems that may
damage both your health and your capability to perform as an employee. It
does not stop there. If we allow it, stress and pressure will continue to
grow. Excessive worry is a major element in the vicious cycle of tension.
"It is impossible to shut down and not react to any situation because
life is stressful and there's always going to be some things that give us
stress," says Martin Kluger, a licensed psychologist who specializes in stress
management. "It's really a matter of learning how to relax our bodies when
we notice the stress is there."
Symptoms of stress differ from person
to person. Left unchecked, worry and continuous stress can lead to:
- Stress-tense muscles
- Reduced productivity
- Poor morale
- High employee turnover
- Family, alcohol and drug-related problems
Some employers are taking action to help reduce employee stress. Kluger
works with employee assistance programs where people go -- or are sent by
their boss -- to get help with stress.
"Over the years, there has
been more of a recognition that stress is a real problem and does cause deficiencies
in the work, so they [employers] figure if they help their employees to be
happier and reduce their stress, they will be more productive," Kluger says.
"The earlier that you can learn to deal with stress, the better off
you are going to be in the long run. You're going to prevent a lot of long-term
disease and illness and learn how to cope better with daily stress," Kluger
An unhealthy reaction to stress is like setting off a false
alarm. There is a natural alarm that goes off in our heads or stomachs when
we sense danger. It is a natural sense that helps us deal with danger.
When turned on, it produces a response called the fight or flight reaction.
This helps us to face the danger or flee it.
Rob Sarmiento, a psychologist
in private practice, explains that when you are in immediate physical danger,
it is appropriate to feel afraid. Getting your body charged up with adrenaline
may help to save your life. However, most of the time when we feel stressed,
there is no immediate physical danger, so the alarm is false.
fire alarm is sounding, but there is no fire!" says Sarmiento.
why is your danger alarm turned on when you don't need it? "It is mostly how
we talk to ourselves about what is happening that upsets us," says Sarmiento.
"For example, if you are anxious about a difficult task, you might be thinking
you will fail and that if you did, you would be a failure as a person."
help turn off your danger alarm, the following "reality check" questions,
provided by Sarmiento, can help. Whenever you feel upset -- anxious, stressed,
worried, depressed, angry, guilty, frustrated, embarrassed, insecure, jealous
-- answer the following questions:
- What am I doing to create this situation?
- Are my emotions helping me or hurting me?
- What are the facts?
- What am I telling myself?
- Am I exaggerating or distorting?
- How likely are my worries?
- Whose problem is this anyway?
- What is the worst that can happen?
- Am I taking this too seriously? Too personally?
- Am I unrealistically demanding success? Approval? Control? Perfection?
Certainty? Comfort? Fairness? My way?
- Am I stewing rather than doing?
- What are my options?
Based on your answers, you might think differently about the task,
as in this example, "I will probably do fine and even if I blow it, it is
not the end of the world." Such realistic thoughts will help you be happy
and motivated, not uptight and anxious, Sarmiento says.
Can we really
learn to deal with the stressful pressures of relationships in our daily lives?
Yes. But first there has to be something happening during these stressful
relationships that you feel a need to change. Learning different ways of thinking
can help you recognize actions and reactions that occur during even the most
basic communication between individuals.
So, how do you learn to manage
stress? There are two main ways: Learn how to turn off the alarm system through
various relaxation methods Learn how to not turn it on unconsciously in the
The following are some methods to try during or after
the next stressful event you find yourself facing. Remember, anything you
can do that is the opposite of what the alarm system does will tend to disarm
Deep breathing: Try taking deep, slow breaths rather than
the shallow, fast breaths we tend to take when stressed. This can help to
shut off the alarm -- the feeling of breathlessness.
Muscular relaxation: Tensing
and relaxing various muscle groups can work wonders. Try tensing your neck
and shoulders, your shoulder blades, your forehead and eyes for a few seconds,
then relaxing them. You can also combine this with deep breathing by inhaling
while you tense, then exhaling when you relax the muscles.
relaxation: Concentrate on relaxing your shoulders, then arms, then hands,
then fingers, all the way down to your toes.
Imagine a very peaceful scene, perhaps lying on the beach, floating in a fishing
boat on a lake, or whatever pleasant experience you can envision. It can be
a real place or an imaginary one. Try to feel and develop all your senses
as you imagine being in this peaceful relaxing place. For instance, what do
you see? What can you hear?
Our feelings and behaviors are largely
caused by our thoughts. Do not blame yourself entirely for self-defeating
thoughts. There are many contributing experiences we learn from while growing
up, some of which can lead to stress later in life.
Helen Joan O'Brien
is a specialized kinesiologist. She helps people deal with stress by finding
imbalances and tensions in the body through muscle tests and questioning.
She says that stress causes vary as much as people do. But whatever the cause,
stress should be dealt with as it can lead to serious health problems and
"Knowing what to say yes to and what to say
no to is important," O'Brien says. "Realize that perhaps sweeping the floor
may have to wait because sometimes we demand too much of ourselves. If you
can't do it, you can't do it. Realize that and be gentle with yourself."