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Stress is a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or upset your
balance in some way. When you sense danger – whether it’s real or imagined – the body's
defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fightorflight!
reaction, or the stress response.
"he stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps
you stay focused, energetic, and alert. #n emergency situations, stress can save your life –
giving you e$tra strength to defend yourself, for e$ample, or spurring you to slam on the
brakes to avoid an accident.
"he stress response also helps you rise to meet challenges. Stress is what keeps you on
your toes during a presentation at work, or drives you to study for an e$am when you'd
rather be watching "%.
&ut beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing ma'or damage to
your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your (uality of life.
Distress is the most commonlyreferred to type of stress, having negative implications,
whereas eustress is a positive form of stress, usually related to desirable events in a
person's life. &oth can be e(ually ta$ing on the body, and are cumulative in nature,
depending on a person's way of adapting to a change that has caused it. "he body cannot
physically discern between distress or eustress.
Causes of stress
"he situations and pressures that cause stress are known as stressors. We usually think of
stressors as being negative, such as an e$hausting work schedule or a rocky relationship.
Workplace stress is the harmful physical and emotional response that occurs when there
is a poor match between 'ob demands and the capabilities, resources, or needs of the
Some e$amples that turn potential stress within the organi)ation into actual stress are
a. *ecession+down turn in the economy which may lead to temporary lay offs, 'ob
cutbacks and reduced pay ."echnological innovations which may also pose a threat
to 'ob.
b. Task demands are factors relating to an individual’s 'ob. "hey include the design of
the individuals 'ob , autonomy, task variety, degree of automation-, working conditions
and physical layout. .ssembly lines can put pressure on people when their speed is
perceived as e$cessive. "he more independence between a person’s tasks and the tasks
of others, the more stress there is. /obs where temperatures, noise or other working
conditions are dangerous or undesirable can increase an$iety. So, too, can working in an
overcrowded room in a visible location where interruptions are constant.
c.Role demands relate to pressures placed on a person as a function of the particular role
he or she plays in the organi)ation. *ole conflicts create e$pectations that may be hard to
reconcile or satisfy. *ole overload is e$perienced when the employee is e$pected to do
more than time permits. *ole ambiguity is created when role e$pectations are not clearly
understood and the employee is not sure what he or she is to do.
d.Interpersonal demands are pressures created by other employees. 0ack of social
support from colleagues and poor interpersonal relationships can cause considerable
stress, especially among employees with a high social need.
e. Organizational Structure this defined the degree of rules and regulations, and where
decisions are made. 1$cessive rules and lack of participation in decisions that affect an
employee might be potential sources of stress.
f. Organizational leadership represents the managerial style of the organi)ation’s senior
e$ecutives. Some chief e$ecutive officers create a culture characteri)ed with fear, tension
and an$iety. "hey establish unrealistic pressures to perform in the short run, impose
e$cessively tight controls, and routinely fire employees who don’t “measure up”
g. Indiidual factors
"he typical individual works about forty hours a week. "he e$periences and problems
that people encounter in those other 234 nonworking hours each week can spill over to
the 'ob. 5rimarily these factors are family issues, personal economic problems, and
inherent personality characteristics. 6ational statistics show that people hold family and
personal relationships dear. 7arital difficulties, the breaking off of a relationship, and
discipline troubles with children are e$amples of relationship problems that create stress
for employees and that aren’t left at the front door when they arrive at work.
Other !eneral Indiidual "auses of Stress #Stressors$.
5ositive events such as getting married, buying a house, going to college, or
receiving a promotion.
1veryday hassles – losing your wallet, getting stuck in traffic
"raumatic events which are usually outside the range of human e$perience like
natural disasters, catastrophic accidents etc.
8ncontrollable events.
9isruption of the circadian rhythm.
%lthough &e ma' beliee stressors are caused b' e(ternal factors) there
are also common internal causes of stress
. Stress can in fact also be self*generated+
• #nability to accept uncertainty
• 5essimism
• 6egative selftalk
• 8nrealistic e$pectations
• 5erfectionism
• 0ack of assertiveness
Top Ten Stressful ,ife -ents as indicated b' Rahe and .olmes.
2. Spouse’s death
3. 9ivorce
:. 7arriage separation
;. /ail term
<. 9eath of a close relative
=. #n'ury or illness
>. 7arriage
4. ?ired from 'ob
@. 7arriage reconciliation
2A. *etirement
SourceB Colmes*ahe 0ife Stress #nventory
Things that influence 'our stress tolerance leel
• /our support net&ork 0 . strong network of supportive friends and family
members is an enormous buffer against life’s stressors. Dn the flip side, the more
lonely and isolated you are, the greater your vulnerability to stress.
• /our sense of control – #f you have confidence in yourself and your ability to
influence events and persevere through challenges, it’s easier to take stress in
tride. 5eople who are vulnerable to stress tend to feel like things are out of their
• /our attitude and outlook 0 Stresshardy people have an optimistic attitude.
"hey tend to embrace challenges, have a strong sense of humor, accept that
change is a part of life, and believe in a higher power or purpose.
• /our abilit' to deal &ith 'our emotions. Eou’re e$tremely vulnerable to stress
if you don’t know how to calm and soothe yourself when you’re feeling sad,
angry, or afraid. "he ability to bring your emotions into balance helps you bounce
back from adversity.
• /our kno&ledge and preparation 0 "he more you know about a stressful
situation, including how long it will last and what to e$pect, the easier it is to
cope. ?or e$ample, if you go into surgery with a realistic picture of what to e$pect
postop, a painful recovery will be less traumatic than if you were e$pecting to
bounce back immediately.
• 1ersonalit' T'pe + "ype . behavior is characteri)ed by a feeling of a chronic
sense of time urgency and by an e$cessive competitive drive. . t'pe % individual
is aggressively involved in a chronic, incessant struggle to achieve more and more
in less and less time, and is re(uired to do so, against the opposing efforts of other
things or other persons. ,i.e. workaholicsF-
"hey are more to e$perience stress on and off the 'ob.
T'pe 2 "hey are the opposite of type ., they are rarely harried by the desire to obtain a
wildly increasing number of things or participate in an endlessly growing series
of events in an everdecreasing amount of time.