Work Stress Management

Christian A. Gallardo, MD

Why do we work?

• Work provides:
– Income – Fulfills a variety of other needs • Mental and physical exercise • Social contact • Feeling of self worth and competence

What is Work Stress?

Work Stress:
• “…the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of a job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker.” – Outcome: poor health and injury - NIOSH Publication No. 99 -101

Work Stress:
• “Stress is a reaction people have to pressure placed upon them and occurs when pressures exceed the individual’s ability to cope.”
- Health and Safety Executive

Work Stress
• A normal part of life • Has good and bad implications • Biological response to our environment • Flight or fight response • Physical and mental reactions

Factors Influencing Work Stress
• • • • • The drive for success Changing work patterns Working conditions Relationships at work Job Demands: workload and work paces

Factors Influencing Work Stress
• Poor Job Content: boredom, lack of meaning • Levels of job control, decision latitude • Organizational policies and procedures

Causes of Work Stress
• Individual and Situational Characteristics/ Worker Characteristics
– Personality – Coping Style – What is stressful for one may not be for another

Causes of Job Stress
• Work Characteristics/Working Conditions/Organizational factor
– Exposure to stressful work conditions (job stressor) can adversely and directly affect health and safety – Examples of job stress • Example workload • Environmental hazards • Pressure for increased productivity

Causes of Job Stress
• Environmental Factors
– Economic Uncertainty – Political Uncertainty – Technological Uncertainty

Work Stressors
• 1. Task Design
– Heavy workload, infrequent breaks, little or job control, long hours of work or shift work

Work Stressors
• 2. Management Style
– Lack of worker participation in decision making, poor communication, lack of family friendly policies

Work Stressors
• 3. Interpersonal Relationship
– Poor Social Environment, lack of support from co-workers or supervisors

Work Stressors
• Short Live or infrequent stressful situations pose little risk, if any at all • Continuous stress episodes may be damaging
– – – – Body is constantly on guard and activated Wear and tear to biological systems is faster Fatigue or damage results Repair and defense systems are compromised

Early Warning Signs of Work Stress
• • • • • • • Headache Sleep Disturbances Difficulty in concentrating Short Temper Upset Stomach Job Dissatisfaction Low Morals

Manifestation of Work Stress

Work Stress Prevention

Why Prevent Work Stress?
• In the USA more than half of the 550 million work days lost each year are stress-related.
-The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work

• In the UK, stress accounts for 6 million workdays lost annually
- Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

• Statistics Canada has calculated the cost of work time lost to stress at $12 billion a year

Why Prevent Work Stress?
• This loss is in terms of
– – – – Absenteeism Lost productivity Poor customer service Escalating short and long-term disability claims.

Why Prevent Work Stress?
• Healthcare expenditures are close to 50% greater for stressed workers compared to non-stressed workers. • Overall, stress in a business contributes to 19% absenteeism costs and 40% turnover costs.

Stress Management Strategies
• Individual Approach • Organizational Approach

Individual Approach

Self Help

Not all the stress we experience is generated at work!!

External Stresses – Major Life Events
• • • • • • • • • Death of a loved one Divorce/ Separation Imprisonment Injury / Illness Marriage/ Engagement Loss of Job Retirement Pregnancy Sexual Problems

External Stresses – Major Life Events
• Change in Financial Status • Change of Job/ Work • Mortgages or loans/ foreclosure of mortgages/ loans • Changes in responsibilities • Moving houses • Holidays, Christmas, etc. • Violation of the laws

Recognize the Problem
• The most important point is to recognize the source of the negative stress • This is not an admission of weakness or inability to cope! • It is a way to identify the problem and plan measures to overcome it.

Stress Control

A–B–C Strategy

ABC Strategy

A = Awareness
What causes your stress? How do you react?

ABC Strategy

B = Balance
There is a fine line between positive/ negative stress. How much can you cope with before it becomes negative?

ABC Strategy

C = Control
What can you do to help yourself combat the negative effects of stress?

Stress management Techniques
• Change your thinking • Change your behavior • Change your lifestyle

Change Your Thinking
• Re-framing • Positive Thinking

• Reframing is a technique to change the way you look at things in order to feel better about them. • There are many ways to interpret a situation and it is up to us to choose how we deal with it. • Re-framing does not change the external reality, but helps you view things in a different light and less stressfully.

Positive Thinking
• Forget powerlessness, dejection, despair, failure • Stress leaves us vulnerable to negative suggestion so focus on positives • Focus on your strengths • Learn from the stress you are under • Look for opportunities • Seek out the positive – make a change

Change Your Behavior
• • • • • Be Assertive Get Organized Ventilation Humour Diversion and Distraction

Be Assertive
• Assertiveness helps to maintain to manage stressful situations, and will, in time, help to reduce their frequency • Lack of assertiveness often shows low selfesteem and low self – confidence.

Be Assertive
• The key to assertiveness is verbal and non- verbal communication • Extending our range of communication skills will improve our assertiveness

Equality and Basic Rights
• • • • • • The right to express my feelings The right to express opinions/ beliefs The right to say ‘Yes/No’ for yourself The right to change your mind The right to say ‘I don’t understand’ The right to be yourself, not acting for benefit of others

Equality and Basic Rights
• The right to decline responsibility for other people’s problems • The right to make reasonable request of others • The right to set own priorities • The right to be listened to and taken seriously

Being Assertive
• Being assertive involves standing up for your personal rights and expressing your thoughts, feelings and beliefs directly, honestly and spontaneously in ways that don’t infringe the rights of others

Assertive People
• Respect themselves and others • Take responsibility for actions and choices • Ask openly for what they want • Disappointed if want denied • Self- confidence remains intact • Not reliant on the approval of others

Assertive Skills
• Establish good eye contact / don’t stare • Stand or sit comfortably – don’t fidget • Talk in a firm, steady voice • Use body language • ‘I think/ I feel’ • ‘What do you think?’ ‘ How do you feel?’ • Concise and to the point

• • • • High self-esteem Less self-conscious Less anxious Manage stress more successfully • Appreciate yourself and others more easily • Feeling of self control

Get Organized
• Poor organization is one of the most common causes of stress • Structured approaches offer security against ‘out of the blue’ problems • Prioritizing objectives, duties and activities makes them manageable and achievable • Don’t overload your mind • Organization will help avoid personal and professional chaos

Time Management
• • • • • • • Make a list What must be done What should be done What would you like to do Cut out time wasting Learn to drop unimportant activities Say no or delegate

Time Management
• Plan your day • Set achievable goals • Don’t waste time making excuses for not doing something

• “A problem shared is a problem halved.”
– Develop a support network through friends or colleagues to talk with. It’s not always events that are stressful but how we perceive them. – Writing a diary or notes may help release feelings but do not re-read what has been written

• • • • • Good stress – reducer Applies at home and work Relieves muscular tension Improves breathing Pumps endorphins into the bloodstream – the body’s natural painkillers

Diversion and Distractions
• Take time out • Get away from things that bother you
– Doesn’t solve the problem

• Reduce stress levels • Calm down • Think logically

Change Your Lifestyle
• • • • • Diet Smoking and Alcohol Exercise Leisure Relaxation


Smoking and Alcohol

Exercise, Sleep and Leisure

• Uses up excess energy released by the ‘Fight and Flight’ reaction • Improves blood circulation • Lowers blood pressure • Clears the mind of worrying thoughts • Improves self image • Makes you feel better about yourself • Increase social contact

• Good stress reducer • Difficult to cope when tired • Wake refreshed after nights sleep • Plenty of daytime energy

• Interest • Gives you a ‘break’ from stresses • Provides outlet for relief • Provides social contact

Benefits of Relaxation
• • • • • Lowers blood pressure Combats fatigue Promotes sleep Reduces pain Eases muscle tension

Benefits of Relaxation
• Decreases mental worries • Increases concentration • Increases productivity • Increases clear thinking

• • • • • • • Counseling and Psychotherapy Relaxation Meditation Massage Yoga Acupuncture Aromatherapy

• • • • • • • Herbalism Biofeedback Homeopathy Hypnotherapy Osteopathy Pet Therapy Reflexology

How We Deal With Stress
• Negative Copers
– – – – – Smoking Drinking Illegal Drugs Blaming others Other self destructive behaviors

• Positive Copers
– – – – – Exercising Support groups Yoga Meditation Good Eating Habits – Changing a negative attitude

In Summary:
• Stress can be a major factor in our ability to cope with our working life. It is often thought of in a negative way as something to be avoided, something harmful, but stress cannot always be avoided and its effects are harmful only when it is handled badly.

Thank You.

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