Stress Management (Managing Stress)
Management of stress is everyone’s compulsory task because stressors are an unavoidable part of life. Coping with stress can mean escaping from the problem or confronting and taking steps to prevent the stressor from bothering again and again.
Coping can direct the fight or flight response, where the individual chooses to either repel the challenge or avoid it, solve the problem, or mentally distancing from it. If the stress is can not be eliminated by changing or ignoring the situation, then the only option is learn to how to manage stress. Several different strategies have been developed to help manage stress at the workplace, or in personal emotional life situations. Broadly, managing stress can be divided into 2 broad categories.
- Individual Approaches
- Organizational Approaches
Individual Approaches To Stress Management
People should take responsibility for their own well-being. There are techniques that can be used by individuals to help combat stress. Several individual strategies for stress management can be taken, some of which are listed below:
- Physical exercise
- Managing routine/ time schedules
- Social support network
- Cognitive therapy
Physical exercise is one of the commonly used methods to manage stress. People who regularly exercise are active, optimistic, less likely to feel tension, and more confident than people who do not exercise regularly. Different forms of exercise exist, such as walking, jogging, swimming, riding bicycles, or playing different outdoor and indoor games. These exercises help the individual cope better with stress because these activities let the person take his or her mind off from the stress work. Exercising also increases the heart’s capacity and enhances self-esteem. People who exercise regularly are less likely to have heart attacks than inactive people.
Sometimes a healthy balanced diet and a glass of cold water are helpful to reduce tensions. Nutritions food materials containing enough calories (e.g. protein, vitamins, other minerals) help to fight against the unhealthy physical symptom develop resistance and immunity power. Healthy habits of sanitation, sense of humor, attention to symptoms, and taking measures to prevent assist to act again stressors.
Relaxation and Sleep
Relaxation effectively provides both mental and physical relief from a stressful situation. Relaxation can take different forms as taking regular vacations, regular rest breaks during working days, or sitting quietly with eyes closed for 10 to 15 minutes every day.
Relaxation techniques of stress management involve relaxing the muscles that are sensitive when an individual feels stressed until the individual achieves a state of complete relaxation. Avoidance of caffeine, alcohol, and smoking can enhance sleep and relaxation. Other techniques that are sometimes used to facilitate complete relaxation include meditation, biofeedback, aerobic exercise, hypnosis, and sleep.
Meditation: Meditation involves muscles and mental relaxation as the person slowly repeats a peaceful phrase, or “mantra” or word, or concentrates on a mental picture in a quiet setting. Deeper meditation has a positive impact on both an individual’s physical and mental health. The key components of the meditation procedure for relaxation are as follows:
- Find a calm and quiet environment and sit in a comfortable position. The quiet environment enhances the ability to relax. Once the skill of meditation is well developed, it can be easily carried out even in distracting environments.
- Use a mental device, silently repeating the sound (Om), a word, or a prayer, called a mantra, over and over. Repeating the mental device in tune with the rhythm of breathing (inhaling and exhaling) helps to divert attention from the surrounding. Many mediators report that they feel refreshed after meditating, reducing their arousal.
- Adopt a passive attitude. Relaxation is not like a competitive sport, and neither does it involves complexities. Meditation should be carried out calmly, as trying hard may do more harm than good. One should adopt a “let it happen” attitude. When a distracting thought enters the mind, repeat, a mental device. Relaxation helps to produce alpha waves, it slows breathing, heart rate, and helps to decrease blood pressure.
Biofeedback System: Biofeedback system of recording, amplifying, and getting feedback about subtle physiological responses. For example, a sensor record tension in the forehead muscles of a headache sufferer. A computer processes this physiological information and instantly feeds it back to the person in some easily understood signal or tone, which causes the person to relax the forehead muscle. The patient’s task is to learn to control the pointer or tone and thereby learn to control the tension in the forehead muscle. By controlling the muscles, the patients can control the accompanying headache. The biofeedback system allows people to learn to increase their production of alpha brain waves, warm their hands, and lower their blood pressure. All these signs are indications of a more relaxed state.
Aerobic Exercise: Aerobic exercise is a kind of exercise that increases the person’s heart and lung fitness. This type of exercise strengthens the body, boosts self-confidence and spirit, thereby decreasing stress, depression, and anxiety. Researchers have found that aerobic exercise strengthens the heart, increases blood volume, and lowers both blood pressures and stress. It enhances internal mood-boosting neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and endorphins.
Hypnosis: Hypnosis is an artificially induced trance state accompanied by heightened suggestibility. It is a type of social interaction in which one person, usually the hypnotist, suggests to the patient that certain perceptions, feelings, thoughts, or behavior will spontaneously occur. Hypnosis suggests dissociation of sensation of the pain stimulus from the levels of consciousness. Hypnosis distracts the attention of people away from the stress and the person feels painless.
Enough Sleep: Sleeping habits vary from Individual to individual. It is one of the most used methods of stress management. Sleep is needed more during times of stress than when life is running smoothly. Enough sleep or deep relaxation for 15 to 20 minutes a day helps reduce tensions, irritations, and other physiological and psychological disorders. It helps the individual to go away from problems sometimes to think it with freshness. Sleep complications may lead to insomnia, hypersomnias (excessive daytime sleepiness), and while complete sleep deprivation for few days can result in death.
Individuals should control the situation and times instead of letting the situation or time control them. Many daily pressures are eliminated if the individuals manage time effectively according to his or her schedule. Some of the popular approaches used to manage time are,
- Making a daily list of activities to be accomplished
- Prioritizing activities by importance and urgency
- Scheduling activities according to the priorities set, and
- Knowing the daily cycle and handling the most demanding parts of the job during the high part of the cycle when the individual feels most alert and productive.
Social Support Network
By creating a close association with family members, friends, coworkers, and colleagues who are good listeners, and advisors, an individual can act more effectively in a stressful situation. Social support can play an important role in reducing the possible negative side effects of major stressful life events, and reduce the influence of daily hassles. Studies show that people with few social ties had the highest death rates, whereas people with the most social ties had the lowest death rates.
Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy
Stress can also be relieved through different behavior and cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy assumes that people are disturbed by the way they interpret events. Therefore, the goal of cognitive therapy is to change clients’ maladaptive thoughts and irrational beliefs. Cognitive therapies such as Albert Ellis’s (1993) Rational emotional therapy and Aaron Beck’s (1979) cognitive therapy are quite successful in eliminating anxiety disorders, depression, and stress-related problems.
Behavioral therapists view maladaptive behavior are learned and rely on classical and operant conditioning to teach the client new behavior. Behavioral therapists like desensitization, aversion, modeling, extinction, token economy have been successfully used to reduce stress.
Organizational Approach For Stress Management
There is a growing feeling that organizations should be involved in managing the stress of their employees. Techniques and approaches have been developed by the organization for the stress management of employees. The basic organizational strategies for helping employees manage stress are related to task demand, role demand, and organizational structures. The strategies may organization undertake to reduce stressors for the employees may include:
Improved Personnel Selection and Job Placement
Organizations should be highly formal with their structure and more decentralized with participation in decision making and giving more responsibilities to its employees. The management should create a more supportive climate by selecting the right individuals for the right jobs, matching employees’ contribution with the inducement the organization offer reduces stress. This will enhance the employee’s control over regular activities in their jobs, and finally prevent their job stress.
Training is the deliberate and planned process by which employees are exposed to new learning experiences designed to teach new skills and improve the employee’s performance. Usually, training is designed to familiarize the new employees with the company’s procedures, policies, and equipment. A complex job requires frequent intensive training to help keep the employees up-to-date.
Use of Realistic Goal Setting
The goal-setting theory proposes that managers should establish specific difficult, but attainable goals for employees in order to enhance their performance and reduce tension. The management should not impose a vague goal for the employees to achieve. Instead, the management should provide the employees with feedback on their work performance and evaluate the outcome.
Redesigning of Job
To enhance the performance and reduce stress for the employees, the management should enrich tasks, thereby eliminating the stressors found in a more routine structured job. A task can be enriched in several ways, giving responsibility, recognition, opportunity, enhancing skills, autonomy, feedback, etc. Redesigning monotonous jobs leads to a sense of meaningfulness and purpose, which will help the employees cope with routine job stress.
Increased Employee Involvement
Role conflict and ambiguity are major organizational stressors. In order to minimize the stress from these sources, each job should have a clear set of expectations and necessary information related such as job responsibility, duties, and evaluation techniques. By clarifying the organizational roles, the management will help to enhance job performance and control job stress.
Improved Organizational Communication
Differences in information between the source and the receiver can cause communication problems in the organization. An effective organizational communication system provides the right information to the right people at the right time and in the right form. Organizations should follow formal communication strategies in order to avoid uncertainty and ambiguous situations. Clear communications enhance and shape the perceptions of the employees, reducing unnecessary demands, threats, and finally stress.
Providing Employees Sabbaticals
The management should anticipate facing complications regarding an employee’s passive or tardy attitude and should plan to provide voluntary leaves. The voluntary leave solution is an emerging new technique that allows employees to travel, relax, or engage in personal interesting activities for time periods ranging from a few weeks to several months. An occasional escape from the regular job work rejuvenates a burnt-out worker with new zeal and enthusiasm when he or she returns to work.
Wellness programs are designed by the organization to keep its workers in good physical, mental, and social health. Organizations should adopt stress management programs, health promotion programs such as quit smoking, control alcohol use and help obese workers lose weight, eat better and develop a regular exercise program.