Manage workplace stress
An overview to help manage stress and conflict at work
Dr. Hans Selye, the father of stress theory, defined stress as "the non-specific response of the body to any demand made upon it." The "demand" can be a threat, a challenge or any kind of change, which requires the body to adapt. The response is automatic and immediate. Stress can be good, called "eustress", when it helps us perform better, or it can be bad, "distress", when it causes upset or makes us unwell.
The stress reaction results from an outpouring of adrenaline, a stimulant hormone, into the blood stream. This, together with other stress hormones, produces a number of changes in the body that are intended to be protective. The result often is called "the fight-or-flight response" because it provides the strength and energy to either fight or run away from danger.
Stress, or more specifically "distress", is the most common cause of ill health, probably underlying as many as 70% of all visits to family doctors. Manifestations of stress are numerous and varied but they generally fall into the following four categories:
Fatigue, headache, insomnia, muscle aches and stiffness particularly in the neck, shoulders and low back areas, heart palpitations, chest pains, abdominal cramps, nausea, trembling, cold extremities, flushing or sweating and frequent colds.
Decrease in concentration and memory, indecisiveness, mind racing, spasmodic memory loss, confusion, and loss of humour and libido.
Anxiety, nervousness, depression, anger, frustration, worry, fear, irritability, and impatience.
Pacing, fidgeting, nervous habits such as nail-biting and foot-tapping, increased eating, smoking, drinking, crying, yelling, swearing, blaming and aggressive behaviour such as throwing things or hitting out.
The causes of stress are again multiple and varied but they can be classified in two general groups, external and internal stresses. External stresses include sickness or death in a loved one, job loss, moving area or other people's behaviour. However, most of the stress we suffer is internal or self-generated. We create the majority of our own problems, thereby causing most of our own stress, and it is because of this that we can do something about it. We nearly always have a measure of choice and control we can exercise even when under extreme pressure.
To master and manage stress we have to change. To manage change successfully we have to analyse what we are doing that is contributing to our problem and focus on some, if not all, of the following elements:
- change our behaviour
- change our thinking/beliefs
- change our lifestyle and change our situation/environment
By dealing with the root cause of the stress we can both relieve current problems and symptoms and also prevent re-occurrence. As an example, parents who are frustrated over arguments with their children discover that the root cause of their upset is not because of the child's behaviour but because of their own unshared belief or unrealistic expectation. By modifying their own standards, the parents find the children's actions no longer cause them the anguish and stress that previously existed.
Simply complete this form
Please complete as much information as possible, we aim to reply within 48 hours. If you have an urgent enquiry please call us on 0161 4396625.