Stress is defined as an individual’s cause of mental and emotional strain. In today’s society, stress and work are commonly associated with each other. Different work environments and people show similarities and differences for personal work related stress. Work has demands that can cause stressors in the areas of task, physical, role, and interpersonal. Overcoming stressors from work can be possible if time management is used.
Stress is the response that the body has to mental, physicals, and emotional strain. People can have different stress reactions and according to Margaret Harris, “stress is difficult for scientists to define because it is a subjective sensation associated with varied symptoms that differ for [each person]” (Harris 1). Stressors affect each person differently and no two people experience the same stressors and stress responses. Doctor Mona Kular disagrees with this. She says that, “…a ‘stressor’ stimulates the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline, preparing the body for the ‘fight or flight’ response. Blood supply is diverted to relevant organs…while energy expenditure on non-essential processes…is reduced” (1). These two definitions of stress are different, but at the heart stress is a person’s negative reaction to stressors around them. Stress effect’s people in their everyday life and can manifest itself in physical symptoms.
Stress is shown in many physical symptoms in the areas of task, physical, role, and interpersonal. Task related stress comes from having to make quick and critical decisions without a lot of information. When a person experiences task related stress it is because they are having difficulty making decisions. Physical stress comes from hard physical demands such as uncomfortable work environments and work related health threats. Working in labor-intensive jobs, like roof installation, causes a lot of stress related to physical demand. Role demands can also cause stress. Role demands include the pressure associated with being a new employee and role conflicts within an organization. When a person is unsure about their role in an organization it can cause stress. Interpersonal demands such as conflicting personalities, leadership problems, and pressures associated with groups and teams can also causes stress. Interpersonal stress is a more complex form of stress (Griffin 274). All of these factors and causes of stress occur in organized work environments and at some point all people will encounter these demands in the work environment.
There are many physical symptoms that are associated with stress in the work environment. Some of these effect the work done while others effect the worker. Some consider the effect on work performance to be the biggest problem. This includes, “…decreased productivity, which may be due to poor timekeeping, missed deadlines, poor decision-making or even errors
There are more deep reactions to stress that go beyond poor work performance. There are four stages of stress, overwork, frustration, resentment and burnout. The final, deepest of these stages is called burnout (Griffin 274). Burnout occurs when a person has been constantly been under negative impact of stressors for a long period of time. Burnout does not occur suddenly, it happens over a long period of time where stress builds up and has harmful reactions to a person’s physical and mental welling being. The first warning sign of burnout is overwork. When an employee is overworked they begin to have physical problems, like headaches, pain, and lack of sleep. The next stage of stress is frustration, where a person becomes upset by their physical symptoms. The third stage is resentment, when a person becomes so angry about their stress that they begin to blame themselves and others for all the bad things that are happening in their life. The fourth and final stage is burnout. A person experiences burnout when they undergo deep depression as a result of stress. Burnout is, “…emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and a reduced sense of personal accomplishment” (Kular 1). Burnout is dangerous because it can lead to harmful practices like drug, alcohol, and gambling addictions. It is important to stop the work related stress levels before they reach the harmful level of burnout.
Stress causes a lot of problems for people, businesses and the workforce. Stress causes employees to call in to work and pretend to be sick. Many employees would rather take a day off to ignore their stressors. One study showed that, “Twenty-eight percent [of those surveyed] said they believe more employees are calling in with phony excuses due to increased stress and burnout caused by the recession”(Institute of Management and Administration 1). The recent decline in the economy has caused more work related stress due to the fear of job loss or being laid off. There are other studies that have shown that stress causes negative things for any business or employer. For example, “studies show that stressful working conditions are actually associated with increased absenteeism, tardiness, and intentions by workers to quit their jobs — all of which have a negative effect on the bottom line” (Tonn 1). People who are stressed out are less productive, call into work frequently, and show up late all in an effort to avoid their stressors. This hurts any organization and the stress rubs off on other employees. One employee who is under stress can snap at others and cause others to be stressed out. This makes stress contagious among all employees. Stress can easily pass drown the chain of command from supervisor to subordinate and, “if the boss is irritable, abrasive or has a negative attitude when interacting with an employee, then… they, too, in turn, are unproductive for the rest of the day” (Tonn 1). Stress goes from one employee to the next like a disease and soon it impacts all areas of an organization. The lost productivity that results from stress can cause companies to loose large amounts of money each year. Stress costs businesses money and in recent years they have started to do something about it. Businesses have begun to take proactive measures to prevent employees from being stressed out. Many businesses offer discounts to health spas, gyms, or message parlors. They have even started to form employee committees that are in charge of organizing fun and relaxing exercises for employees, such as yoga groups or company retreats. By being proactive and trying to stop employee burnout lots of companies have been able to save money and prevent the loss of productivity.
Not all organizations offer relaxation programs and workers have to take stress management into their own hands. By successfully managing stress a worker can avoid work related burnout.One of the best ways to prevents or reduce stress is to have good time management skills. People who have poor time management skills usually have more stress then people will good time management skills. When you can calculate how long something will take, and in what order things have to be done in then you can set up a timetable for your day. Another important thing is to have realistic goals and expectations. If you give yourself only a short amount of time to do a complex task then you will feel rushed and be unable to complete the task. This can cause feelings of failure and frustration. Giving yourself plenty of time to do tasks reduces that amount of stress that you have. Procrastination can also cause stress so starting a project or task early can also prevent stress.
Getting plenty of sleep in another way to prevent stress. Sleep recharges the body both physically and mentally. Running on low amounts of sleep and add to stress and make a person too tired to deal with problems and situations as they normally would. Having a consistent sleep pattern with at least 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night can make a big difference in how stressed you feel. One thing that can interrupt or prevent sleep is caffeine. This is because, caffeine stimulates a ‘stress response’, causing reduced sleep, increased anxiety and depleted energy levels”(Kular 1). Caffeine disrupts normal sleep and can cause loss of energy and can increase anxiety and stress. Many people use coffee, tea, soda, or energy drinks in order to replace sleep. Caffeine is not a substitute for sleep and it only causes more problems.
Another way to deal with stress is to get plenty of exercise. It is recommended that the average person should engage in, “at least half an hour of aerobic activity three times a week” (Kular 1). Being active releases tension, increases metabolism, helps the immune system, sends blood to the brain, and releases pent up energy. Exercise time is both good for the body and the mind because it offers an escape from stressors and gives people healthy goals to achieve. Being in better physical condition reduces the risk or contacting common illnesses or having heart problems. Heart attacks are commonly caused by stress and burnout in the workplace. People who exercise regularly can set goals from themselves in the gym and take those goal-setting skills to the work place. They gain confidence, have reduced tension, and feel better both physically and mentally.
People of all occupations and all ages can suffer from stress. Recently 8 people who work full time jobs were questioned about their occupations and the stress that they encountered because of their work. They were all asked how old they were, what their position is, what their job entails, when kind of stressors they have, and how they deal with stress. There were many similarities among them, and there were a few differences as well.
One of the biggest differences was that the ages of the people questioned varied. There were 2 people between the ages of 18 and 34, 4 people between the ages of 35 and 54 and 1 person between the ages of 55 to 64. This is a very large age range, and they types of work that each person did were varied, based on their age. The younger people tended to have more physical labor involved in their work and their stress affected them in more negative ways. The older people tended to have desk jobs or higher positions within their jobs. A common reason for stress among most of the people was that dealing with customers or other employees caused them a lot of stress. Having to interact with others is a part of everyday life but it appears to be a common source of stress. Another common source of stress was long hours. Working constantly can wear down a person and it makes sense that long hours would be a big stressor for people.
The way that stress manifested in each person, and how it effected each person was different. Most people had some sort of eating problem. Three people said that stress lead them to over eat, while two other people said it caused then to eat less then they should. Problems with eating effected people of all ages and education levels. One person described having depression, which is a sign of burnout. Two people had poor sleeping patterns. These two were older adults who had stressful jobs that had a lot of responsibility and that had long hours (in one case being on call for extended amounts of time). Long hours affected their sleeping patterns. One person also said that they got migraines because of stress.
There were many different ways in that people dealt with their stress. Three people used exercise as a way to relieve their stress (two people were members of a gym and 1 person exercised in the form of walks). All three of these people said that they had stressful jobs that involved frequently interacting with others. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and all 3 of these people said that exercise helped them to get rid of their stress. Some people dealt with their stress in negative ways. Jim uses gambling as an outlet, and Debbie drinks at bars. Both of these activities are not the best ways to deal with stress. Gambling and drinking alcohol in excess can lead to addiction and other negative outcomes. These things can be dangerous, and are poor ways to deal with stress. They only cover up the problems, and do not solve them. Kathy said she had a glass of wine while reading but this does not seem to be as extreme as the other two. Richard said that he was frequently absent from work and took long breaks or vacations to relieve his stress. This is also a poor way to deal with stress because it hurts productivity in his organization. Avoiding work does not get rid of the stressors; it only causes a person to run away from their problems. Because of this his workplace suffers a lack of productivity. There was one person who used religion to manage their stress; this was a unique idea that no one else shared.
The people who dealt with their stress was in negative ways should look for alternative ways to relieve tension. Jim for example, used gambling as a way to cope with stress. This is a poor way to cope with stress. He would do better to try and get some more sleep, meditate, or engage in some exercise in an effort to reduce that amount of stress that he had. Debbie went to bars with friends to drink and dance, which is also not the best way to deal with stress. She would be better off trying to exercise regularly or participate in some relaxation techniques (like yoga or breathing exercises). Richard’s way of dealing with stress was to avoid his work by taking long beaks and not showing up for work. A better way for him to deal with stress would be for him to join a gym, or find a relaxing hobby like reading. Finding good, and constructive ways to deal with stress is an important part of learning to be a successful worker in any environment and any job.
Based on research and the results of the questionnaire it is clear that poor time management skills are one of the main reasons that people get stressed out. Struggling to meet deadlines causes a significant amount of stress on people. Those who met their deadlines on time or late had the most stress factors. Those who finished after the deadline also admitted that they had poor time management skills. If you cannot effectively organize your tasks you can run into problems with not being able finish things on time. The thought of finishing late and thinking about the repercussions can also be stressful. People who dwell on the consequences of finishing late send more time thinking about what will happen to them rather then actually working on the task. One of the best ways to prevent this type of stress is to manage time effectively. Time management includes learning to prioritize things from what has to be done first, to what has to be done next, and then to things that can wait until much later. Putting things in order of importance is one of the best ways to manage time and resources. Without these time management skills, tasks can take much longer then needed. All in all god time management can lead to a less stressful life.
I deal with stress in many constructive and positive ways. One of my favorite ways to deal with stress is to go to the gym and work out. I enjoy doing this because it keeps me in good mental and physical shape. I like to set personal goals for myself at the gym. When I reach these goals I get a mental boost of confidence that makes me feel better about myself. These boosts help me to maintain a positive attitude throughout the day. Going to the gym also helps me to feel more energized and ready to handle difficult problems in school or at work. If I can tackle a hurtle at the gym I can tackle a hurtle at work or at school. I also like to do relaxing activities, such as reading. Reading is a nice calm way to relax at the end of the day. Reading is also a mental stimulator what helps with concentration and focus in everyday life. Finally, I like to engage in breathing exercises to help me relax. Breathing helps me focus and the best part about breathing exercises is that I can do them anyplace at anytime. Combining all three of these techniques helps me to appropriately, and effectively manage my daily stress factors.