Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Stress management

I was asked for some resources about stress management in the workplace, and I had to think for a while about how best to present them. I could just give a list of links and leave the reader to it. But I don't think that would be fair for a variety of reasons.

Stress management is quite a difficult area for getting the balance right. On the one hand, everybody has some stress in their lives, and it's fatally easy to start concentrating on stress instead of concentrating on the job. On the other hand, it's also fatally easy to ignore somebody's complaints, or somebody's depressed demeanour because everybody has stress in their lives, etc, etc.

There has been some interesting work done on counselling in organisations like emergency services. When a crisis happens, it has become standard practice in many places for counselling to be offered to those, like police officers and paramedics, who dealt with it. Evidence shows that many people are better off without counselling. Counselling after a traumatic event can make them relive events that their mind is healthily working at forgetting. On the other hand, many people need, or at least can benefit from counselling after such an event. So it's right that employers should offer it. But, when somebody says, “No, I don't want counselling”, the trick is to know when to accept that, and when to press them to change their minds.

It's also tricky because stress can be good for you. Every performer and athlete knows that a certain amount of stress before an event can help to get the best out of you. Each person has their own level at which helpful stress turns into unhelpful stress, so the key lesson here is to know yourself. Observe when you feel good and when you feel bad. Get used to it, and you will predict it better and be able to react better to your circumstances.

Another factor is that reactions to stress are usually intensely physical. Often your best strategy when stressed is to go for a walk. It gets you out of the situation, and it deals with the chemicals that your reaction to stress has produced in your body. You will get to know for yourself whether, for best effect, your walk need to be a long or a short one, a hard, pumping, sweaty walk, or a gentle stroll – everybody's different.

For some more detailed ideas about what to do, go to:
"Stress Management: How to Reduce, prevent, and Cope with Stress".

If you Google “stress management”, you will find lots of alternatives. This is one of the best I've found.

There is also: “A Useful Approach to Stress Management”, which goes in to how to manage stress within a working team. It's a slightly odd resource because the pages look as if they're supposed to be passworded. If you can't get into it, it will be because they've finally figured that out. While it's there, use it – there are a lot of good pages there.

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