Managing Job Stress: Strategies for Coping and Thriving at Work


Author:
K. Asha
Lecturer
Shirdi Sai Engineering College
Anekal

Co author:
Dr. G. Prabakaran
Professor & Head
Priyadharsini College of Engineering
Vanniyampaddi
 


Job stress is something we all face as workers -- and we all handle it differently. There is no getting around it. But, not all stress is bad, and learning how to deal with and manage stress is critical to our maximizing our job performance, staying safe on the job, and maintaining our physical and mental health. For workers infrequent doses of job stress pose little threat and may be effective in increasing motivation and productivity, but too much -- and too prolonged -- can lead to a downward spiral -- both professionally and personally.

Some jobs, by definition, tend to be higher stress -- such as ones that are in dangerous settings (fire, police), that deal with demanding customers (service providers), that have demanding time pressures (healthcare), and that have repetitive detailed work (manufacturing) -- but stress is not limited to any one particular job or industry.

Signs and symptoms of excessive workplace stress

  • Feeling anxious, irritable, or depressed
  • Apathy, loss of interest in work.
  • Problems sleeping
  • Fatigue,
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Muscle tension or headaches
  • Stomach problems
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope

Common causes of excessive workplace stress
  • Fear of layoffs
  • Increased demands for overtime due to staff cutbacks
  • Pressure to perform to meet rising expectations but with no increase in job satisfaction
  • Pressure to work at optimum levels all the time!

Learn how to manage job stress

There are a variety of steps you can take to reduce both your overall stress levels and the stress you find on the job and in the workplace. These include:

  • Taking responsibility for improving your physical and emotional well-being.
  • Avoiding pitfalls by identifying knee jerk habits and negative attitudes that add to the stress you experience at work.
  • Learning better communication skills to ease and improve your relationships with management and coworkers.

Reducing job stress by prioritizing and organizing

When job and workplace stress surrounds you, you can't ignore it, but there are simple steps you can take to regain control over yourself and the situation. Your growing sense of self-control will also be perceived by others as the strength it is, leading to better relationships at work. Here are some suggestions for reducing job stress by prioritizing and organizing your responsibilities.

Time management tips for reducing job stress

  • Create a balanced schedule. Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. All work and no play is a recipe for burnout. Try to find a balance between work and family life, social activities and solitary pursuits, daily responsibilities and downtime.
  • Don't over-commit yourself. Avoid scheduling things back-to-back or trying to fit too much into one day. All too often, we underestimate how long things will take. If you've got too much on your plate, distinguish between the "should" and the "musts." Drop tasks that aren't truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.
  • Try to leave earlier in the morning. Even 10-15 minutes can make the difference between frantically rushing to your desk and having time to ease into your day. Don't add to your stress levels by running late.
  • Plan regular breaks. Make sure to take short breaks throughout the day to sit back and clear your mind. Also try to get away from your desk for lunch. Stepping away from work to briefly relax and recharge will help you be more, not less, productive.

Task management tips for reducing job stress

  • Prioritize tasks. Make a list of tasks you have to do, and tackle them in order of importance. Do the high-priority items first. If you have something particularly unpleasant to do, get it over with early. The rest of your day will be more pleasant as a result.
  • Break projects into small steps. If a large project seems overwhelming, make a step-by-step plan. Focus on one manageable step at a time, rather than taking on everything at once.
  • Delegate responsibility. You don't have to do it all yourself, whether at home, school, or on the job. If other people can take care of the task, why not let them? Let go of the desire to control or oversee every little step. You'll be letting go of unnecessary stress in the process.

Reducing workplace stress by improving emotional intelligence

Even if you're in a job where the environment has grown increasingly stressful, you can retain a large measure of self-control and self-confidence by understanding and practicing emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage and use your emotions in positive and constructive ways. It's about communicating with others in ways that draw people to you, overcome differences, repair wounded feelings, and defuse tension and stress.

Emotional intelligence in the workplace:

Emotional intelligence in the workplace has four major components:

  • Self-awareness  The ability to recognize your emotions and their impact while using gut feelings to guide your decisions.
  • Self-management  The ability to control your emotions and behavior and adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Social awareness  The ability to sense, understand, and react to other's emotions and feel comfortable socially.
  • Relationship management  The ability to inspire, influence, and connect to others and manage conflict.

What managers or employers can do to reduce stress at work

It's in a manager's best interest to keep stress levels in the workplace to a minimum. Managers must act as positive role models, especially in times of high stress. All of the tips mentioned in this article are twice as important for managers to follow. If someone that we admire remains calm, it is much easier to remain calm ourselves and vice versa! There are also organizational changes that managers and employers can make to reduce workplace stress.

Improve communication

  • Share information with employees to reduce uncertainty about their jobs and futures.
  • Clearly define employees' roles and responsibilities.
  • Make communication  friendly and efficient, not mean-spirited or petty.

Consult your employees

  • Give workers opportunities to participate in decisions that affect their jobs.
  • Consult employees about scheduling and work rules.
  • Be sure the workload is suitable to employees' abilities and resources; avoid unrealistic deadlines.
  • Show that individual workers are valued.

Offer rewards and incentives

  • Praise good work performance verbally and institutionally.
  • Provide opportunities for career development.
  • Promote an "entrepreneurial" work climate that gives employees more control over their work.

Cultivate a friendly social climate

  • Provide opportunities for social interaction among employees.
  • Establish a zero-tolerance policy for harassment.
  • Make management actions consistent with organizational values.

References:

1. L[ttle Book of Stress management by Eddie Lester

2. Understanding stress and Coping by jonathan Smith

3. Stress Myth,Reasearch,Theory by Fiona Jones and Jim Bright

WWW.Google.com
 


Author:
K. Asha
Lecturer
Shirdi Sai Engineering College
Anekal

Co author:
Dr. G. Prabakaran
Professor & Head
Priyadharsini College of Engineering
Vanniyampaddi
 

Source: E-mail September 7, 2010

          

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