Stress management tips and strategies

Stress management tips and strategies

Evelyn Sikorski

Job stress is something we all face as workers, and we all handle it differently. Not all stress is bad, and learning how to deal with and manage stress is critical to maximizing our job performance, staying safe on the job, and maintaining our physical health and well-being. The following article provides effective strategies and resources to help you and your family balance the challenges of everyday home and work stress.

Rest, Relaxation and Sleep

When people feel pressure at work they often work extra hours, cancel vacations, and cut back on sleep. Ironically, these are all the wrong things to do.

Enjoying leisure time and getting enough rest are critical to decrease stress on or off the job. Getting enough sleep is the most beneficial thing to do to overcome stress, yet few working people get the recommended 8 hours of sleep a night that they need to maintain proper energy and concentration levels.

Make sure you get enough sleep. If you have become used to being tired all the time, you will be amazed by how sharp and energetic you will feel once you start sleeping normally.

How to Identify and Deal with Stress

Stress is unique to each of us. What’s relaxing to one person may be stressful to another. The key to stress reduction is identifying strategies that fit you as an individual. While we often think of stress as the result of external events, the events themselves are not necessarily stressful. It is the way in which each person interprets and reacts to an event that produces stress.

There are four categories of stress signals: thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and physical sensations. When you are under stress you may experience:

Feelings:

* Anxiety,

* Irritability,

* Fear,

* Anger,

* Moodiness

Thoughts:

* Self-criticism,

* Difficulty concentrating or making decisions,

* Forgetfulness or mental disorganization,

* Preoccupation with the future,

* Repetitive thoughts,

* Fear of failure

Behaviors:

* Crying,

* Acting impulsively,

* Nervous laughter,

* “Snapping” at friends,

* Teeth grinding or jaw clenching,

* Smoking, alcohol or drug use,

* Being accident prone,

* Increased or decreased appetite

Physical Sensations:

* Headaches,

* Tight muscles,

* Cold or sweaty hands,

* Back or neck problems,

* Difficulty sleeping,

* Stomach aches,

* More colds or infections,

* Fatigue,

* Rapid breathing or pounding heart,

* Trembling

There are many ways to manage unhealthy stress in your life. As you begin to understand more about how stress affects you, you will develop your own ideas to help relieve tension. Here are some suggestions to manage stress:

Deep Breathe–Stress often makes us breathe shallowly which means you are getting less oxygen in your body. When you feel “uptight” take a minute to take some deep breaths–in through your nose and out through your mouth. It works!

Manage Time–Over commitment or poor time management can be stressful. Make a reasonable schedule for yourself and avoid overwork.

Get Physical–Prevent or reduce the effects of stress by engaging in physical activity. Running, walking, hiking, biking, or swimming are some of the many options for releasing stress.

Avoid Self Medication–Alcohol and other drugs do not relieve stress. In fact, being “under the influence” increases stress.

You need stress in your life! “Good stress” adds flavor, challenge and opportunity to life. Without stress, life would be dull and unexciting. But not all stress is good! Too much stress can seriously affect your physical and mental well-being. Find the optimal level of stress that you can manage!

Co-submitted by Evelyn Sikorski, CSW and Krista Malaney, Wellness Fletcher Allen Health Care Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) and Wellness Program

COPYRIGHT 2007 Vermont State Nurses Association, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning