Over the past few decades, many people are hearing more about job related stress. With many households depending on duel incomes, people are working more and having less leisure time. Many claim that job stress has contributed to such illnesses as heart disease, depression, gastric problems, exhaustion, and many other related illnesses. This paper will focus on the background issues surrounding stress; as well as, the steps that need to be taken by one’s self and the employer.
According to The Random House Dictionary, stress is defined as ‘physical, mental, or emotional tension. ; Job tress occurs when demands are imposed upon the workers in which they can not meet those demands, or when there are not enough adequate supplies or information available for the employee to perform their job as required (Paine, 1982, pg. 68). In the book The Overworked American, author Juliet Schor (1991) reports that 30 percent of adults have reported experiencing high levels of stress on a daily basis. There is an even higher percentage of adults who have claimed to have high levels of stress at least once or twice a week.
In 1965, only a quarter of the population reported that they are rushed to get things done resulting in high stress evels. Today, that number has increased to one-third of the American population claiming they are rushed on a daily basis (Schor, 1991, p. 11). Prolonged severe stress can cause emotional depression, the exhaustion stage is not depression, but a physical process. Long-lasting excessive stress can cause a variety of physical illnesses. Among them: high blood pressure, ulcers, colitis, arthritis, diabetes, stoke, and heart attack.
The same type and level of stress can effect individuals differently. It depends on the person’s physical condition (age, sex, genetic predisposition) and on ertain external factors (diet, or treatment with certain drugs or hormones) as to the physical or emotional suffering that will occur. The weakest link in a chain breaks down under stress, even though all parts are equally exposed to it (Bensahel, Goodloe, and Kelly, 1984, p. 130). Illnesses that derive from stress usually develop slowly, without the individual being clearly aware of what is happening.
Guidelines were developed by Robert J. Ban Amberg, a practicing psychiatrist in Montclair, New Jersey to help individuals measure their own reactions to stress and to help managers know when they are under stress. These guidelines were developed into six stages with stress symptoms becoming worse at each stage. Sometimes, the stress symptoms will disappear or lessen (Bensahel et al. , 1984, p. 135). The first stage of stress is mild and usually is accompanied by ‘1. Great zest 2. Unusually acute perception 3. Excessive nervous energy and ability to accomplish more work than usual’; (Bensahel et al. , 1984, p. 135).
During this stage, it is so pleasant that they want to maintain it. Unfortunately, it must be considered an early warning sign that energy reserves are being drawn down (Bensahel et al. , 1984, p. 35). During the second stage of recognizing stress, some of the more unpleasant effects begin to appear. Energy reserves usually do not last through the day. Some of the symptoms include tiredness early in the day, heart flutters and/or disturbance of bowel and stomach functions, tightness occurring in back and head muscles, and not being to relax (Bensahel et al. , 1984 p. 136). Tiredness becomes more apparent in the third stage.
There is more disturbance in bowel functions as well as stomach pain. Muscles become more tight and there is an increased feeling of tenseness. Individuals usually xperience sleep problems and have a feeling of faintness. For individuals suffering stress to this stage, medical attention is advisable. Unless one reduces the demands causing stress, more serious problems will arise in the later stages (Bensahel et al. , 1984 p. 136). At stage four, one can experience problems getting through the day. Once-pleasant activities become quite difficult, and the ability to communicate in social affairs or talking with friends becomes quite burdensome.
There is more difficulty sleeping with the occurrence of unpleasant dreams. The stressed individual develops a feeling of egativism, inability to concentrate, and nameless fears. Stage five is represented by a deepening of the stage four symptoms along with extreme fatigue (Bensahel et al. , 1984, p. 137). The final stage can produce terrifying symptoms. This can include heart pounding and panic caused by release of adrenaline. There is often gasping for breath, trembling, shivering, sweating, numb and tingling hands and feet, and sheer exhaustion.
The symptoms of stress are frequently conflicting and confusing. The stress disorder is essentially a step-by-step exhaustion of the body’s fuel reserves’; (Bensahel et al. , 1984, p. 39) During the early 1980s, workers compensation claims nearly tripled for those reporting stress related illness due to work (Schor, 1991, p. 11). There has been a dramatic increase in the number of stress related illnesses, particularly among women. Jobs have been a major contributing factor to this stress. Only one-forth of wives with children held paying jobs outside the home in the 1960s. By the 1990s, two-thirds of American wives were involved in paying jobs outside the home.
Not only are women working more, but they are working more long hours. These increased hours on the job create less time for ‘home ife’; activities (Schor, 1991, p. 25). Now that many households require both parents to work and with more women entering the workforce, companies are paying closer attention to the women in their companies and are becoming more concerned for quality family life. Companies have developed flexible hours for working mothers, while also implementing child daycare programs within the organization.
This helps working mothers the freedom to arrange work around family (Kizer, 1987, p. 6). To help reduce stress and improve the quality of life, many organizations are becoming more involved in wellness programs. With increasing health care costs, many employers are concentrating on disease prevention and health promotion. By putting a wellness program in place, it leads to a healthier workforce which increases its productivity level, reduces employee absenteeism, creates less overtime, and it also cuts the cost of health benefits (Kizer, 1987, p. xi). Another reason that many companies are developing a wellness program within the organization is the effect it has on the bottom line.
By preventing stress, an organization has happy healthy employees which means the quality and quantity of work will be improved. For example, A middle manager may be a company’s shining star, but if he is living in constant disharmony at home, or if his teenage daughter, whom he suspects is using street drugs, did not come home until 3 a. m. last Saturday night, this promising manager is not going to be particularly efficient at even routine daily tasks. A worksite wellness program could help’; (Kizer, 1987, p. 36). Another contributing factor to higher job related stress is less leisure and vacation time.
Throughout the 1980s, the amount of paid time off for employees is actually shrinking. Many European workers are gaining vacation time, hile Americans are losing it. ‘ In the last decade, U. S. workers have gotten less paid time off – on the order of three and a half fewer days each year of vacation time, holidays, sick pay, and other paid absences. ‘; (Schor, 1991, p. 32). Many companies faced an economic squeeze in the 1980s. Vacations and holidays were among the cost-cutting efforts. DuPont reduced its top vacation allotment time from seven to four weeks.
They also eliminated three of their paid holidays a year. With the new trend of down-sizing, many employees are fearful of job loss and therefore, spend less time away from the workplace (Schor, 1991, p. 2). Individuals who experience high or frequent levels of stress need to learn to cope. High levels of stress can effect job performance and it can also be unhealthy. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, people need to attempt to take responsibility for stress. Those individuals need to learn more about stress in general and how it effects them.
They also need to develop techniques for monitoring personal levels of stress and develop techniques to deal with job related stress. Employees should look within the organization on ways to alleviate stress and how to cope more effectively. Organizations are ften unnecessarily stressful and should be changed to reduce the negative impact on individuals’ physical and mental health (Paine, 1982, p. 21). Three major strategies for strengthening individuals are workshops, stress management skills, and focused short term counseling. Introductory workshops are essential to communicate and educate to be more mentally and physically healthy.
Such workshops which specialize in topics as time management or relaxation techniques help to alleviate the stress in one’s life (Paine, 1982, p. 22). Finding techniques that deal with personal stress can also be useful in dealing with job stress. Regular aerobic exercise to deep breathing techniques are potentially useful in stress management. Many specialist agree that there is not any one method to overcome the problem. One needs to realize their own self needs and strengths in dealing with stress management (Paine, 1982, p. 23). There are many different ways in which you can deal with job stress.
Individuals can take on simple self-help countermeasures. There is also help from friends, colleagues, spouse, or other relatives. Professional help is available from clergymen, physicians, or counselors. More extreme stress can be dealt with by psychotherapy or rescription drugs. Individuals should choose countermeasures in relation to the severity of the stress and the problems it is causing. If one approach does not work, they should try another (Bensahel et al. , 1984, p. 153). The worksite offers several advantages for employees interested in making healthy lifestyle changes.
The advantages include: MOst employees go to a worksite on a regular schedule, thus providing opportunities for regular participation in wellness programs. Contact with co-workers can provide strong social support which is believed to be a primary force in sustaining lifestyle changes. Opportunities for strong, steady support of the program, as well as for promoting the concept that good health is good for everyone. Programs at the worksite may be less expensive to the employee than comparable programs in the community or may even be offered free as an employee benefit.
Because of the varity of data systems available, it is possible to evaluate changes in an employee’s health status or other measures resulting from the program. The most attractive feature from an employee’s viewpoint is the fact that the program is convenient. From the employers viewpoint the benefits of worksite ealth promotion for stress include: Improved employee morale Improved employee relations Improved retention Improved community relations. Reduced absenteeism Reduced number of hours lost to late arrivals and sick days What’s causing stress in your life?
Work, family problems, personality clashes, money problems. They all cause stress. Even positive events in your life such as marriage, new job, new home, even lotto winners report feeling stressed. Since there’s no getting around lifes problems, the best way to manage stress is to learn better coping skills. First pinpoint the reasons for stress in your life. Then try changing your attitude about them. Learn what you can control and accept the things you cannot. Practice self talk (this to shall pass, Some day we will laugh about this, or Its a learning experience). Keep your perspective.
Ask yourself, ‘Will I remember this in five years? ‘; Try to find the positive side to a stressful situation. Do not worry about things that may never happen. Practice positive self talk, for example,’;I can do this,’;or ‘I’m in control. ‘;Negative self talk such as, ‘I have to be perfect,’or ‘I can’t do this,’; produces more stress. Take action to manage stress. Changes and stress create energy. Are you using that energy to continue toward your goals? Or are you letting stress make you unhappy and unproductive? Take action to control your stress, both at work and at home.
Manage your time better- make a ‘to do’; list. Make it realistic so you can do the things listed and set priorities. Break task into bite size chunks. Delagate as much as possible. Keep in mind that tomorrow is another day and accept the fact that you may not get everything done today. Make sure you are communicating effectively- Go into stressful meetings as fully prepared as possible. Organize your thoughts, establish eye contact, and listen for the whole message, including content, feelings, and meanings. Remember that solving problems depends on give and take. Be prepared to negotiate and compromise.
Break the tention cycle-At your desk, close your eyes, breathe deeply and relax. Laugh with co-workers, go out for lunch. At home, read a book, take a walk, chat with next door neighbors. Get plenty of regular exercise and sleep-they will help you cope better. Get organized at home-Set daily and weekly rountines for household chores. Delegate some chores to other family members. Cook meals in large quantities and freeze some for later. Plan for emergencies, keep first aid supplies and an extra set of car keys around. Stress can affect your self esteem and your health, if you let it.
Be kind to yourself. Relax, keep a positive attitude and get involved in activities you enjoy. Build on your strengths, take care of yourself. Also learn to reach out to others. Everyone needs a support system, a network of trustworthy people you care about and who care about you. Share your feelings so that they don’t build up. Then focus on building positive energy. Stress is a normal, involuntary response to any demand ade upon the body. Stress is very complex. Sources of stress may be made either more positive or more negative by a range of factors related to a given situation.
Stress has become a widely used yet poorly understood term. As a result, a number of misconceptions about stress exist. Three of the most identified misconceptions are that: all stress is dab, stress is a part of life and there is nothing you can do about it,and stress is caused solely and completely by environmental factors. Stress is very much a personal condition, and individuals vary in their ability to cope with different forms and levels of stress. An example of this stress on a personal note would be co-worker conflict. When this stress occurs co-workers should discuss this matter privately.
If possible, arrange your meeting on neutral grounds. Approach the person in a non threating manner. Respond to them with: ‘I would like to talk something over with you. ‘; Try to make the other person feel less defensive or angry. Do not blame the other person. Listen closely to the other person. Understanding the other point of view may help you feel less stressful. Focus on ways to solve the problem. In this I mean do not revisit every past negative incident,this may istract from the resolution. Finally if none of the above work, seek help.
If necessary talk with an employee assistance counselor who can help develope ground rules for such discussions and promote respectful communications. Stress is a complex process. It can arise in white collar as well as in blue collar workers. Surveys have found little difference between white and blue collar workers in terms of complaints, health, life satisfaction, depression. or other indicattors of stress. Shift workers are thought to be more susceptible to stress-related illnesses. Because of personal involvement ith the disruption in basic sleep patterns and disruption in social life.
Since every situation is unique, there are probaly as many separate sources of stress as there are work situation. This may is important to recognise when seeking to evaluate working enviroments for sources of stress. Never the less sources of work related stress can be grouped into four general catagories. Work load-which means stress resulting from to much work,to little work, work that is to hard or to easy. Work conditions-refers to a wide variety of factors including organization structure, such as job loss,change in work, and similar factors.