Managing Stress in the Workplace

What is Stress?

Stress:

  • Your body’s reaction to an event that stimulates you
  • Stress isn’t always a bad thing

What Causes Stress?

  • External Stressors — Environmental factors or events
  • Internal Stressors —Specific behaviors, ways of thinking, traits or lifestyle choices

How Stress Affects Us

  • Work performance decreases
  • Relationships suffer
  • Lifestyle becomes unbalanced
  • Physical symptoms appear
  • Health problems arise or worsen
  • Feelings of dissatisfaction, anxiety become apparent and even overwhelming

Causes of Stress in the Workplace

  • Change
  • Conflicting priorities
  • Time management issues
  • Conflict among staff
  • Disruptions/distractions
  • Problems at home
  • Ineffective communication

Change

  • Recognize that change—good or bad—causes stress
  • Stay one step ahead
  • Be sensitive to employees’ concerns
  • Remind employees that they have control
  • Be flexible
  • Maintain a positive attitude

Time Management Issues

  • Plan ahead
  • Make lists
  • Delegate effectively
  • Use calendars and planners
  • Avoid information overload
  • Keep meetings to a minimum and on track

Conflicting Priorities

  • Make chain of command clear
  • Define goals
  • Avoid vague directives

Conflict Among Staff

  • Address conflicts before they escalate
  • Practice good listening skills
  • Respect differences
  • Avoid judging
  • Focus on the outcome, not the problem
  • Emphasize teamwork
  • Consider a mediator

Disruptions/Distractions

  • Accept that disruptions happen
  • Turn them to your advantage
  • Be flexible
  • Schedule uninterrupted time
  • Pick certain times each day to return messages and e-mails

Problems at Home

  • Childcare
  • Adult care
  • Finances
  • Health
  • Relationships
  • Offer help

Ineffective Communication

  • Keep the lines of communication open
  • Give your support
  • Ask for feedback
  • Keep a sense of humor
  • Be a good communicator

Avoiding Burnout

  • Offer positive feedback and constructive criticism
  • Provide recognition
  • Give ample direction
  • Set goals
  • Limit overtime
  • Be flexible
  • Emphasize downtime
  • Make time for fun

More Proactive Strategies

  • Empathy
  • Selection and placement of manpower
  • Job analysis and design
  • Counseling and training
  • Resources available

Recognizing Dangerous Stress Levels

  • Changes in work performance
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Withdrawal
  • Talk of suicide
  • Poor concentration
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns or behavior
  • Giving away possessions, or discussion of will and funeral arrangements
  • Other abnormal behaviors or changes

Recognizing Your Own Stress Signals

  • Do I often feel out of control?
  • Do I feel constant pressure to achieve?
  • Do I have difficulty concentrating?
  • Do I have feelings of depression, anxiety, helplessness or panic?
  • Do I have difficulty falling asleep or do I wake frequently during the night?
  • Do I suffer from frequent headaches?
  • Have I experienced a significant loss of or increase in appetite?
  • Do I cry (or feel the desire to cry) often?
  • Do I feel faint or dizzy for no apparent reason?
  • Do I experience shortness of breath or feel tightness in my chest without exertion?
  • Do I regularly feel the need to smoke or have a drink to relax?
  • Do I feel unusually tired?
  • Do I experience frequent nausea?

Taking Care of Yourself

  • Set aside time for yourself every day
  • Take an occasional “mental health” day
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Take a multi-vitamin
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Exercise regularly
  • Schedule regular physicals
  • Get enough sleep
  • Make a date with yourself

Source: NOAA: www.wfm.noaa.gov