PSYCH-105 Industrial Psychology

Chapter 10: Stress Management

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Appendix

Stress Management Strategies

There is no such thing as a ‘pressure free’ job. Some pressures can, in fact be a good thing, but people’s ability to deal with pressure is not limitless. Excessive workplace pressure and the stress to which it may lead can be harmful; they can damage your performance and undermine health and well being. Eliminating pressure from work may not be possible or desirable but controlling harmful and unnecessary levels of stress will help keep you fit and healthy and enable the organization to achieve its goals.

Stress management refers to the wide spectrum of techniques and psychotherapies aimed at controlling a person’s levels of stress, especially chronic stress, usually for the purpose of improving everyday functioning. In this context, the term ‘stress’ refers only to a stress with significant negative consequences, or distress in the terminology advocated by Hans Selye. There are two types of strategies that can help the employee to cope with stress namely the coping strategies at the individual level and the coping strategies at the organizational level. At both the levels we focus on two aspects: problem focused strategies and emotion focused strategies.

Problem focused strategies: These strategies help an individual cope with stress by identifying the source of stress and determining the course of action that will reduce the stress levels.

Emotion focused strategies: The coping strategies that focus on negative emotions and thoughts appear to increase psychological distress (e.g. venting of emotions and rumination), whereas coping strategies that regulate emotion (e.g. seeking social support, affect regulation and acceptance) appear to reduce distress.

Individual Stress Management Strategies

How you react in different situations, what causes you stress, and how you behave when you feel stressed. Once you’ve done that, take the following steps:

Problem focused strategies:

• Time management

People become anxious, frustrated, and even panicky when they are not able to manage their time effectively. Therefore, people learn how to manage their time well so that they can complete their task and meet their deadlines. One popular approach to time management is to make a list every morning of the things to be done that day. The things to be done may be assigned in the list according to their importance. Some basic principles of time management are: 

  • Deciding on a daily basis the activities to be carried out along with the time frame for completing them. 
  • Prioritizing the activities on the basis of their urgency and importance
  • Carrying out important activities first
  • Taking care of demanding tasks during that part of the day when one is very energetic and alert. 
• Requesting others for help

A person can ask his colleagues or superior for help in dealing with certain work related problems. Alternatively, he could request the human resources department to provide him with additional training. This will help to update his knowledge and skills, thereby enabling him to deal with the stressors effectively. 

• Shifting to another job

At times, employees may not be able to bring down their stress levels despite their best efforts. In such a case, it may be in the best interest of the individuals to either change the nature of his job or seek employment in another organization. However, before taking this extreme step, the employee should ask the management to change his job role if the stress is caused by various job related problems.

• Be assertive

Practice being straightforward and assertive in communicating with others. If other people are making unrealistic or unreasonable demands on you, be prepared to tell them how you feel and to say no.

Emotion focused strategies:

• Relaxation

Coping with stress requires adaptation. Proper relaxation is an effective way to adapt. Individuals can reduce their stress by means of certain relaxation techniques like meditation, hypnosis and massage therapy. A popular way of resting is to sit quietly with closed eyes for about ten minutes every afternoon. Find a relaxation technique that works for you –prayer, yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises. Look for the humor in life, and enjoy yourself.

• Exercise

It has been medically proven that physical exercise such as walking, aerobics, jogging; swimming, cycling, tennis etc. are very effective in bringing down stress levels.

• Psychological strategies

Certain psychological strategies, such as increased self awareness and perceptual adaptation are used to control the effect of stress on an individual.

  • Increased self awareness makes a person perceptive to early signs of stress and thus helps him to manage stress effectively.
  • Perceptual adaptation is a strategy that helps an individual to deal effectively with those stressors on which he either has no control or is unable to eliminate totally. It isn’t always possible to change the things you don’t like or find difficult, but you can try and change your own attitude to them so that you don’t build up feelings of resentment or start taking your feelings out on others.
• Recreation

If people work incessantly without respite, they are likely to feel stressed out. Everyone needs hobbies and recreation to take their minds off work and help them relax and enjoy themselves. Develop an absorbing hobby or interest – an activity that uses your brain in a completely different way from your everyday work can be a great release.

• Companionship

Loneliness tends to make people stressed out. In general, people who have close and supportive relationships with their families and friends tend to experience lower levels of stress. Smiling and laughing with friends will also produce hormones which help you to relax.

Other methods to reduce or avoid stress:

• Practice facing stressful moments

Think about the event or situation you expect to face and rehearse your reactions. Find ways to practice dealing with the challenge. If you know that speaking in front of a group frightens you, practice doing it, perhaps with a trusted friend or fellow student. If the pressure of taking tests causes you to freeze up, buy some practice tests at the school bookstore or online and work with them when there are no time pressures.

• Examine your expectations

Try to set realistic goals. It’s good to push yourself to achieve, but make sure your expectations are realistic.

• Watch out for perfectionism

Be satisfied with doing the best you can. Nobody’s perfect—not you, not your fellow Cadet, nobody. Allow people the liberty to make mistakes, and remember that mistakes can be a good teacher.

• Believe in yourself and your potential

Remember that many people from disadvantaged backgrounds have gone on to enjoy great success in life. At the same time, avoid those activities that promise release from stress while actually adding to it. Drinking alcohol (despite what all those TV commercials imply), drinking caffeine, smoking, using narcotics (including marijuana), and overeating all add to the body’s stress in addition to their other harmful effects.

Organizational Stress Management Strategies

Problem focused strategies:

• Redesigning the job

Organization can carry out a job analysis to determine the reasons for stress and the problems caused by it. job analysis also help in determining, if there is role ambiguity or conflicts, if employees are overloaded with work or have too little work, and whether the working conditions are good or not. 

• Proper selection and placement

The recruitment and selection policies of an organization should clearly specify the educational qualifications, experience, skills and abilities that and employee should possess to handle a particular job. This will ensure employee – job compatibility.

• Training

Proper training reduces work related stress among employees. 

• Team building

The rigid and impersonal work environment prevalent in many organizations is a major cause of high levels of stress among employees. Organizations can use the team based approach to help employees cope with stress related problems. 

• Providing various day care facilities

Employee’s preoccupation with family problems increases the chances of errors and accidents and causes stress among employees. Therefore, many organizations provide in – house facilities in which employees can take care of their children and their parents and relatives.

Emotion focused strategies:

• Promoting open communication within the organization

Ambiguity leads to percolation of rumours within the organization and this may cause anxiety and tension among the employees. Therefore, employee should be kept informed about the changes taking place within the organization and how they are likely to be affected by these changes.

• Mentoring

Many organizations adopt a mentoring program in which employees with less experience are placed under the guidance and care of senior and experienced employees. This reduces the stress level of new employees.

• Wellness program and personal time off

Wellness programs are designed by the organization to improve physical and mental conditions of the employees. For example workshops to quit smoking, providing Jim etc.

• Psychological counselling

Counselling is the discussion of any emotional problem with an employee in order to decrease it. it helps in reducing stress by allowing the employee to let out their feelings and emotions and gives them emotional support to find the solution to their problem. 

Author – Dr. Niyati Garg

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