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Stress Management

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STRESS MANAGEMENT

CHAPTER OBJECTIVES:

TO UNDERSTAND
• The role of Stress in Employee Health
• Extreme forms of Stress Reactions
• Causes and symptoms of Stress
• Organizational Effects of Stress
• Actions that may Prevent or Reduce Stress
• Different Counseling Functions
• Three types of Counseling and Their Usefulness

Coping with Stress
People have many sources of stress: school, jobs, relationships, money (the lack of it), etc. Perhaps there is no more important topic than how one can handle or cope with stress. This module hopes to offer some practical advice on how to understand and manage one's stress.

Some important questions to ask yourself prior to starting this unit are:
• What are the main stresses in my life right now?
• Are these stresses caused by people or things?
• How have you attempted to manage these stresses? By avoiding them? By confronting them?
• Using substances?
• Have you ever given any thought to developing several, positive methods for stress management that could be effectively and safely used when the need arises?

What is Stress?
Stress is commonplace in the lives of college students. Learning to deal with stress means learning to understand what stress is, identifying common sources, and then practicing some method of stress reduction on a regular basis.

Everyone has some method(s) for dealing with stress. Sometimes the methods we use for dealing with stress are productive: meditation, exercise, and listening to our favorite music would be examples. But sometimes the methods we choose are not so positive: alcohol abuse, smoking and overeating would be examples. Though these negative stress management tools to tend to work in the short term, in the long term they will have other negative health effects. It is best to find stress management tools that will have beneficial, positive health effects in the long run and yet still effectively manage stress in the short term.

Definitions
Stress refers to how the body responds to any number of physical or emotional stimuli (i.e., stressors). Effects of this response are sometimes perceptible-such as an increased heart rate, respiratory rate, sweating, skin problems, or tense muscles. Other changes, though common, are not perceptible: increased blood pressure, metabolism, and changes in circulating fats. Continued exposure to stressors, especially of a negative type, will often lead to mental and physical symptoms such as anxiety, depression, heart palpitations, and muscular aches and pains. Eventually, if one cannot find a way to effectively regulate stress, various physical and mental disorders may develop which may be serious enough to cause disability and even death.

Stress is the general term applied to the pressures people feel in life. The presence of stress at work is almost inevitable in many jobs. However, individual differences account for a wide range of reaction to stress; Stress: When it becomes excessive, employees develope various syptoms of strees that can harm their job performance and health;
 Physiological: Ulcers, Digestive problems, Headaches,High blood pressure, Sleep disruption.
 Psychological: Emotional instability, Moodiness, Nervousness and tension, Chronic worry, Depression, Burnout.
 Behavioral: Excessive smoking,Abuse of alchol or drugs, Absenteeism, Aggression, Safety problems, Performance problems.

Extreme Products of Stress

Stress can be either temporary or long-term, either mild or severe. If stress is temporary and mild, most people can handle it or at least recover from is effects rather quicly.
• Burnout: The human body can’t instantly rebuilt its ability to cope with stress once it’s depleted. People become physically and psychologically weakened from trying to combat it. This condion is called burnout.
• Trauma: Another severe product of stress is trauma, occurs following a major threat to one’s security. The event could be a natural disaster, an organizational crisis, dramatic employee abuse by the employer, or personal job loss.

One problematic disorder is called workplace trauma. Attitudinal clues to workplace trauma include severe moodiness, concentration difficulties, and alienation, in addition to the more distinctive behaviors of tardiness, absenteeism, and accident-proneness.

A common source of workplace trauma is sudden job loss, with its potentially crushing effect on one’s self-esteem. The individual impact was often magnified by two factors –the lack of warning and the lack of insularity felt by even high-performing employees.

Some experience layoff survivor’s sickness, with feelings of uncertainty, anger, guilt, and distrust. They are simultaneously glad to have a job and guilty that their workmates were displaced. In the meantime the job pressures on them often increase dramatically as they try to shoulder the tasks of former colleagues. They also wonder, “Will i be the next to be cut?”

Another source of trauma is to witness workplace violence. Sometimes a trouble employee takes dramatic and harmful physical action against coworkers, managers or company property. These violent, anger-based acts can include unprovoked fights, destruction of property or use of weapons to harm others.
Any person who witness violence, receiver injury from it or lives under the fear of repeated future violence may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. The shock of sudden and dramatic violent incidents often produces immidiate stress-related syptoms. More significantly, the effects of these traumatic crises may last for years and require lengthy treatment. Even more important than detecting stress, burnout and trauma is its prevention.
For example, the U.S. Postal Service has established a crisis management plan that focuses on five areas;
1-Careful selection of new employees
2-Zero tolerance policy to deal with aberrant behavior
3-Improvement of the work culture
4-Mandatory training for managers to help them spot potential problems
5-Threat assesment process that is automatically implemented after an employee is dismissed.As a result, actual assaults have dropped sharply and employee fears about violence have been cut in half.

Causes of Stress

An important first step in prevention is to examine and understand the causes of stress. Conditions that tend to cause stress are called stressors. Although even a single stressor may cause major stress, usually stressors combine to pressure an employee in a variety of ways until stress develos.

The major sources of employee stress are evenly divided between organizational factors and the nonwork environment.To control stress, then, organizations, usually begin by exploring its job-related causes.

Job-Related Causes of Stress
Almost any job condition can cause stress, depending on an employee’s reaction to it. For example, one employee will accept a new work procedure and feel little or no stress, while another experiences overwhelming pressure from the same task. Part of the difference lies in each employee’s ezperiences, general outlooks and expectations, which are all internal factors.
Work overload and time deadlines put employees under pressure and lead to stress. Often these pressures arise from management and a poor quality of management are an automatic supervisor , an insecure job climent, lack of control over one’s own job and inadequate authority to match one’s responsibilities:

-Work overload
-Time pressures
-Poor quality of supervision
-Insecure job climate
-Lack of personal control
-Inadequate authority to match responsibilities
-Role conflict and ambiguity
-Differences between company and employee values
-Change of any type,especially when it is major or unusually
-Frustration
-Tecnology with training or support

Role conflict and ambiguity are also related to stress. In situation of this type, people have different expectations of an employee’s activities on a job, so the employee does not know what to do and can’t meet all expectations. In addition since the job often is poorly defined, the employee has no official model on which to depend.

A further cause of stress lies in differences between company values and ethical practices. Substantial differences can lead to significant mental stress as an effort is made to balance the requirements of both sets of values.

Some jobs produse more stress than others. Those which involve rotating shift work, machine-paced tasks, routine and repetitive work or hazardous environments are assosiated with greater stress. Workers who spend many hours daily in front of computer screens also report high stress levels. Evidence also indicates that the sources of stress differ by organizational level.

Middle managers may experience stress when their job security is threatened by news of impending corporate downsizings. Workers are more likely to experience the stressors of low status, lack of preceived control, resource shortages and the demand for a large volume of error-free work.
A related source of stress that affect many employees is worry over their financial well-begin. This situation can arise when cost-saving technology is introduced, contract negotiations begin or the firm’s financial performance suffers. Clearly, there are numerous and powerful force at work that can contribute to the feeling of stress.

Frustration

• Another cause of stress is Frustration. It is a result of a motivation begin blocked to prevent one from reaching a desired goal. These reaction to frustration are known as defense mechanisms, because you are trying to defend yourself from the phyhological effects of the blocked goal.
• The situation is more more serious when there is a long-run frustration such as blocked opportunity for promotion. Then you have to live with the frustration day after day. It begins to build emotional disorders that interfere with your ability to function effectively.

Types of Reactions
• One of the most common reactions to frustration is aggression. Whenever people are aggressive,it is likely that they are reflectng frustrations that are upsetting them. Additional reactions to frustration include apathy, withdrawal, regression, fixation,physical disorder and substitute goals.
• You also may develop a physical disorder such as an upset stomach or choose a substitute gaol, such as becoming the leader of a powerful informal group in office politics. All of these are possible reaction to frustration.

Source of Frustration

Although management can be the source of frustration, it ia only one of several sources. Also can be frustrated by the work itself such as a part that does not fit or a machine that breaks down. Even the environment such as a rainy day may prevent you from doing the work you intended.
Some research suggests that it is the little things called hassles, rather than major life crises that produce frustration. Hassles are conditions of daily living that are perceived to threaten one’s well-being. They have been found to be related to both symptoms of ill health and levels of absenteeism.The most frequent hassles include having too many things to do,losing items, being interrapted and having to do unchallenging work. Such as dealing with problems of aging parents, having insufficient personal energy. It is possible that none of these hassles alone will cause the average person to become frustrated. However, the cumulative effects of multiple hassles may well result in a feeling of unwelcome stress.

Frustration and Management Practice

When Motivation is lacking then very little frustration is likely to develop. One implication is that when management attempts to motivate employees strongly, it also should be prepared to remove barriers and help prepare the way for employees to reach their goal

Stress and Job Performance

Stress can be either helpful or harmful to job performance, depending on its level. When there is no stress, job challenges are absent and performance tends to be low. As stress increases, performance tends to increase, because stress helps a person call up recources to meet job requirements.

Constructive stress is a healthy stimulus that encourages employees to respond to challenges. Eventually, stress reaches a plateau that corresponds approximately with a person’s top day-to-day performance capability. At this point additional stress tends to produce no more improvement.

Finally, if stress becomes too great, it turns into a destructive force. Performance beging to decline at some point because excess stress interferes with performance. An employee loses the ability to cope; she or he becomes unable to make decisions and exhibits erratic bahavior. If stress increases to a breaking point, performance becomes zero; the employee has beakdown, becomes too ill to work, is fired, quits or refuses to come to work to face the stress.

Stress Vulnerability

o Stress Threshold Worker vulnerability to stress is a function of both internal and external stressors. One internal factor is an employee’s stress threshold. Some people have a low threshold and the stress of even relatively small changes or disruptions in their work routines causes a reduction in performance. Others have a high threshold staying cool, calm and productive longer under the same conditions.

o Perceived Control The second internal factor affecting employee stress is the amount of perceived control they have over their work and working conditions. Empoyees who have a substantial degree of independence, autonomy and freedom to make decisions seem to handle work pressures better.

Type A and Type B People

Type A People
They are aggresive and competitive, set high standarts are impatient with themselves and others and thrive under constant time pressures.
Type B People
They appear more relaxed and easygoing. They accept situations and work withing them rather than fight them competitively. Type B people are especially relaxed regarding time pressures, so they are less prone to have problems associated with stress.

There are many kinds of stressors:

Burnt toast, crying kids, arguments with co-workers, exercise, a passionate kiss, loud sounds, productive work, viruses, bacteria, overexposure to the sun, and grief are all examples of stressors. While some of these stressors could be considered good, pleasant and/or beneficial, they nevertheless cause a similar generalized response in the body. For example, what does an argument with your boss have in common with jogging? Since they are both stressors, they will each cause increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased respiratory rate and muscle tension. Though your perception of these two stressors might be different, your body's reaction to them is pretty much the same. Therefore, it is important to note that stress is cumulative. It doesn't make any difference whether the stressor is good or bad, if you have enough stressors occurring in your life at the same time, the body will suffer the "wear and tear"."

NOTE: the degree of stress which any stressor will cause is dependent on:

a) the degree to which the stressor is present. In other words, the more of the stressor, the greater the stress it produces . So, for example, if a small headache causes some stress, a large headache will cause more stress. If a small argument causes a small amount of stress, a huge argument will cause more stress.
b) how the stressor is perceived (different people will view stressors differently). As a result, one stressor might produce distress in one person and eustress in another.

Eustress

Eustress can be defined as a pleasant or curative stress. We can't always avoid stress, in fact, sometimes we don't want to. Often, it is controlled stress that gives us our competitive edge in performance related activities like athletics, giving a speech, or acting (see Performance Stress Curve diagram).
The Stress Curve diagram illustrates the concept that, for any performance-related activity, there is an optimal amount of stress. If you are involved in an oral interview for a job, you will benefit from a certain amount of stress. It is stress that provides you with focus and gives you your "competitive edge" that will help you think quickly and clearly and express your thought in ways that will benefit your interview process.

Some stressors can cause both good and bad stress. Radiation, left uncontrolled, may cause cancer, and yet, if the radiation is controlled and pinpointed, it may serve to cure some cancers. Exercise is most often a good stressor. But overtraining can cause injury and illness. To continue to exercise when your body is fatigued or weak, can result in a variety of overuse injuries and predispose you to illness.

Distress
Distress is an unpleasant or disease-producing stress. Chronic, sustained, uncontrolled stress of a negative type may lead to a compromised immune system, illness, and even death. As a result, we all should become more aware of common or persistent distressors in our lives and initiate methods for managing them.

Measuring Stress
Jason is a second year college student and lives at home with his parents so that he can save money to go to a four-year college. He has been having some problems with his parents who want him to account for his every move and require strict rules about curfew, household chores, the kind of places he can go and with whom. At 19 years of age, he is feeling like they are not trusting him enough to make responsible decisions. They have all been arguing more lately and this is beginning to take its toll on the family life.
This scenario is a typical example of a kind of stress that effects college students. There are a variety of stressors involved. Stressors for Jason include his parents and their reactions toward him, and the rules and regulations that he perceives as too strict. For Jason's parents the stressors include Jason and how he reacts toward their rules and regulations. How do we become aware of the amount and types of stressors in our everyday lives? The next slide explains five easy methods for measuring stress that can be used at any time during the course of your typical day.

Five Quick Ways to Measure Stress
1. In order to effectively manage stress, you must become aware of the amount and types of stressors in your everyday life. One way of developing an awareness is to assess the frequency and amount of stress in your daily routine, and then trace the stress to its source (i.e., the stressor). Below is a list of five quick, easy ways of measuring stress in your daily life. These methods can be easily used any time and anywhere.
2. Check muscle tension by "Scanning"
When you scan, you are checking different muscles in your body as if you could X-ray each part and look for tension. Start at the top of your head and work your way down. Check your forehead, eyes, jaws (are you clenching your teeth?). Then move to your neck and shoulders and check for tension or pain. Next your arms, chest and stomach. Check your breathing to see if it is rapid and shallow rather than slow and deep. Scan your upper legs, calves and your feet and toes.
3. Check hand temperature
Place your hand on the side of your neck just above your collar. If your hand is noticeably cooler than your neck, your hand temperature indicates that your body is probably stressed.
4. Check for nervous sweating
Many people perspire when they are tense. This is an involuntary stress response that is caused by the secretion of certain stress hormones. This is yet another simple indicator that your body is responding to some stressor.
5. Check for a rapid pulse rate (> 75 bpm)
At rest, most people will have a pulse rate in the 50s or 60s. However, if your pulse rate is higher than 75 bpm, it may indicate that your body is responding to a stressor.
6. Check for rapid, shallow breathing

When people are relaxed, they breath slowly and deeply with relaxed stomach muscles. When people are tense, they often tighten their stomach muscles and breathe through their chests. Since the chest is not as expandable as the stomach, one will exhibit rapid, shallow, chest breathing. One technique for managing stress, is to learn to breathe in a more relaxed fashion. Relax the stomach and breathe in slowly, filling the stomach first and then the chest. Relax again as you exhale and repeat.

Note that each of these methods for dealing with body stress utilizes a physical sign or symptom to assess stress levels. These signs may not always be perceptible however, becoming more aware of stress symptoms may reinforce healthy attitudes and practices in response to common stressors.
After you have used these methods to uncover the most stressful times and places in your day, then take some time to analyze these situations to see what seems to be causing the stress. For example, let's say that you have noticed that the most stressful time for you is at work. What do you think is causing such a stressful reaction? Perhaps it has to do with your workstation. A computer display terminal that is set too close to your face so that you experience eye strain, or a chair that is too high or too low. A keyboard that is too high or too low. Or, perhaps your problem is that you and your boss constantly disagree, or that he or she is putting extra pressure on you to perform tasks within unreasonable deadlines.
Once you are able to define your most stressful situations and what causes them, you will then be able to map out your strategy for managing these stresses.

Sources of Stress
In order to combat stress in your life, you need to become aware of common sources of stress. The next slide will categorize stress simply. While there are many sources of stress, the most important ones to you are the ones that you encounter frequently and that may serve as a source of distress with time.

Situational, Body and Mind Stress
There are many different ways that stress can be categorized. The three categories discussed below are just suggestions as to how you might view the sources of stress in your life. The important thing is whether your most common stressors would fall into any of the categories discussed below. If so, you will find several coping methods, which will be outlined later, that will be based on these categories of stress.

Situational Stress
Situational stress is caused by situational stressors in your immediate environment. An example would be sitting in an airplane as it is taxiing the runway for takeoff. You may be sitting, clutching the arm rests and hoping that you won't need to use the emergency instructions that the stewardess has just explained to you.
Your work environment, while you are working, is considered a situational stress. You are running back and forth, dealing with customers, counting change, answering phones, etc. When your workplace is real busy, you may experience a high level of situational stress. If your workplace is always busy, you may need some coping methods to help you function at high levels with the lowest possible negative reactions to the continual stress.
Keyword: it's happening NOW.

Body Stress
Body stress is stress that results in overt physical symptoms. Examples include abuse, such as consuming too much alcohol, abusing drugs, or exercising too much. On the other hand, some people neglect their bodies by not getting enough sleep or proper nutrition.
Many people view it as a simple hangover, but drinking too much alcohol is a stress to the body. It reduces the amount of REM or dream sleep that you experience and results in a series of problematic symptoms such as headache, fatigue and inability to concentrate. This is an example of body stress that is caused by abuse of alcohol. What is the solution to this kind of stressor. Not too much can be done about an aggressive hangover except to wait out the symptoms. The more serious problem facing you would be to ensure that this type of abuse does not become a regular feature of your life. Often, body stress is related to other sources of stress. For example, the reason that one abuses alcohol may very well have to do with stresses at work or with relationships. So, the abuse of alcohol and resulting body stress is really tied to a deteriorating relationship. In this case, your body stress is your first clue to look for other stress-related problems.

Keywords: abuse, neglect.

Mind Stress
Mind stress is caused by negatively perceiving life events. Some people have a tendency to exaggerate problems or even invent problems that don't exist. We sometimes say that these people make "mountains out of molehills". Try to catch yourself being pessimistic, taking things personally or jumping to conclusions.
Mind stress is very common. You could be reading a book, listening to your teacher lecture or watching a movie, and suddenly you are no longer listening but instead you are thinking about something that happened earlier that morning or something that will be happening later that day. To the extent that you are worrying or fretting over these details is an example of mind stress. People who frequently allow themselves to mentally worry or think negative thoughts are the most prone to the negative long-term effects of mind stress.

Keywords: negative thinking.

• THREE STAGES OF STRESS :

• Alarm: In the first stage of GAS called alarm reaction, the body releases adrenaline and a variety of other psychological mechanisms to combat the stress and to stay in control. This is called fight or flight response. The muscles tense, the heart beats faster, the breathing and perspiration increases, the eyes dilate, the stomach may clench. Believe it or not, this is done by nature to protect you in case something bad happens. Once the cause of the stress is removed, the body will go back to normal.

• Resistance: If the cause for the stress is not removed, GAS goes to its second stage called resistance or adaptation. This is the body’s response to long term protection. It secretes further hormones that increase blood sugar levels to sustain energy and raise blood pressure. The adrenal cortex (outer covering) produces hormones called corticosteroids for this resistance reaction. Overuse by the body's defense mechanism in this phase eventually leads to disease. If this adaptation phase continues for a prolonged period of time without periods of relaxation and rest to counterbalance the stress response, sufferers become prone to fatigue, concentration lapses, irritability and lethargy as the effort to sustain arousal slides into negative stress.

• Exhaustion: The third stage of GAS is called exhaustion. In this stage, the body has run out of its reserve of body energy and immunity. Mental, physical and emotional resources suffer heavily. The body experiences "adrenal exhaustion". The blood sugar levels decrease as the adrenals become depleted, leading to decreased stress tolerance, progressive mental and physical exhaustion, illness and collapse.

How to Deal With Stress
Now that you have learned how to identify sources of stress in your life, and also how to measure the amount of stress you are experiencing, we can now talk about specific ways that you can use to counter the common stressors in your life.

Dealing with Situational Stress
The following interventions can be used to deal with stresses that result from your immediate surroundings.

Make changes in your surroundings
If you have a headache because you've been reading with poor light, move to another room where the lighting is better. Changing your surroundings can mean turning on lights, turning off loud music or raising or lowering your computer chair. Make a careful survey of the places where you spend a good deal of your time, your study place at home or your workplace for example. Check your surroundings carefully for potential situational stressors.

Caringly and Carefully Communicate
You need to learn to communicate with those with whom you are having problems. Sometimes your situational stress is caused by people. This is a more complicated potential source of stress. Whenever there are problems, you owe it to yourself and to the other person to reach a mutually acceptable solution to the problem. This involves communication in a caring and careful way.

Learn how and when to say "NO"
Sometimes your stress is caused by taking on too many responsibilities. Some people have a habit of always saying "yes" to requests for help by others. Pretty soon they not only have all their own problems and responsibilities to attend to-they have everyone else's too! You need to become more aware of your limits and learn when you have reached them. The next step is to practice saying "no". Remember, your first responsibility is to your own health. You are of little use to others if youare not healthy.

Learn techniques for time management
Situational stress often results from feeling like we don't have enough time to accomplish all we need to in a given day. In many cases it is not a lack of time that is the problem, but rather it is poor time management skills that lead us to this dilemma. Time management means different things to different people. For some, it will be something as simple as making lists of "things to do". For others, learning to use daily planners and organizers will help them to better manage their time.

Delegate responsibilities
People with perfectionist tendencies have trouble delegating work. They have the attitude that, "If I want it done right, I have to do it myself". They fear that by letting someone else help them with a given task, that they are losing control and that something will probably go wrong. We need to learn that there is more than just, "my way" of doing things. Learning to delegate responsibilities when they become overwhelming, will help you build more trusting relationships and will relieve your burden of too many stressors.

Dealing with Body Stress
The following interventions can be used to deal with stresses that result from abusing or neglecting your body.

Practice relaxation training
Dealing with body stress often simply means dealing with the evident symptoms that are seen in the body. For example, when you see rapid, shallow chest breathing, you can counter that with the practice of more relaxed breathing technique. Or when you notice tense muscles in various parts of the body, you can practice systematically relaxing the muscles by consciously loosening the muscles that seem to be tense.

Avoid common stress-inducing substances

THE STRESS-PRONE DIET

There are several food items that are a regular part of the average American diet that may predispose one to stress and ultimately, a stress related physical disorder. With our current understanding of nutrition we conclude that the stress-prone diet is:

1. High in sugar- frequent choices of foods high in sugar cause what is known as 'reactive hypoglycemia', a situation where the blood sugar level temporarily elevates followed by a rapid decline below normal. We refer to the elevation as a "sugar high" and the decline as the "sugar blues". Our bodies respond to these cycles in ways very similar to a stress response. Symptoms include: dizziness, weakness, hunger, headaches, and irritability. Repeated cycles add to the rate of wear and tear of various body systems.
2. High in salt- Sodium is necessary for proper function of the nervous system, but too much salt causes improper function of both the nervous and skeletal muscle systems.
Salt is also implicated in certain types of high blood pressure and edema, a condition of inflammation in and around the joints.
3. High in caffeine- Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant and as such causes a group of symptoms in the user that are characteristic of stimulant drugs: wakefulness, alertness, increased energy etc. When the effect of the caffeine wears off the energy is replaced by fatigue, drowsiness, irritability and sometimes depression. Continual, heavy use of caffeine can lead to addiction and a series of mood swings that can play a role in increased stress levels.
4. Deficient in water-soluble vitamins- Vitamin C and the B complex which is comprised of several B vitamins are referred to as the 'water soluble' vitamins. The functions of these vitamins are too numerous to mention here but for the purpose of this discussion it is important to note that a properly functioning nervous system requires sufficient amounts of water soluble vitamins. Prolonged stress states deplete vitamin C while other energy yielding processes require B vitamins. Since water-soluble vitamins are not stored in great quantities in the body and since they are required for so many important processes, they should be included generously in ones daily diet.
5. High in alcohol¬Heavy alcohol consumption can lead to vitamin deficiencies. People who use alcohol may provide much of their daily energy (calorie) needs through alcohol consumption. Since alcohol and alcoholic beverages are deficient in "supporting nutrients" and since, the metabolism of alcohol in the body uses up several B vitamins the person who engages in this practice routinely may develop nutrient deficiencies.
6. High in nicotine- Nicotine is an addictive drug found in cigarette, cigar and smokeless tobacco. As a stimulant drug it causes increased heart rate and blood pressure. Cigarette smoking is associated with increased incidence of death from lung cancer and heart disease.
6. RECOMMENDATIONS
1. Decrease your intake of sugar especially refined sugar. Read labels.
7. Cut down your sources of salt to no more than 2200 mg/day. Fast, packaged, and canned foods are notoriously high in salt.
8. Drink no more than the equivalent of two cups of coffee per day (250 mg) or less.
9. Seek out and consume good sources of water-soluble vitamins and if you are unsure, take a vitamin supplement with amounts of the water-soluble vitamins equalling no more than 100% of the RDA.
10. Drink no more than the equivalent of two drinks of alcohol per day.
11. Don't smoke and if you do find a program to help you quit.
12. Get regular exercise.

Exercise regularly
It cannot be stated emphatically enough that exercise is an important way to reduce stress levels. Both physically and mentally, exercise can function to alleviate distress, and help lessen a person's susceptibility to stressors.

Practice stretching and/or yoga
Both of these activities provide a physical means for counterbalancing the physical stresses you are experiencing.

Dealing with Mind Stress
The following interventions can be used when your stresses result from negative thinking or from a tendency to mentally create problems or unrealistically exaggerate problems.

• Develop and take "Star Treks"
A Star Trek is just another name for mental imagery, or visualization. Just as on TV when they "beam" people back and forth, you can mentally transport yourself to the most peaceful, relaxing place that you can think of. Imagine a beautiful beach scene or lying in an outdoor hot tub on a warm summer night. Whatever you imagine, be sure to pay attention to each detail.
• Take five or ten minutes out of your day for "Trekking".

Find health enhancing phrases and repeat them regularly
Write little notes to yourself which say, "Smile more today" or, "Don't take things too seriously", or whatever else might reinforce a relaxed state of mind. Post these little notes in places where you are likely to see them often (bathroom mirror, refrigerator door, etc.). Or perhaps, enlist the help of a friend. You can write these little notes to each other and leave them in places where they are sure to be found. This practice can help to remind you that you have a tendency toward mind stressing.

Practice meditation and/or prayer
In the West, the techniques of meditation are often extracted from their Eastern religious traditions and provide simple methods for focus and concentration. A by-product of this focus is stress reduction. Meditation techniques have been shown to be effective in reducing heart rate and blood pressure, two common indicators of stress. Prayer can be used by those who are comfortable in a religious context. Prayer also allows focus (on God or on specific words of wisdom) and, as a result, often leads to a reduction in stress levels.

Create Mandalas
A Mandala is a drawing that is made inside of a circle (usually). It is essentially a vehicle for concentrating the mind. Using a pie pan or a small plate, one can trace a circle on a piece of paper. Then, just start drawing. You can draw shapes, lines and pictures. The Mandala is an expression of your subconscious thoughts and feelings, and therefore should be constructed with great care and concentration. It often helps to use colored pencils in order to more accurately portray your feelings.

Approaches to Stress Management

Both organizations and individuals are highly concerned about stress and its effects. In attempting to manage stress, they have three broad options –prevent or control it, escape from it or learn to adapt to it (handle its symptoms). These steps are aimed at reducing or eliminating stressors for employees. Some employees can escape stress by requesting job transfers, finding alternative employment, taking early retirement or acquiring assertiveness skill that allow them to confront the stressor.

Social Support

Some people experience stress because they are detached from the wold around them; they lack warm interpersonal relationships. Individuals with driving ambition and strong need for independence may fail to develop close attachments to frinds and collegues. To achieve their lack of social attachments may result in anger, anxiety and loneliness –all producing stress in their lives.

Social support is the network of helpful activities, interactions and relationships that provides an employee with the satisfaction of important needs. There are four types os support in a total network; instrumental, informational, evaluative and emotional.

Relaxation
Some employees have turned to various means of mental relaxation to adjust to the stresses in their lives. Patterned after the practice of meditation, the relaxation responce involves quite, concentrated inner thought in order to rest the body physically and emotionally. It helps remove people temporarily from the stressful world and reduce their symptons of stress. The ideal ingredients of this relaxation effort involve:

-A confortable position in a relatively guiet location.
-Closed eyes and deep, confortable breaths
-Repetition of a peaceful word or focus on a pleasant mental image
-Avoidance of distracting thoughts and negative events
-Soothing backround music

Biofeedback
A different approach for working with stress is biofeedback, by which people under medical guidance learn from instrument feedback to influence symptoms of stress, such as increased heart rate or severe headaches.

Sabbaticals
Whereas relaxation and biofeedback are methods for coping with stress, sometimes it is wisest to at least temporarily remove yourself from it. Some employers, recognazing this need for employees to escape, have created programs allowing sabbatical leaves to encourage stress relief and personal education. Some sabbaticals provide unpaid time off, others give partially paid leaves and a few continue full pay while employeea are away. Most employees return emotional refreshed, feel rewarded and valued by their employees.

Personal Wellness
In general, here is a trend toward in-house programs of preventive maitenance for personal wellness that are based on research in behavioral medicine. Corporate wellness centers may include disease screening, health education and fitness centers. Health care specialists can recommend practices to encourage changes in lifestyle, such as breathing regulation, muscle relaxation, positive imagery, nutrition management and exercise, enabling employees to use more of their full potential. Clearly a preventive approach is preferable for reducing the cause of stress, althought coping methods can help employees adapt to stressors that are beyond direct control.

Employee Counseling
What Counseling is?

Counseling is discussion with an employee of a problem that usually has emotional content in order to help the employee cope with it better. Counseling seeks to improve employee mental health and well-being. Good mental health means that people

1-Feel comfortable about themselves,
2-Right about other people,
3-Able to meet the demands of life.

Counseling may be performed by both professionals and nonprofessionals.
Counseling usually is confidential so that employees will feel free to talk openly about their problems. It also involves both job and personal problems, since both types of problems may affect an employee’s performance on the job.

Need for Counseling

The need for counseling arises from a varienty of employee problems, including stress. When these problems exist, employees benefit from the understanding and guidance that counseling can provide.

Most problems that require counseling have some emotional content. Emotions are a normal part of life. Nature gave people their emotions and these feeling make people human. One the other hand, emotions can get out of control and cause workers to do things that are harmful to their own best interests and those of the firm. They may leave their jobs because of triflinf conflicts that seem large to them or they may undermine morale in their departments. Managers want their employees to maintain good mental health and to channel their emotional along constraction lines so that they will work together effectively.

What Counseling Can Do?

The general objectives of counseling are to help employees grow in self-confidence, understanding, self-control and ability to work effectivey.

The counseling objective is achieved through one or more of the following counseling functions. The six activities performed by counseling.

1-Advice
Many people view counseling as primarily an advise-giving activity but in reality this is only one of several functions that counseling can perform. The giving of advise requires a counselor to make judgments about a counselee’s problems and to lay out a course of action.

2-Reassurance
Counseling can provide employees with reassurance, which is a way of giving them courage to face a problem or a feeling of confidence that they ae pursuing a suitable course of action.
One trouble with reassurance is that the counselees do not always accept it. They are smart enough to know that the counselor can’t know that the problem will come out all right.

3-Communication Counseling can improve both upward and downward communication. In an upward direction, it is a key for employees to express their feeling to management. Counseling also achieves downward communication because counselors help interpret company activities to employees as they discuss problems related to them.

4-Release of Emotional Tension
An important function of nearly all counseling is release of emotional tension; this release is sometimes called emotional catharsis. People tend to get an emotional release from their frustrations and other problems whenever they have an opportunity to tell someone about them
They are more relaxed and their speech is more coherent and rational. 5-Clarified Thinking
The case of Irwin also illustrates another function of counseling, that of clarified thinking.
Clarified thinking tends to be a normal result of emotional release but a skilled counselor can aid this prosess. In order to clarify he counselee what is right. The result of any clarified thinking is that a person is encouraged to accept responsibility for emotional problems and to be more realistic in solving them.

6-Reorientation
Another function of counseling is reorientation of the counselee. This is more than mere emotional release or clear thinking about problem. Reorientation involves a change in the employee’s psychic self through a change in basic goals and values. The manager’s job is to recognize those in need of reorientation before their need becomes severe so that they can be referred to proffissional help in time for successful treatment

Types of Counseling

Directive counseling is the process of listening to an employee’s problem, deciding with the employee what should be done and then telling and motivating the employee to do it. Directive counseling mostly accomplishes the counseling function of advice but it also may reassure, communicate, give emotional release and clarify thinking.

Nondirective (client-centered) counseling is at the opposite end of the continuum. It is the process of skillfully listening to and encouraging a counselee to explain troublesome problems, understand them and determine appropriate solutions. It focuses on the counselee rather than on the counselor as judge and adviser; thus it is client-centered. Managers can be use the nondirective approach;however , care should be taken to make sure that managers aren’t so oversold on it that they neglect their normal directive leadership responsibilities.

Use By Professionals
Professional counselors usually practice some form of nondirective counseling and often accomplish four of the six counseling functions. Communication occurs both upward and downward through the counselor. Emotional release takes place even more effectively than with directive counseling and clarified thinking tends to follow. The unique advantage of nondirective counseling is its ability to couse the employee’s reorientation.

Profissional counselors treat each counselee as a social and organizational equal. They primarily listen in a caring and supportive fashion and try to help the counselee discover and follow improved courses of action.

Participative Counseling
Nondirective counseling of employees is limited because it requires professional counselors and is costly. Directive counseling often isn’t accepted by modern, independent employees.

Participative (cooperative) counseling is a mutual counselor-counselee relationship that establishes a cooperative exchange of ideas to help solve a counselee’s problems.

A Contingency View

A manager’s decision to use either directive, participative or nondirective counseling with an employee should be based on an analysis of several contingency factors. It should not be made solely on the manager’s personal preference or past experience.
However, the manager’s knowledge and capacity to use a variety of methods are clearly critical factors in choosing hoe to proceed

MANAGING STRESS/ SELF CARE

• Successful aging

Doing nothing more than handling a rat for 15 minutes a day for the first few years of life… and the handled rat is spared the entire feed forward cascade of hippocampal damage, memory loss and elevated glucocorticoid levels.

Traits in youth that contribute to successful aging: no smoking, minimal alcohol use, lots of exercise, normal body weight, absence of depression, a warm stable marriage, and mature resilient coping style
Tremendous benefits to being respected in old age

• Coping with Catastrophic Illness – a study of parents of children dying of cancer and their coping strategies. Here are some coping styles associated with lower physical stress responses:
---- One important variable was the ability of parents to displace a major worry onto something less threatening. (ie: when taking a break from the hospital “what if she dies without me” vs “what is the nurse doesn’t have time to read her a bedtime story”).

---- A second variable had to do with denial. (Ie: denying relapse was possible.) Though it should be noted that these parents had the greatest stress response when the child did relapse.

---- A final variable was whether the parent has a structure of religious rationalization to explain the illness. (ie: God choose us)

• Differences in vulnerability to learned helplessness. Even in the face of setbacks, those with lowest stress responses still had the perception that they were in control of their own destiny. Ie; “This is awful, but it isn’t the entire world.”

• We can’t control our infancy, our genes or our parents’ socioeconomic status. The first thing we can do is emphasize what we can change. Exercise will lower blood pressure and resting heart rate and increase lung capacity, just to mention a few things. Psychotherapy can help Type A’s to not only change behaviors, but also cholesterol profiles, risk of heart attack

• Sheer repetition of certain activities can change the connection between your behavior and activation of your stress-response. In one study of Norwegian soldiers learning to parachute, they were examined over the course of the training. At the time of their first jump, they were all terrified - and had been for hours prior. After time, the stress response was only turned on less strongly and only at the time of the jump.

• CONTROL and chronic pain. When patients have the power to self dispense morphine (by pressing a button), their consumption went down. Why? Added control and predictability was given to them.
• CONTROL in nursing homes. When staff encouraged the residents during tasks, performance improved. When staff helped, performance decreased.

• Nursing home and pain studies are encouraging: if manipulating such psychological variables can work in these trying circumstances, it certainly should for the more trivial psychological stressors that fill out daily lives.

• Another nursing home study: residents received visits from college students. Some came by on a random schedule, some came by on a schedule that the residents picked, some came by on a schedule they choose. All residents had reductions in stress levels. BUT the interesting part is what happened after the study ended: in all groups, when the visits stopped, they fell below the level they had started at in the beginning of the study!

• EXERCISE
---- Decreases risk of various metabolic and cardiocascular diseases, therefore decreases the opportunity for stress to worsen those diseases./
---- Exercise improves mood. This could be due to the secretion of beta-endorphin. In addition, it gives a sense of achievement. But it only blunts the stress response for a few hours to a day after the exercise session.
---- It relieves stress in the way the stress response was built for.
---- Exercise may not reduce stress if you don’t want to do it… ie: hard labor can cause stress
---- Studies are quite clear that aerobic exercise is better than anaerobic exercise for health
---- Needs to occur on a REGULAR BASIS

• MEDITATION on a regular, sustained basis (15-30minutes daily), reduces stress responses. Studies are clear in showing physiological benefits while someone is meditation, but is less clear that the good effects persist for long afterwards. Is the good health of meditators due to their meditation, or are people with healthy lifestyles attracted to meditation in the first place?
• Less stress = More control, more predictability, more outlets, more social support! Physical stressor = you want to activate a stress response; but not with psychological stressor. Basal conditions = as little glucocorticoid secretion as possible… but in a real stressor you want as much as possible. Onset of stress = you want rapid activation and then rapid recovery when it is over
• The realm of stress management is mostly about techniques to help deal with challenges that are less than disastrous.

• INTERNAL LOCUS OF CONTROL AND POSITIVE OUTLOOK – is good to a certain extent, but not if you don’t live in the privileged, meritocratic world in which one’s efforts truly do have something to do with the rewards one gets

• SOCIAL SUPPORT – Throwing someone who has been isolated into a social situation can be very stressful also. Don’t confuse social support with socializing.
---- Often, one of the strongest stress-reducing qualities of the social support is the action of GIVING social support –to be needed. Ina world of stressful lack of control, an amazing source of control we all have is the ability to make the world a better place, one act at a time

• RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY
---- The studies about religion and health are controversial. It is religion itself that is responsible for the good health? It has been correlated with lower cardiovascular disease and depression. But most evidence is about healthy people staying healthy – not sick people staying alive or recovering faster
---- Being religious typically gets you a religious community and thus social support, meaningful social roles, good role models, social capital, etc. Also, you are less likely to drink, smoke and engage in dangerous behavior.
---- Religion adds control and predictability to life, if I do X, Y will happen. Plus, if something goes wrong, there is an explanation. Also, if God prefers someone who acts/dresses/etc like you, there is even more control

• COGNITIVE FLEXIBILITY - during times of stress, finding the resources to try something new is really hard and is often just what’s needed.
• 80% of stress reduction is accomplished with the first 20% of effort. It’s not going to happen until you decide it’s really time to change. For example, clinically depresses people feel significantly better simply by scheduling a first appointment to see a therapist. On a certain level, it doesn’t matter which technique you use.

• SUMMING IT UP
---- Hope for the best and let that dominate most of your emotions, but at the same time let one small piece of you prepare for the worst
---- Seek control when appropriate (Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference… by Reinhold Niebuhr)

---- It generally helps to seek predictable, accurate information
---- Find an outlet for frustrations and do it REGULARLY
---- Find social affiliation and support

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