Coping strategies for stress

When we look at stress from organizational point of view, management may not be concerned about the low to moderate levels of stress experienced by the employees. The reason is, that some functional level of stress is necessary to improve employee performance. But high levels of stress and sustained low levels of stress are a cause of action by the management. But when we look at stress from individual's point of view even the low levels of stress are perceived to be undesirable. Keeping this in mind we can discuss the individual and organizational approaches towards managing stress. Before discussing these approaches, we must keep in mind two points :

(i) Firstly, we must not make any generalization. Each of us have different limits, different optimum stress levels and will perceive the sources of stress differently. One person's overstress may be another person's challenge and optimum stress.

(ii) Secondly, we need to differentiate between what we can do to equip ourselves and to organise our environment to prevent us from becoming over or under stressed. We label this as Prevention. Yet, however, well, we prepare ourselves and try to control our environment from time to time, we will still experience undesirable stress. It is then that we need to have developed Management Skills.

Now we discuss the individual's and organizational approaches to managing stress.

Individual approaches

As we know that stress has got a number of negative consequences for the individuals, that is why every individual should take personal responsibility for reducing his or her stress level. There are a number of ways by which a person can either avoid stressful conditions, change them or learn to cope with them. Stress can be managed by an individual, which will enable him to regain control over his life. Some of the stress reducing strategies from individual's point of new are :

1. Knowledge About Stress : in the first stage, an individual should become knowledgeable about stress. He should know about the process and effects of stress. He must find out the major sources of his stress. He must anticipate stressful periods and plan accordingly in advance. He must be honest with himself and decide what he can cope with what he cannot.

2. Physiological Fitness : Exercise in any form can help people in coping with the stress. Non competitive physical exercise such as aerobics, walking, jogging, swimming, riding a bicycle, playing softball or tennis have been recommended by physicans as a way to deal with excessive stress levels. There is evidence to suggest that individuals who exercise are much less likely to suffer from certain types of stress related exercises. With proper exercise, diet control and nonsmoking habits, blood pressure and cholesterol become controlled and the body becomes more resistant to pressures. People are more likely to get physically sick or emotionally depressed if they are over weight or poorly nourished.

3. Time Management : Most of the people are very poor in managing the time. They do not know that what must be done and when it would be desirable to do so. The result of poor time management is feeling of work overload, skipped schedules and tension. A well organized person can often accomplish twice as much as the person who is poorly organized. Therefore, an individual must understand how to manage his time so that he can cope with tensions created by job demands. A few of the well known time management principles are :

(i) Preparing a daily list of activities to be attended to.

(ii) Prioritizing activities by importance and urgency.

(iii) Scheduling activities according to the priorities set.

(iv) Knowing your daily schedule and handling the most demanding parts of a job when you are most alert and productive.

4. Assertiveness : An individual should become assertive. He should not say 'Yes' when he wants to say 'No'. He should start saying No to people or managers who demand too much of his time. Being assertive is an important factor in reducing stress.

5. Social Support Network : Every person should have people to turn to, talk to and rely upon. Good friends become highly supportive during times of stress and crisis. Social network includes friends, family or work colleagues. Expanding your social support system can be a means for tension reduction because friends are there when needed and provide support to get the person through stressful situation.

6. Readjust life Goals : Every individual must know what he really wants to do. This should relate to not only the major decision of the life but to all activities in our life. He must know what is important for his. Because of the severe competition in life to go ahead, most individuals set very high standards and goals for themselves. These high expectations and limited resources to reach such expectations result in stress. Accordingly, every person must readjust his goals and make sure he has ability and resources to reach such goals. Perhaps the goals should be established after the resources have been analysed.

7. Relaxation Techniques : Every individual must teach himself to reduce tension through relaxation techniques such as Yoga, mediation, hypnosis and biofeedback. 15-20 minutes a day of deep relaxation releases tension and provides a person with pronounced sense of peacefulness. Deep relaxation condition will bring significant changes in heart rate, blood pressure and other physiological factors. Yoga is probably the most effective remedy for stress. Studies have revealed that Yoga has cured several stress related diseases.

8. Plan Your Life in Advance : So many times, people create situations which induce stress because they either did not plan or did a bad job of planning. The traditional Indian attitude of "Whatever will be, will be" a way of accepting the unexpected difficulties in life. This attitude may be relevant in those situations over which we do not have any control like death in the family, but for other events in life, it is better to plan in advance, so that we can confront them with confidence when they occur.

 
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