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Preventing Stress At Work

Updated on January 22, 2016

Historical Evolution of the Concept of Stress

The concept of stress was first introduced in the field of health in 1926 by Hans Selye. Today, it is one of the most used and discussed terms. Selye defined stress as the general response of the body to any stressor stimulus or stressful situation. Subsequently, the term has been used with multiple meanings and has served both to designate a body response and point out the effects of repeated exposures to stressful situations.

In 1989, after controversial scientific discussions about whether stress was the stimulus or the body's response, the Paterson and Neufeld psychologists began to consider the term stress as a generic term referring to a particular area or field of study.

The concept of job stress, is defined as "the physiological response and psychological behavior of a person who is trying to adapt and adjust to internal and external pressures". Work stress occurs when a mismatch between the person, the workplace and the organization itself is presented.

Stressors mentioned above can be of two types:

  • Psychosocial. They can generate stress due to the personal significance assigned to them.

For example, if you are to speak in public with people you do not know, this can generate a stressful situation. However, for others, this can be non stressful.

  • Biogenic. These are situations that stressors produce certain biochemical or electrical changes and automatically trigger the stress response.

For example, you have to work in low light, because we have to respect some saving measures of the company, or work in local poorly ventilated conditions. All these can cause discouragement and even irritability, which can affect intellectual or physical performance of the worker.

Types Of Work Stress

They are classified as:

Physical environmental stressors, among which are:

  • Noise. Continuously working with alarms, can affect not only the ear, but the performance of work: satisfaction, productivity, etc.
  • Contaminated environments. Working in non-sanitary conditions can produce more anxiety in the professional, affecting performance and psychological well-being.
  • Temperature. Sometimes working in a hot environment, even exposed to intense heat from the sun, generates tremendous discomfort.
  • Weight. Having to physically manipulate large weights continuously, even risky for your life, is a stressor element.

The generation of stress varies from person to person and among them are stressors of the job:

  • Mental workload. The degree of mobilization of energy and mental capacity of professional is at stake for the job.
  • Control over the task. It occurs when the task is not controlled, that is, when the activities undertaken do not match our knowledge.

Organizational stressors: The most important stressors that appear in the organization are:

  • Role conflict and ambiguity. It occurs when there are differences between what you expect and the professional reality of what the organization requires. When it is not clear what has to be done, work objectives and the inherent responsibilities are blur, we can stress significantly.

These factors can also generate job stress.

  • Excessive hours of work produces physical and mental wear and prevents the professional cope with stressful situations.
  • Interpersonal relationships can become a source of stress. If a professional emotionally unbalanced it makes life miserable for his teammates. It is a constant source of stress. By contrast, when there is good communication and interpersonal social support is perceived, the negative effects of job stress are dampened.
  • Promotion and career development. If the career aspirations do not correspond to reality for lack of merit assessment, it also generates a deep frustration stress.

Consequences Of Work Stress

Work stress produces a series of consequences and negative effects:

  1. At the level of physiological response system: tachycardia, increased blood pressure, sweating, abnormal respiratory rate, increased muscle tension, increased blood glucose, increased basal metabolism, increased cholesterol, inhibition of the immune system, feeling of lump in throat, dilated pupils, etc.
  2. A level cognitive system: sense of worry, indecision, poor concentration, disorientation, moodiness, hypersensitivity to criticism, feelings of lack of control, etc.
  3. A motor system level: fast talking, trembling, stuttering, faltering voice, inaccuracy, emotional outbursts, use of legal drugs such as snuff and alcohol, excessive appetite, lack of appetite, impulsive behaviors, nervous laughter, yawning, etc.

Stress also generates a series of associated disorders:

  • Respiratory: Asthma, hyperventilation, tachypnea, etc.
  • Cardiovascular disorders: coronary heart disease, hypertension, heart rhythm disturbances, etc.
  • Immune disorders: Development of infectious diseases.
  • Endocrine disorders: hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Cushing's syndrome, etc.
  • Dermatological disorders: itching, excessive sweating, atopic dermatitis, hair loss, chronic urticaria, facial flushing, etc.
  • Diabetes often aggravate the disease.
  • Chronic pain and constant headaches.
  • Sexual disorders: impotence, premature ejaculation, vaginismus, changes in libido, etc.
  • Psychopathology: anxiety, fears, phobias, depression, addictive behaviors, insomnia, eating disorders, personality disorders, etc.

Work Stress Assessment

Programs of prevention and control of occupational stress should be based on a multidimensional evaluation of the process of stress, that is, those personal, interpersonal and organizational factors involved in the generation of stress at work. It can be concluded, therefore, that stress can not be analyzed in isolation. The study of stress at work will require knowledge of essential elements such as:

  • Stressors: physical and psychosocial work conditions.
  • Perceived stress: cognitive assessment of the individual in its assessment of the environmental demands and resources at its disposal.
  • Moderating variables: personal and interpersonal characteristics that may determine vulnerability to stress such as pattern of behavior, self-efficacy, locus of control, coping strategies, social support.
  • Responses to stress: physiological, behavioral, cognitive.
  • Impact on health, interpersonal relationships at work, job satisfaction, job performance, etc.

In short, to evaluate occupational stress is necessary to use different instruments relating to aspects related to both employment status as the individual. Assessment tools that are most useful are:

  • Checklists to determine the different areas of an organization related to the content of labor and social relations that can cause stress in professionals.
  • Questioning scales that allow to receive information about how they perceive stressors, as well as personal characteristics and strategies for coping with a stressful event.
  • Biochemical and electrophysiological indicators for measuring physiological responses.
  • Questioning about health problems that can be caused by stress.
  • Administrative systems for evaluating, for example, absenteeism and disability.

Causes That Lead To Work Stress

There are many causes that lead to stress in the workplace; some are easier to determine and others can happen to us completely unnoticed by being more complex and subjective to assess.

Among these causes we find:

Certain physical conditions in the workplace:

Let's observe the worker's environment. In what condition is he working? Is there adequate lighting, acoustic and thermal comfort environment? What equipment and furniture is he working on?

The temporary nature of the work:

The continuous need for completing tasks in a set time limit, shift work, the speed at which they have to perform the most demanding tasks assumes stressors and are often the source of sleep disorders, exhaustion and emotional disorders.

The demand for labor:

The search for greater productivity, quality and competitiveness are excessive reasons leading to a workload. We can talk in terms of quantity when excessive demand (overload) is the equivalent of "up to the neck" work. And if we talk in terms of quality, we refer to the training needs and skills to perform the tasks and the difficulty and complexity having as its consequences.

The occupational level:

This point leads us to the tasks performed by the worker himself, his role in the company, when he does not know, where to begin and end his area of ​​responsibility.

Often we do not know what to do or what is expected of us, because the information we receive is insufficient and this lack of control causes discomfort. Sometimes we perform work where we do not use our knowledge and skills and create feeling of wasting our capabilities.

Social relations:

We know that personal relationships are very important, especially taking into account the number of hours spent at work. The lack of communication and social support, lack of personal relationships at work and the difficulty of combining personal life, and family and work are the factors that lead to stress.

The structure of the organization

An excessively authoritarian or hierarchical corporate structure, sometimes even aggressive, with system-participatory, decision-making and poor internal communication influences labor, organizational and psychological climate in the company generating job stress in their employees.

As we see there are many sources of stress and the role of the company is of great importance in the management of measures that will be useful to reduce or eliminate burnout. The company has the obligation to know what level is employee satisfaction, working conditions and act on that basis, because if the worker feels good, the company will benefit much better.

How To Avoid Stress At Work

Much is said and written about one of the problems of the XXI century: stress.

Work is the main source of concern and tension between the vast majority of people.

The first thing to make clear is that there is no magic formula that will make the immediate and radical elimination of stress, but each person has to adapt its own form of combat.

To prevent work-related stress is important to plan your activities, not to leave room for improvisation or the overlapping of tasks. When you have many things to do and little time, the situation will often overwhelm and anxiety and stress will begin.

Nor is it good to accumulate more responsibility than your job requires. The more responsibility you have, the more stress and pressures are generated, all harming your own health. Learn to know your limits and do not bite off more than your body can sustain.

Similarly, to avoid work stress you must marcarte achievable goals and objectives, no utopias or pharaonic projects, which only hinder your wellbeing. It is important to learn to say "no" and not accumulate charges on your head.

Of course, you have to sleep to be rested and avoid burnout.

Sleep is essential for the day with guarantees. The problem is that often the stress and pressure itself doesn't let you sleep; but lack of sleep can also cause stress, and it's a snowball that builds up and affects you.

You always have the option to go to a doctor to help you and put a treatment.

How Can You Cope With Stress

The most common skills coping with stress are:

  • Breathing techniques: It is very useful in the process of anxiety, hostility, resentment, muscle tension, fatigue and chronic fatigue.
  • Progressive relaxation techniques: They are useful in anxiety, depression, impotence, low self-esteem, phobias, fear, muscle tension, hypertension, headaches, digestive disorders, insomnia, tics, tremors, etc.
  • Hypnosis techniques: Highly effective in headaches, neck and back pain, digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue, chronic fatigue, insomnia, sleep disorders.
  • Autogenous training techniques: Useful in muscle tension, hypertension, digestive disorders, fatigue, chronic fatigue, insomnia and other sleep disturbances.
  • Thought stopping techniques: Useful in specific situations anxiety, phobias, fears, obsessions, intrusive thoughts.
  • Rejection technique absurd ideas: Used in widespread processes anxious, depression, hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness, hostility, moodiness, irritability, resentment, etc.
  • Coping techniques problems: Used in phobias and fears and anxiety in certain situations.
  • Assertive coping techniques: Techniques used in obsessions, unwanted thoughts, communication problems and anxiety about personal situations.
  • Biofeedback techniques: Effective processes in widespread anxious, muscle tension, hypertension, headaches, neck and back pain, muscle spasms, tics, tremors, etc.

Conclusion

1. The stress response is a major occupational hazard in today's contemporary business.

2. Feeling stressed depends on the demands of the external environment and our own resources to deal with it.

3. Exposure to stress, causes "stress response", which is an increase of physiological and cognitive activation.

4. Exposure to stress, causes our body to prepare for an intense motor activity.

5. Exposure to stressful situations prepares our body to act more quickly and vigorously to the exigencies of the situation possible way.

6. If the stress response is too frequent, severe or long-lasting, it can have adverse effects on our body.

7. The body can not maintain a steady pace of activity above their means for too long.

8. If you keep long stress response beyond the limits, serious disturbances occur at different levels.

9. In any situation of stress are some features, among which are as more specifically a change or a new situation.

10. The consequences of job stress are multiple in the three levels: physiological, cognitive and mental.

However, there are stress management techniques and validated proven effectiveness.

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