Saturday, February 19, 2011

Stress Management for Peak Performance

Stress is the body’s nonspecific reaction to any demand made on it. For various reasons, programs dealing with stress and its related problems are becoming increasingly popular. Long-term productivity depends largely on the dedication and commitment of the company’s employees. Employees are increasingly holding their employers liable for emotional problems they claim are work related.
And, stress-related mental disorders have become the fastest-growing occupational disease. There is increasing evidence indicating that severe, prolonged stress is related to the diseases that are leading causes of death—coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, cancer, emphysema, diabetes, and cirrhosis; stress may even lead to suicide. Some signs that may indicate problems include impaired judgment and effectiveness, rigid behavior, medical problems, increased irritability, excessive absences, emerging addictive behaviors, lowered self-esteem, and apathetic behavior.

Sources Of Stress
Regardless of its origin, stress possesses the same devastating potential. Some factors are controllable to varying degrees, whereas others are not.
The person or event that triggers the stress response, it can be organizational, personal or environmental factor that can become the source of stress.
Organizational Factors—Many factors associated with a person’s employment can be potentially stressful. These include the firm’s culture, the individual’s job, and general working conditions.
Personal Factors—Stress factors outside the job and job environment also may affect job performance. Factors in this category include the family, financial problems, and living conditions.
The General Environment—Stress is a part of everyone’s everyday life and its potential lurks not only in the workplace and the home but also in our general environment. The three-hour commute in rush traffic, the unrelenting rain, the oppressive heat, or chilling cold can all create stress. Excessive noise, wherever it is encountered, can drive some people up the wall.

Symptoms of Stress:

Stress can express following four types of the symptoms:
Short-term physical symptoms: Short-term physical symptoms include; faster heart beat, increased sweating, cool skin Cold hands and feet Feelings of nausea, or 'Butterflies in stomach' Rapid Breathing, Tense Muscles, dry Mouth, desire to urinate, diarrhea
Long-term physical symptoms: Change in appetite frequent colds illnesses
(such as asthma Back pain digestive problems headaches aches and pains) feelings of intense and long-term tiredness, Risk factors (Heart attacks and
strokes Hypertension and headaches Ulcers Allergies)
Internal symptoms: Internal symptoms include Worry or anxiety, Confusion,
and an inability to concentrate or make decisions, Feeling ill, Feeling out of
control or overwhelmed by events, Mood changes, Depression, Frustration,
Helplessness, Restlessness, Being more lethargic, Difficulty sleeping, drinking
more alcohol and smoking more, Changing eating habits, relying more on
Behavioral symptoms: Behavioral Symptoms include, talking too fast or, too
loud Bad moods being irritable Defensiveness Being critical Aggression,
Irrationality, Overreaction and reacting emotionally Reduced personal
effectiveness Being unreasonably negative Making less realistic judgments Being
unable to concentrate and having difficulty making decisions being more
forgetful Making more mistakes being more accident-prone Changing work
habits Increased absenteeism Neglect of personal appearance
Outcomes of Organization due to stress: Continuous stress in working
environment results in some problem in organizational operations like poorer
decision-making, decreased creativity, lost work time, Increased turnover and
more sabotage.

Stress & Job Performance

Stress can affect the performance in positive as well as negative ways. Stress is a dynamic condition in which an individual is confronted with an opportunity, constraints or demand related to what he or she desires, and for which the outcome is perceived to be both uncertain and important. Stress is a complex issue, so let’s look at it more closely. Stress can manifest itself both in positive and negative way. Stress is said to be positive when the situation offers an opportunity for one to gain something; for example, the “psychingup” that an athlete goes through can be stressful, but this can lead to maximum performance. It is when constraints or demands are placed on us that stress can become negative. Constraints are barriers that keep us from doing what we desire. Demands, on the other hand, may cause you to give up something. Demands
are desires that are backed by the purchasing power or affordability.

Managing Stress

Experts emphasize that some stress is healthy and moderate stress is the key to survival.
INDIVIDUAL COPING APPROACHES—There are a number of ways, that
individuals may take to control excessive stress. There are several specific techniques that individuals can utilize to deal with stress. These methods include hypnosis, biofeedback, and transcendental meditation.
Hypnosis: An altered state of consciousness that is artificially induced and characterized by increased receptiveness to suggestions.
Biofeedback: A method that can be used to control involuntary bodily processes, such as blood pressure or heart beat rate.
Transcendental meditation (TM): A stress-reduction technique whereby a secret word or phrase (mantra) provided by a trained instructor is mentally repeated while an individual is comfortably seated.
b. Organizational Coping Approaches—A number of programs and techniques may effectively prevent or relieve excessive stress. General organizational programs, although not specifically designed to cope with stress, may nevertheless play a major role.

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