Stress management involves applying a combination of techniques to combat stress, a barrier that inhibits work productivity, relationships, health, and wellbeing.
It is easier to manage stress if we can identify the stressors, the external or internal sources that induce stress. By controlling our reactions, we can alleviate stress and eliminate the hindrances that prevent us from reaching our full potential.
There are several situations that can trigger stress. Dr Karl Albrecht describes four types of stress in his book Stress and the Manager, where he mentions about the most common one, ‘time stress’, it overpowers us in a situation where we have to perform a list of tasks in a time bound manner.
Points to Remember:
- Being organised
- Cultivating the art of saying ‘no’
- Controlling anticipatory stress
- Managing situational stress
- Strengthening emotional intelligence
- Learning to empathise
Points to remember!
An organised person knows how to set priorities. We should make sure that we are devoting sufficient time to important tasks, and our decision to prioritise a particular task can be weighed against a checklist. We can focus on the important tasks during the peak productive hours of the day and leverage our efficiency during those hours. Despite this conscious exercise, there are some exceptions when some tasks are left for the last minute and handling those can become quite challenging.
Cultivating the art of saying ‘no’
It often happens that we tend to accept tasks without thinking if we have the time and capacity to deliver. Taking on additional commitments beyond one’s capabilities leads to fear and apprehensions of nonperformance. In order to minimise stress, we should be polite and at the same time assertive in saying ‘no’ to tasks that magnify the work burden.
Controlling anticipatory stress
As humans, we are naturally inclined to plan our future. We know that our present actions determine our future, and an approaching barrier kindles panic, anxiety, and distress.
- The first step for fighting anticipatory stress involves convincing ourselves that the future event might not take the shape we are imagining. Positive visualisation techniques can help us to concentrate on the present rather than invest our thoughts on an imaginary future.
- Training our minds to confront our personal fears can also reduce stress. By putting extra effort and time into demanding tasks, we can easily battle perceived impediments.
- Lastly, contingency planning is a technique that can alleviate our fears of failure and give us greater control on our minds. When applied to our personal lives, it can help us to identify situations that have a devastating impact and help us to develop strategies to recover from them.
Managing situational stress
Situational stress arises when we have no control over a situation. An emergency, conflict, loss of status, or loss of acceptance within the peer group can elevate our levels of stress. It surfaces almost suddenly, leading to short-term and long-term health problems. Being self-aware and developing conflict resolution skills are appropriate strategies in such instances.
Strengthening emotional intelligence
Nurturing emotional intelligence, an ability that makes us aware of our emotions and regulates them, is valuable in building stronger inter-personal relationships. Emotions control our behaviour and responses to others, and simple techniques such as drinking water, going for a walk, or deep breathing exercises can be used cope with a situation.
Learning to empathise
Empathy is a valuable skill as it helps us to observe a situation from the perspective of others. By acquiring the skill, we can adapt our communication to respond reasonably to the other person’s feelings and strengthen our relationships with them. Likewise, calling or sending an email to a trustworthy friend to share our concerns can relieve our own stress. Numerous websites on the internet provide solutions on tackling stress in everyday life. But each one of us has unique sources of stress, and by using a combination of stress management techniques we can develop our personalised solution.
Shimmi Sharma is a teacher at Sunbeam School Lahartara, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
Batra, P. (2000). Simple Ways to Manage Stress. New Delhi: Think Inc Jeanie, C. (2007). Stress Management. Kolkata: Alchemy Publishers. LINKS https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/ albrecht-stress.htm