Posts Tagged ‘Motivational’
What do I mean by the above title?
There have been lots of articles and discussions over the last twelve months or so, about looking at the bigger picture and where we fit within it. This progressed into people and politicians talking about how the Big Society, which is made up of individuals, fitted into the Big Picture?
The reason behind all these thoughts and discussions, is quite simple really, because we all play a part in both. And we fit in on so many different levels as well, i.e. as a person what we bring to the world?
Then as a brother, sister, son, daughter, mother, father, etc. etc. then you have the impacts and consequences (causes & effects we provide) whilst we are on this planet. When you look at the interactions we all undertake throughout our lives along with causes & effects they all have, you can see a massive chain reaction which takes place, purely based on an individual action which also has a ripple effect far beyond what we had intended originally.
So politicians at long last have started to wake up and realise their own causes & effects which take place, every time they implement any changes, the subsequent outcomes directly impacts on the business world, families right down the an individual level.
What they have also recognised during this realisation is that everyone has to be involved in the Big Society, from top to bottom. If sections of the Big Society are left out, whether by accident or deliberate, there is always a negative outcome which impacts on society and in turn a bit like a dominos effect carries on long after the initial change.
That is why it is so important for everyone to have the opportunity to be able to play a part within society and to feel valued . We are only here once (as far as we know) so lets all play a part in changing things for the better, remember the Big Society is only part of the Big Picture, .i.e. environment, animals, plants, the world etc. etc.
A fully active and interactive society generates positivity which in turn aids everyone to be part of society and help to shape the Big Picture, so that everyone benefits from the Big Society taking a responsibility for not just the humans but for the greater benefit of the World / Planet.
People most at risk from stress (Further information which I have researched and thought you would enjoy from businessballs.com)
In one US study as many as 40% of workers described their jobs as very stressful. While not a scientific gauge and not measuring serious stress health problems, this gives some indication as to how prevalent work-related stress is. As regards official health records, in the UK, the nursing and teaching occupations are most affected by work-related stress, with 2% of workers at any one time suffering from work-related stress, depression and anxiety. (The figure for teachers rises to 4% when including physical conditions relating to stress.) Care workers, managers and professionals are the next highest affected occupations, with over 1% suffering from serious work-related stress at any one time. UK HSE work-related stress statistics suggest that work-related stress affects men and women in equal numbers, and that people in the 45-retirement age suffer more than younger people. More socially-based USA research suggests that the following American social groups are more prone to stress (this therefore not limited to work-related stress): young adults, women, working mothers, less educated people, divorced or widowed people, the unemployed, isolated people, people without health insurance, city dwellers. Combined with the factors affecting stress susceptibility (detailed below), it’s not difficult to see that virtually no-one is immune from stress. An American poll found that 89% of respondents had experienced serious stress at some point in their lives. The threat from stress is perceived so strongly in Japan that the Japanese even have a word for sudden death due to overwork, ‘karoushi’.
work-related stress trends
Data is sparse and confused (stress statistics are also complicated by metal health reporting in the UK), but the statistics do indicate certain growth. In the UK HSE statistics indicate a doubling of reported clinical cases between 1990 and 1999. Working days lost per annum appear to have been about 6.5 million in the mid-1990′s, but rose to over 13 million by 2001. Greater awareness of the stress ailment in reporting no doubt accounts for some of this variance, but one thing’s for sure: the number of people suffering from work-related stress isn’t reducing.
costs of stress
UK HSE statistics suggest stress-related costs to UK employers in the region of £700m every year. The cost of stress to society is estimated at £7bn pa. (These figures were respectively £350m and £3.7bn in 1995/6 when total days lost were half present levels.)
Stress is caused by various factors – not all of which are work-related of course, (which incidentally doesn’t reduce the employer’s obligation to protect against the causes of stress at work). Causes of stress – known as stressors – are in two categories: external stressors and internal stressors.
external stressors – physical conditions such as heat or cold, stressful psychological environments such as working conditions and abusive relationships, eg., bullying.
internal stressors – physical ailments such as infection or inflammation, or psychological problems such as worrying about something.
From the above, it is easy to see that work can be a source of both external and internal stressors.
Stressors are also described as either short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic):
Short-term ‘acute’ stress is the reaction to immediate threat, also known as the fight or flight response. This is when the primitive part of the brain and certain chemicals within the brain cause a reaction to potentially harmful stressors or warnings (just as if preparing the body to run away or defend itself), such as noise, over-crowding, danger, bullying or harassment, or even an imagined or recalled threatening experience. When the threat subsides the body returns to normal, which is called the ‘relaxation response’. (NB The relaxation response among people varies; ie., people recover from acute stress at different rates.)
Long-term ‘chronic’ stressors are those pressures which are ongoing and continuous, when the urge to fight or flight has been suppressed. Examples of chronic stressors include: ongoing pressurised work, ongoing relationship problems, isolation, and persistent financial worries.
The working environment can generate both acute and chronic stressors, but is more likely to be a source of chronic stressors.
Stress effects on health and performance
Stress is proven beyond doubt to make people ill, and evidence is increasing as to number of ailments and diseases caused by stress. Stress is now known to contribute to heart disease; it causes hypertension and high blood pressure, and impairs the immune system. Stress is also linked to strokes, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), ulcers, diabetes, muscle and joint pain, miscarriage during pregnancy, allergies, alopecia and even premature tooth loss.
Various US studies have demonstrated that removing stress improves specific aspects of health: stress management was shown to be capable of reducing the risk of heart attack by up to 75% in people with heart disease; stress management techniques, along with methods for coping with anger, contributed to a reduction of high blood pressure, and; for chronic tension headache sufferers it was found that stress management techniques increased the effectiveness of prescribed drugs, and after six months actually equalled the effectiveness of anti-depressants. The clear implication for these ailments is that stress makes them worse.
Stress significantly reduces brain functions such as memory, concentration, and learning, all of which are central to effective performance at work. Certain tests have shown up to 50% loss of performance in cognitive tests performed by stress sufferers. Some health effects caused by stress are reversible and the body and mind reverts to normal when the stress is relieved. Other health effects caused by stress are so serious that they are irreversible, and at worse are terminal.
Stress is said by some to be a good thing, for themselves or others, that it promotes excitement and positive feelings. If these are the effects then it’s not stress as defined here. It’s the excitement and stimulus derived (by one who wants these feelings and can handle them) from working hard in a controlled and manageable way towards an achievable and realistic aim, which for sure can be very exciting, but it ain’t stress. Stress is bad for people and organisations, it’s a threat and a health risk, and it needs to be recognised and dealt with, not dismissed as something good, or welcomed as a badge of machismo – you might as well stick pins in your eyes.
Causes of stress at work
These are typical causes of stress at work:
bullying or harassment, by anyone, not necessarily a person’s manager
feeling powerless and uninvolved in determining one’s own responsibilities
continuous unreasonable performance demands
lack of effective communication and conflict resolution
lack of job security
long working hours
excessive time away from home and family
office politics and conflict among staff
a feeling that one’s reward reward is not commensurate with one’s responsibility
working hours, responsibilities and pressures disrupting life-balance (diet, exercise, sleep and rest, play, family-time, etc)
factors influencing the effects of stress and stress susceptibility
A person’s susceptibility to stress can be affected by any or all of these factors, which means that everyone has a different tolerance to stressors. And in respect of certain of these factors, stress susceptibility is not fixed, so each person’s stress tolerance level changes over time:
childhood experience (abuse can increase stress susceptibility)
personality (certain personalities are more stress-prone than others)
genetics (particularly inherited ‘relaxation response’, connected with serotonin levels, the brain’s ‘well-being chemical’)
immunity abnormality (as might cause certain diseases such as arthritis and eczema, which weaken stress resilience)
lifestyle (principally poor diet and lack of exercise)
duration and intensity of stressors (obviously…)
signs of stress – stress test
At a clinical level, stress in individuals can be be assessed scientifically by measuring the levels of two hormones produced by the adrenal glands: cortisol and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), but managers do not have ready access to these methods. Managers must therefore rely on other signs. Some of these are not exclusively due to stress, nor are they certain proof of stress, but they are indicators to prompt investigation as to whether stress is present. You can use this list of ten key stress indicators as a simple initial stress test: tick the factors applicable. How did I do?
loss of appetite
poor concentration or poor memory retention
uncharacteristic errors or missed deadlines
anger or tantrums
violent or anti-social behaviour
alcohol or drug abuse
methods of personal stress management and stress relief
If you are suffering from work-related stress and it’s beginning to affect, or already affecting your health, stop to think: why are you taking this risk with your body and mind? Life’s short enough as it is; illness is all around us; why make matters worse? Commit to change before one day change is forced upon you.
If you recognise signs of stress in a staff member, especially if you are that person’s manager, don’t ignore it – do something about it. It is your duty to do so. If you do not feel capable of dealing with the situation, do not ignore it; you must refer it to someone who can deal with it. You must also look for signs of non-work-related stressors or factors that increase susceptibility to stress, because these will make a person more vulnerable to work-related stressors. These rules apply to yourself as well….
Stress relief methods are many and various. There is no single remedy that applies to every person suffering from stress, and most solutions involve a combination of remedies. Successful stress management frequently relies on reducing stress susceptibility and removing the stressors, and often factors will be both contributing to susceptibility and a direct cause. Here are some simple pointers for reducing stress susceptibility and stress itself, for yourself or to help others:
stress relief pointers
think really seriously about and talk with others, to identify the causes of the stress and take steps to remove, reduce them or remove yourself (the stressed person) from the situation that causes the stress.
Understand the type(s) of stressors affecting you (or the stressed person), and the contributors to the stress susceptibility – knowing what you’re dealing with is essential to developing the stress management approach.
improve diet – group B vitamins and magnesium are important, but potentially so are all the other vitamins and minerals: a balanced healthy diet is essential. Assess the current diet and identify where improvements should be made and commit to those improvements.
reduce toxin intake – obviously tobacco, alcohol especially – they might seem to provide temporary relief but they are working against the balance of the body and contributing to stress susceptibility, and therefore increasing stress itself.
take more exercise – generally, and at times when feeling very stressed – exercise burns up adrenaline and produces helpful chemicals and positive feelings.
stressed people must try to be detached, step back, look from the outside at the issues that cause the stress.
don’t try to control things that are uncontrollable – instead adjust response, adapt.
share worries – talk to someone else – off-load, loneliness is a big ally of stress, so sharing the burden is essential.
increase self-awareness of personal moods and feelings – anticipate and take steps to avoid stress build-up before it becomes more serious.
explore and use relaxation methods – they do work if given a chance – yoga, meditation, self-hypnosis, massage, a breath of fresh air, anything that works and can be done in the particular situation.
seek out modern computer aids – including free downloads and desktop add-ons – for averting stresses specifically caused by sitting for long uninterrupted periods at a computer screen work-station, for example related to breathing, posture, seating, eye-strain, and RSI (repetitive strain injury).
Note also that managing stress does not cure medical problems. Relieving stress can alleviate and speed recovery from certain illnesses, particularly those caused by stress, (which depending on circumstances can disappear when the stress is relieved); i.e., relieving stress is not a substitute for conventional treatments of illness, disease and injury.
Importantly, if the stress is causing serious health effects the sufferer must consult a doctor. Do not imagine that things will improve by soldiering on, or hoping that the sufferer will somehow become more resilient; things can and probably will get worse.
For less serious forms of stress, simply identify the cause(s) of stress, then to commit/agree to removing the cause(s). If appropriate this may involve removing the person from the situation that is causing the stress. Counselling may be necessary to identify the cause(s), particularly if the sufferer has any tendency to deny or ignore the stress problem.
Acceptance, cognisance and commitment on the part of the stressed person are essential. No-one can begin to manage their stress if they are still feeling acutely stressed – they’ll still be in ‘fight or flight’ mode. This is why a manager accused of causing stress though bullying or harassment must never be expected to resolve the problem. The situation must be handled by someone who will not perpetuate the stressful influence.
Removing the stressor(s) or the person from the stressful situation is only part of the solution; look also at the factors which affect stress susceptibility: where possible try to improve the factors that could be contributing to stress vulnerability. This particularly and frequently involves diet and exercise.
The two simplest ways to reduce stress susceptibility, and in many situations alleviate stress itself (although not removing the direct causes of stress itself) are available to everyone, cost nothing, and are guaranteed to produce virtually immediate improvements. They are diet and exercise.