Stress – we all experience it during our jobs at some point, but what is it and how do we control it? Stress is defined as a condition or feeling that we experience when we feel that demands are greater than the resources we have available. We experience stress when we feel out of control because we believe that we do not have the time, resources, or knowledge to handle a situation. Stress can lead to issues such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, depression, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. In the workplace, it can cause “burnout”, impact our ability to perform our jobs well, and affect our relationships with others.
The first step to managing stress is understanding the cause. Keeping a stress diary can help pinpoint the source as you write down stressful events and why they make you feel stressed. Next, manage stress by taking action-oriented measures such as managing your time, approaching issues involving others from a different angle, or improving your working environment. Combine these with emotion-oriented measures like changing the way you perceive stressful events and learning to think positively. The final step (and possibly the most important) is to realize that some events are out of your control, but techniques such as meditation and other relaxation methods, exercising, getting enough sleep, and taking advantage of the friends and family who are your support network can help keep stress at a manageable level.