We provide training courses for managing stress, handling stress, reducing stress, in fact all work related stress issues. Over the years we have trained thousands of people to enable them to recognise stress symptoms and causes and have given them stress management tips and techniques to enable them to identify the signs of stress and to beat and avoid it. Our courses have a proven track record in stress reduction and managing stress at work.
“Stress is like an iceberg. We can see one-eighth of it above, but what about what’s below?”
If you are used to thinking that stress is something that makes you worry, you have the wrong idea of stress. Stress is many different kinds of things: happy things, sad things, allergic things, physical things. Many people carry enormous stress loads and they do not even realize it!
TWO STARTING POINTS FOR MANAGING PRESSURE
ADOPTING A POSITIVE OUTLOOK
Your progress will relate to how positive your approach is. Believing that you can gain control of pressure will take you part of the way there, whereas negative feelings will inhibit you.
If you do not have a positive approach, write down six positive statements about managing the pressure in your life:
Mohinder works as the manager of a motorway service area:
‘I had a difficult few months when I began here. Some of the staff seemed to be opposed to me. It was hard for me to do my job properly without the co-operation I needed. I had to come back from a very low point. It’s hard to say how I did it, but I suppose I tried to build on my strengths. I worked hard, demonstrated I was a fair and effective manager. I took firm action when it was needed, but I won the respect of my staff. It meant shutting out some of the unpleasantness and keeping going, being determined and doing a good job.’
Refer back to these positive statements any time your motivation is waning.
Supportive friends and colleagues have an important role to play in controlling pressure. They help you by:
- listening (how often has a problem diminished when you have shared it with someone?)
- providing an alternative point of view
- putting things back into perspective
- providing information
- doing something practical to help.
Supportive friends can also help you to implement your strategy for controlling pressure. You may need a friend
- to take up swimming with you
- to talk through your beliefs
- to help you practice assertiveness.
Yet stress is often a taboo subject, and avoided in conversation.
Alan, local authority careers officer:
‘At one point I had decided to throw it in. The only thing that stopped me was the lack of immediate prospects for other jobs and the mortgage bills. I suppose my turning point was when I talked to my boss and others at work. She made me see that I wasn’t alone. I had adopted an introspective view, carrying the whole weight and worry of the office. Knowing that the others often went home feeling like I did helped. It helped a lot. I felt closer to my colleagues – felt like one of the team. It didn’t seem so bad. Nothing had actually changed but I could handle it a bit better.’
Perhaps you have already overcome this barrier by talking to a friend about the Activities you have worked through so far? Think of a past problem where you were helped by sharing it with a friend or colleague. Consider these points:
- What was the problem?
- Who did you talk to?
- How were they helpful?
- What did it help you to do?
- Did the discussion play a part in solving the problem?
Having highlighted a situation in the past when a friend or colleague helped you sort out a problem, think about other people who could help you implement your strategy for tackling pressure.
In the table below write in the names of people you know who can or do help you in the ways described. You may want to mention the same person in several different situations.
|Types of support I might need|
|at work||outside work|
|Someone I can always rely on|
|Someone I just enjoy chatting to|
|Someone I can discuss my interests with|
|Someone who understands about my work|
|Someone who makes me feel valued and competent|
|Someone I can always rely on|
|Someone who gives me constructive feedback|
|Someone who is a valuable source of information|
|Someone who is prepared to challenge and question what I do or say|
|Someone I can depend on in a crisis|
|Someone I can feel close to|
|Someone I can share bad news with|
Are there any gaps in your list of helpers? If there are, look back at the list and think again. Building up a network of support takes deliberate effort and those people who can help you may not be people you would automatically think of being friends or close colleagues. Someone who annoys you, challenging your decisions and continually asking questions, may prove a help to you, perhaps by preventing you getting in a rut and becoming under stressed, or by helping you find innovative solutions to problems you had not thought of.
You have identified friends and colleagues who can help you implement your strategy for reducing stress. It may be that you are one of the many people who have difficulty in asking for support. Look at the statements below and tick any that are true for you.
- In my opinion, asking for support is a sign of weakness.
- If I ask someone for help, they might use it against me in the future.
- Don’t ask for help, as I don’t want to waste other people’s time.
- Other people might think less of me if I ask for help.
- My problems are my own – I’m not going to involve other people in them.
- Other people aren’t interested in my problems.
If you ticked any of these statements, you probably find it hard to ask for help. However, you should ask yourself how genuine your reasons are for avoiding help. Are they just excuses? Start by identifying people you could turn to who you know will be happy to help you without judging you, or putting you off.
Finally, now you have identified people who can help you in your strategy to reduce pressure, remember to use them. As you work through the course, come back every now and then to this section of Activity 5 and check that you are using the support network you have identified for yourself? Now it’s time to make a start and implement your strategy to gain control of the pressure in your life.