How Stressed Are You?
…a major source of stress for American adults.
The costs are high for individuals and corporations. For example, the losses are reflected in absenteeism, low productivity, employee turnover, accidents, and various fees—medical, legal, insurance—and so on.
According to the Harvard Gazette, throughout the United States, stress in the workplace has reached an all-time high. Those in charge are advised to pay attention to the disastrous effects of job-related stress, if they want healthier employees and bigger profits.
There are serious health consequences to “being stressed out.”
Studies show that stress tends to account for sixty to ninety percent of all medical office visits in the United States. Stress also correlates to risk of cardiovascular disease, back and upper extremity disorders, depression and burnout, workplace injury, and ulcers.
According to one study, middle managers suffer the most stress since they are stuck between the higher power leaders and those they manage. What about you and the stress you experience in your leadership role? Ask:
“Is stress distracting me from my role and responsibilities?”
Self-Check: Is stress functioning as a distraction at work?
Begin to scratch the surface of your stress with a few questions.
Read each statement and check all statements that apply to you. Visualize events that occurred over the past weeks and then write next to each statement the degree to which you were distraction by stress. Write a letter in the space, using an R for rarely, S for sometimes, and O for often.
__ 1. I feel stressed before I begin certain tasks or responsibilities.
__ 2. I have intrusive thoughts when I try to pay attention for any length of time.
__ 3. I have to stop an activity because of symptoms of stress such as a headache or jitters.
__ 4. I’m jumpy and can’t seem to concentrate long enough to read instructions or access resources.
__ 5. Others say I’m moody and irritable, that I appear stressed.
__ 6. When I feel stressed, I experience more disorganization and forgetfulness that usual.
If you checked more than one or two items, you could be experiencing a degree of stress that interferes with your performance.
Self-Help for Stress-Management
A good method of self-assessment is to keep a stress diary. Ask, “What are my patterns and stress consequences?” To answer, track your stress triggers and reactions for a week or two. Follow these steps:
- Note the day and time a stressful event occurs. This can be noted on your phone calendar.
- Visualize the stress episode and identify the physical or emotional stress symptoms you experienced. Note any inability to concentrate or symptoms such as irritability, restlessness, headaches, tightness in your neck, and so on.
- Note the conditions existing before and after the stressful reactions you identified. Ask, “What happened just before I felt stressed? Did I begin to worry that my work isn’t complete or feel irritated about communication with others?
- Review when, and for how long, you experience stress during a day or week. Then consider how the stress affects your ability to pay attention to critical tasks and responsibilities. Ask, “What are the consequences of my stress on my performance?”
When Too Much Stress is Too Much Stress
Once you engage in a self-check of stress, ask:
“How serious is my stress condition on a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being the most serious level of stress?”
If your stress-o-meter reads near the red or danger zone, don’t ignore the stress. Begin to deal with it as a potential barrier to your leadership role. Reach in for greater self-awareness and reach out to others about ways to circumvent it or better manage it.
Talk about the results with a friend or counselor who can help you decide how acute the stress is as well as ways to reduce or better manage the workplace stress.
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