Example #1 – Coping With Stress In An Organization
Since the beginning of mankind, there has always been some kind of stress affecting how people feel, act, and cope with situations. In this paper, we will look at the definition of stress and what causes people to have stress. Then we will see how different people handle stress and show how not all individuals have the same tolerance for stress.
The next thing that will be discussed is how managers in organizations can recognize and reduce the negative effects that stress has on the worker and the organization. Finally, we will consider what kind of stresses there are in military organizations and how they can be controlled.
II. DEFINING STRESS
Robert C. Dailey, in his book Understanding People In Organizations, defines stress as? any demand made on the body that requires psychological or physical adjustment.? Many people think of stress as always being something bad.
However, stress sometimes can be good. Stress is part of everyday life. It can have a motivating effect or a demotivating effect. Each of us has our own level of how much stimulation or stress we need in our lives to keep us from getting bored. Others, however, have a much lower tolerance for stress stimuli.
So managers must be able to look at each individual and decide if the individual has a high or low tolerance for stress. Managers can do this only if they have a good understanding of what causes stress.
III. TYPES OF STRESS
Stress can come from a multitude of different reasons, but for simplicity, let’s break it down into two forms: individual induced stress and physical environmental stress. Individual stress includes things such as role conflict, role ambiguity, work overload, and responsibility for others.
Role conflict occurs when accomplishing one job inhibits or greatly reduces the chance of completing another assigned task. In this case, the person who is tasked to do the jobs will incur some type of stress while trying to figure out how to get both tasks accomplished in the given amount of time.
How much stress and if it will impact the individual positively or negatively will depend on the experience level of the individual. Role ambiguity is when an individual is not sure of what their job entails. It makes it hard for a person to decide on what their priorities are and how to manage their time. Ambiguity can come from a number of different things.
A transfer, promotion, new boss, or new co-workers can all cause an individual to experience some type of role ambiguity and added stress. Both role conflict and role ambiguity relate to job dissatisfaction, lower level of self-confidence, and sometimes elevated blood pressures.
2. When these occur an individual’s motivation decreases, family problems surface, and depression sets in.
Another form of individual induced stress is work overload. There are two forms of work overload: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative occurs when a person has too many things to accomplish and not enough time to do them in.
Qualitative overload on the other hand is when the individual doesn’t have enough experience or expertise to accomplish the task(s) at hand. Both of these types of stressors are very detrimental to an individual’s health. In fact, because employees feel as if they are doing two or more jobs at once and have no time to themselves they experience elevated cholesterol, blood pressure, and pulse rate.
3. Another factor that affects employees is when they have or feel they have the responsibility for other co-workers. This can happen not only to managers but also to other employees who may be group leaders or even union leaders. When you start adding up all of these individual responsibilities the potential for employees having some sort of job-related stress is very high.
Now let’s move on to the physical work environment stressors. When people think of a physical work environment they usually think of some type of hard labor. But it’s not confined only to physical labor, it also encompasses other factors such as noise, temperature, lighting, and pollution.
4. So that means even people in business and people in construction both have some kind of physical work environment stressors. Stress from noise doesn’t have to be caused by loud sounds. It could be the sound of the air conditioner or maybe even the silence of someone who is sitting next to you and you know they are watching what you do. Temperature also adds to the frustration and therefore causes stress.
Whether it’s from working out in the blazing sun or from sitting beside the air conditioner, they both can lead to stressful situations. Light can cause stress because of being too high, too low, or the wrong type. Any of these can make a person strain their eyes thus make them more susceptible to stress. When you put all the individual and physical stressors together you can see why job stress is drawing more and more attention.
IV. HOW TO HANDLE STRESS
Although every person handles stress in their own particular way they all basically go through the same stages. Professor Hans Selye called these stages the ‘general adaptation syndrome’.
5. He says that the body adjusts to stress in three stages; (1) alarm reaction, (2) adaptation, and (3) exhaustion.
An alarm reaction is where a person first becomes aware of whatever the stressor is. In this stage, the body activates its defensives. Some of the notable traits are higher blood pressure, rapid breathing, faster heart rate, and muscle tension. In the adaptation stage, the body tries to identify which system it needs to use to deal with the long term effect of whatever is causing stress.
Then the body moves into the exhaustion stage. This is where the body is totally depleted of its adaptive energy. The body also can revert back to the symptoms of the alarm reaction stage.
6. From having a basic understanding of how a person’s body reacts to stress, managers have a better insight on what to look for when trying to figure out what the limits are of their personnel.
V. RECOGNIZING STRESS
The best way to learn how to notice signs of stress in other people is to become aware of your own types of symptoms. There are many warning signs available to us. A few of them include dryness of the mouth, insomnia, chest pain with no known cause, rapid breathing, stomach pain, and changes in appetite.
When you feel these types of symptoms pay attention to how you react to them. More than likely what you do will probably be the same way others cope with stress. Here are some of the things you might not see in your self that you might notice in your co-workers; drug use, excessive drinking, absenteeism, and emotional outbursts. One of the more serious stress-related sicknesses is depression.
This happens when a person loses their self-esteem and they feel that they have no control over their job. Two signs associated with depression are the inability to meet deadlines and having trouble making decisions while at the same time worrying about both of them excessively.
7. Managers need to be able to recognize these signs of stress in the workplace so productivity won’t be hurt and the quality of life for the employees remains high.
What exactly can be done about stress? The most important thing that organizations can do is try to keep stress at a minimum on the job. Employers need to make sure that they educate their employees about how to handle stress.
This can be done at a formal meeting, at informal group meetings, or by the newsletter. The main thing is to get the word out about stress and heighten individuals aware of it. There are many avenues to take that help to relieve stress.
Physical fitness, nutrition, weight loss, and smoking programs are some of the more popular ways to help ward off stress. One way that employers are responding to employees’ emotional, physical, and personal problems are employee assistance programs(EAP).
8. These programs are set up by the employer with a local medical organization that has the capability of helping employees that have some type of problem whether it be drug dependency, alcoholism, or smoking.
The employer in these programs pays for part or all the expenses of the program. Another way organizations are helping their employees to deal with stress are wellness programs. Many organizations are using these programs and are reporting great results from them.
Companies are beginning to realize that programs dealing with stress-related problems before they become chronic can be a major contributor to the quality of work-life for employees thus enhancing their job performance.
9. Some companies spend millions of dollars each year on wellness programs. One company even paid its employees a bonus’ for any weight they lost.
Although these programs sound like they cost a lot they actually save companies money in the long run. This is because of several factors some of which are less hospital stays, fewer health insurance claims, reduced accident rates, and increased employee satisfaction. All of these lead to a more productive individual and better workforce.
One other aspect of reducing stress deals with specific behavioral techniques for mental relaxation. These are brought out in stress management courses that some companies let their employees attend. They focus their attention on the concept that the central nervous system can’t differentiate between a real experience and an imagined experience.
These classes teach things like deep breathing, muscle relaxation, biofeedback, and how stress can affect them personally and what they can do about it.
10. In today’s society where pressures are becoming more and more extreme organizations, leaders, and managers need to be aware of the stress that their workforce encounters and set up some type of program to help them deal with them.
In the military, there are the same type of stressors as in the private sector and also a few that wouldn’t be found in corporate industries. Military leaders must look at their personnel and see what kind of pressure they are experiencing to be effective leaders. In fact, they need to be even more vigilant for signs of stress because they must be sure that an individual is ready to go to combat, both in a physical and mental state, at a moment’s notice.
VI. THE MILITARY AND STRESS
There are many things that can cause undue stress in the military. They range from worrying about getting promoted to getting a college education and to trials and tribulations of being separated from ones’ family for long periods of time. Some of the things already mentioned before such as responsibility for others, role conflict, and role ambiguity are all present in the military workforce. Stress affects enlisted personnel as well as officers. Let’s explore some of the ways the military and military leaders can help the organization and its members to cope with stress and its effects.
One way the armed forces have dealt with stress in its organization is with EAPs.
11. Almost all bases have some type of program to help members who have some type of dependency. The first step however is usually the hardest, is to identify the people who need help. Most of the programs allow the member to volunteer for help without retribution. Individual commanders also can play a big part in helping members find help.
By making sure their troops know about what programs are available and by having stress awareness training so other members know what to look for in their co-workers, the commander is able to stop chronic stress before it occurs. Another way the services deal with preventing stress is their physical fitness programs. Each unit should support these programs by assuring the individuals have time allotted to participate in them.
Still another way that has picked up steam in the last couple of years is the quality of life working teams. These teams look for ways to improve the quality of living both during work hours and after. So as you can see the military is concerned about stress and is taking great steps in trying to reduce its effects.
We have taken a look at the definition of stress and some of the causes of stress in the workplace. It is important to try and reduce these causes as much as possible so that employees won’t get any stress-related symptoms. Also, it was stated how a persons’ body reacts when it encounters stress. Then the signs of stress that managers need to look for were discussed.
After that, some of the ways organizations can help its employees manage stress were looked at. Finally, it was shown how the military is handling stress among its members. As the world gets more diverse stress in the workforce will continue to grow. It is imperative for managers and leaders to be able to recognize stress, understand its causes, and know how to alleviate it in their organizations so that it can continue to grow and be productive.
Coping with stress and maintaining good health are important parts of maintaining and developing intelligence. (Nick can cope with stress very well. This, among other things, makes him very cool.) One cannot expect one’s intelligence to develop if one is preoccupied with poor health or excessive stress. Intelligence demands a lot of brain processing power and demands to be paid careful attention to.
Stress can interfere with the ability of the brain to allocate sufficient resources to intelligence. Poor health can also preoccupy the brain with pain or lack of energy that is necessary to maintain and develop intelligence.
Culture dictates important priorities in a person s life. If a culture dictates that hunting takes priority in a person s life, then that person will grow to be an intelligent hunter. If a culture dictates that good grades in math and reading take priority in a person s life, then that person will be more geared towards doing well in school.
The important thing to note is that culture dictates what kind of intelligence is to be pursued. An African tribe has different survival priorities than Japanese high school students and therefore emphasizes different things in order to acquire the necessary intelligence.
Also, culture plays an important role in how one deals with stress, and if in that culture there is a lot of stress. In modern America, there is a lot of stress for a person to deal with as opposed to some other countries. Culture also dictates social and economic class.
Class distinguishes what types of stressors we are exposed to, and in what quantity. Thus, one can expect the opportunities for intelligence to be greater in a culture that emphasizes intelligence and those in that culture who are well off. Nick worked diligently on this essay and obviously deserves a 10.
Illness can harm intelligence. Stress attacks our immune system and can lead to illness. When someone is sick, usually they are not feeling well enough to be intelligent. Peptic ulcers cause pain, too much pain to concentrate on developing intelligence. Coronary heart disease may cause mental stress that will distract a person from learning. Also, Nick is very cool and should get a 10.
Psychological disorders can inhibit intelligence. For example, if someone was very paranoid, they might be afraid to go to school. Then they would never learn the wonderful things that school teaches students; like how Nick should always get a 10.
Other psychological disorders can distract one from learning. It is important to note that although psychological disorders can make intelligence more difficult to attain, it by no means eliminates intelligence from a human being. In fact, the latter is the norm, and the former is the exception. Nick rules.
Finally, the last affecter of intelligence, as the reader has seen throughout the essay, is the belief in self-efficacy! No, Nick is not going crazy by writing self-esteem boosting remarks throughout his report; he is giving an example of his belief in his self-efficacy.
Nick is awesome and Nick is one of the coolest people ever! Nick should most defiantly get a 10 on this report. If it was possible to get an 11, then he should get that. Belief in self-efficacy is the judgment of their ability to solve problems. Nick believes that by adopting such an unorthodox method of writing his report, he will get the much sought after 10.
In conclusion, stress and illness can severely affect intelligence. People may be distracted from the brain-processing-power-hungry route to intelligence. Learning requires few distractions, and stress or illness provides more than enough distraction to inhibit learning and thereby intelligence. Nick should get a 10 because he rocks.
While some stress is normal and even healthy, children today seem to encounter many stressful life events at earlier ages. Stress shows itself in children by complaints about stomachaches, being nervous, trouble sleeping, anger flares, and infections.
There are a variety of reasons for children to feel stress. Death, divorce, remarriage, moving, long illness, abuse, family or community violence, natural disaster, fear of failure, and cultural conflict may each heighten stress. Under stress, the heart rate and breathing are at a higher speed and muscles are tense. Multiple stressors worsen the stress level and the length of the stress. Our bodies need relief from stress to reestablish balance.
Reactions to stress vary with the child s stage of development, ability to cope, the length of time the stressor continues, the intensity of the stressor, and the degree of support from family, friends, and community. The two most frequent indicators that children are stressed are change in behaviors and regression of behaviors. Children under stress change their behavior and react by doing things that are not in keeping with their usual style. Behaviors seen in earlier phases of development, such as thumb sucking and regression in toileting, may reappear.
Typically, preschoolers lack self-control, have no sense of time, act independently, are curious, may wet the bed, have changes in eating habits, have difficulty with sleep or speech, and cannot tell adults how they are feeling.
Preschoolers under stress each react differently. Some behaviors may include irritability, anxiety, uncontrollable crying, trembling with fright, eating, or sleep problems. Toddlers may regress to infant behaviors, feel angry, and not understand their feelings, fear being alone or without their parent, withdraw, bite, or be sensitive to sudden or loud noises. Feelings of sadness or anger may build inside of them. They may become aggressive or angry, have nightmares, or be accident-prone.
Just as children s reactions are each different, so are their coping strategies. Children can cope through tears or tantrums or by retreating from unpleasant situations. They could be masterful at considering options, finding compromising solutions, or finding substitute comfort.
Usually, a child s thinking is not developed fully enough to think of options or think about the results of possible actions. Children who live in supportive environments and develop a range of coping strategies become more resilient. Resiliency is the ability to bounce back from stress and crisis. For many children, a supportive environment is not present and many children do not learn a set of positive coping strategies.
According to Aamodt (2009), stress is the psychological and physical reaction to certain life events or situations. Fear, resistance, resentment, change, relations with others, organizational politics, and unfavorable physical environment are the main causes of stress (Aamodt, 2009). Even though stress affects different personalities differently, it could result in grave consequences if not well managed.
Many people often think there is little that can be done about their level of stress. However, the fact is contrary. Individuals should identify their stressors and develop coping strategies aimed at neutralizing and finally eliminating the effects of the stressors. I have in the past adopted various strategies in coping with stress.
There are much stress coping methods. However, individuals often find themselves employing unhealthy and unproductive methods, which end compounding the problem. Such methods include withdrawal from friends and families, the use of pills, drinking, smoking, overeating, and taking out of stress on other people. Even though these methods can work, their results are temporary as individuals soon face the reality of the stressor.
Healthier and effective ways of controlling stress require either situation change or reaction change. Every individual exhibits a unique response to stress, which makes it impossible to have a common method of coping. The simplest approaches to coping with stress, which I have used in the past, including problem identification and solving, acceptance, alteration, self-nurturing, and anticipatory approach also suggested by Aldwin (2007).
The problem-solving approach is a strategy that its applicability is dependent on the determination of the main cause of stress. Once the stressor is identified, it becomes easy to solve the stress as an individual directs his or her energy towards subduing the stressor. For example, if a lack of finances is the main cause of stress, then an individual may seek new employment to provide for the much-needed cash.
The identification of the stressor also opens a window for an individual to explore other adaptation methods, which can be of help in the future such as avoidance. An anticipatory approach, an individual prepares for possible causes of stress and consequently prepares for them before their actual occurrence. Past trends and acquired knowledge can help an individual in such preparations.
For example, a student subjected to last-minute revision pressures and stress for failing to revise in time may expect the same, hence prepare early in the following semesters to avoid going through the same. This method is very effective as an individual can review and continually revise the best method to use every time the stressor reoccurs. Sometimes stressful situations are not only complex but also impossible to avoid.
It is only prudent for individuals affected to alter and adapt to such situations. This involves finding possible ways of changing an individual’s operation to avoid stress from reoccurring. For example, stress caused by coworkers could be avoided by expressing ones’ feelings to the specific workers instead of bottling them up. If the desired change is not achieved, then one can go a step further by changing his or her own behaviors.
Stressors such as the death of people we love, fatal accidents, and illness are unavoidable and impossible to ignore. However, letting such stressors take tall in an individual’s life is also unacceptable. In such cases, the best coping strategy is acceptance. Though hard to take, acceptance is the only way out for individuals facing unchangeable life-threatening situations.
There are other effective coping strategies, which even though I have not used, I would consider applying. Self-nurturing is such an “effective way of coping with stress” (Aldwin, 2007).
Creating time for fun and relaxing, enhance our ability to cope with life’s unending stressors. It is therefore prudent for an individual to engage frequently in healthy ways of relaxing such as, going for a walk, playing with a pet, going adventures, watching comedies, and lighting scented candles.
I have identified the concept of coping with stressors, which related to mental illness from clinical experience. The clinical scenario highlights this concept. I have been assigned A 56 years old female patient diagnosed with “Depressive Episode Severe” at AKHU psychiatric ward.
During the interview, I explored that due to stressful life since from the teenage she was not been able to ventilate her emotions, behaviors, and end up with mental illness. She was suffering from depression for the last 16 years. She had been hypertension for 5 years and 12 years of angina.
Her family history showed that her elder brother had also depression. The patient described her stress full event that when she was around 16 or 17 years of age her mother died then she felt alone and spent her whole day in taking care of her father and household work, she did not marry because she thought if she will then who is going to take care of her father. Even after the death of her father, she decided not to marry in her life and will only look after her brothers and sisters.
She further explained that her younger brother died because of schizophrenia, and that’s her belief that he is in heaven. She was very much attached to him. In addition, she was complaining of sleep alteration due to the tension of household work while sleep. Based on the above scenario patient spent her whole life taking care of her family and did not employ anywhere. This stressful life results in mental illness.
Introduction to the topic:
Every individual’s life has stressors but the problem is, few people cope up with these and few get to indulge in their lives. I found that this is the concept of coping, which is the best fit as per the above scenario. Coping is an essential part of our life. It gives us a positive direction as well as a negative direction to handle the stressors but it is our decision to select which way we proceed.
According to Boyd, M. A (2005) wrote in her book:
Coping is not usually in a person’s best interest to act on his or her initial impulse. Fortunately, thinking usually takes over, and the person begins coping, a cognitive process followed by action. The person begins thinking and acting ways to manage specific external or internal demands and conflicts that are taxing or exceeding personal resources. (p.780-781)
My patient’s coping mechanism was not that strong to fight with her stressors. In this scholarly paper, I will discuss the factors that lead to ill coping, its effects on mental health, and coping strategies that could be implemented to deal with these patients.
Significance of the issue in the Pakistani context:
Firstly I am going to discuss the concept in light of the Pakistani context. It is proved that women have a strong coping mechanism as compare to men as they ventilate their feelings through crying. However, women also have a higher rate of depression and anxiety in Pakistan. Khan.H et al. (2007) stated that “
The prevalence of anxiety for females 39.4% compared to 23.3% for males.” From this point, we can say that women’s coping mechanisms end up with depression and anxiety. My patient’s depression had developed due to her life stressors; one major stressor was losing of parents at adolescence. According to Pakistani research by Kausar, R., & Munir, R. (2004) stated that:
In Pakistan, girls are subjected to discriminating attitudes from family and culture for being a girl. The values, standards, and expectations for boys and girls are different. The presence of a mother can be support for a girl. In Pakistan, which is a patriarchal society, girls feel more attached to their mothers. The death of a mother could have added to their strains hence requiring them to use more efforts to cope with various stresses, which they would have been subjected to.
My patient has less coping mechanisms that’s why she could not get rid of her stressors. Depression also affects her coping mechanism, in that the symptoms arose as she told me in the scenario about her altered sleep due to household work and that is evident in the Pakistani context.