Identifying & Mitigating Stress #1

By Mark Vickers, Ph.D.

Stress is important. In fact, if we didn’t have small amounts of daily stress we would lack motivation and drive. What paralyzes employees however, is stress that appears endless. Often this type of stress is brought on by job requirements that are a poor fit for the individual’s personality or because of interpersonal conflict. But whatever the cause, the first step in mitigating stress is acknowledging it exists.

For many of us, this is difficult (myself included). Stress has a tendency to sneak up on us, and just like the analogy of the frog in the boiling pot, when our stress gets to the “boiling” point, it’s too late. So what are signs of stress we should be aware of in ourselves and colleagues? The first is an increase in pace. Most people will actually start to move and walk faster when stressed. The second is change in behavior, and is dependent on behavioral style and the level of stress.

Decision Maker:
moderate stress = dictatorial / severe stress = avoidingpicture1-resized-600

Encourager: moderate stress = attacking / severe stress = yielding

Facilitator: moderate stress = yielding / severe stress = attacking

Tracker: moderate stress = avoiding / severe stress = dictatorial

When we see these changes in ourselves, it’s best to stop and identify the stressor. Is it a person, a circumstance, or something else? Ask yourself if you have any power to change the situation. If you do, make a plan to take action. If you have no power to change the stress, you should still make a plan. Think about your options. Talk to others about it. Seek wise counsel.

Lastly, if we see stress in our co-workers (particularly if it is moderate stress) take the initiative to ask about it. Most of the time your concern will be well received and appreciated. We all need to know that someone cares.


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