QDM Limited | Counselling | CISM | Critical Incident Stress Management | Well-being & Resilience | Stress Management | Management Standards | Coping Techniques
QDM Limited QDM Limited

Stress Management

What is Stress?

The HSE definition of stress is: “the adverse reaction a person has to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed upon them”.

The term “stress” was first coined in the 1930s by Dr Hans Selye - he thought of stress as “the sum total of wear and tear on the body”.

R.S. Lazarus (1966) said: Stress arises “when individuals perceive that they cannot adequately cope with the demands being made on them or with threats to their well-being”.

Where there is an imbalance between the demands or pressures which your circumstances or environment place on you, then the perceived ability to cope dictates the level of stress. We all respond to these pressures in different ways on different days and our ability to cope is influenced by our individual perceptions, including those of any support we have access to. What triggers one person’s stress may trigger someone else’s enjoyment. The effects of stress are both physical and mental and can remain unnoticed for some time. Recognising the signs and symptoms of stress and controlling some of the pressure is key to managing it.

What is Burnout?

Selye looked at the way in which animals handled long-term stress. What he saw was that, after an initial period of adaptation, they survived very well for quite a long period of time until, then, all of a sudden, their resistance collapsed without any obvious direct cause.

Definitions of Burnout:

“A state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion, caused by long term involvement in emotionally demanding situations.” – Ayala Pines & Elliott Aronson.

“A state of fatigue or frustration brought about by devotion to a cause, way of life, or relationship that failed to produce the expected reward.” – Herbert J Freudenberger

A knowledge of the signs and symptoms, whether mental and/or physical, of everyday stress and a focus on how to tackle it is essential to avoiding long term cumulative effects.

Our external world needs to be balanced with our internal energy reserve in order to cope with pressure and stress. There are many causes of burnout. In many cases, burnout stems from one’s job. But burnout is not caused solely by stressful work or too many responsibilities - anyone who feels overworked and undervalued is at risk of burnout – from the hardworking office worker who hasn’t had a vacation or a raise in two years to the frazzled stay-at-home mum struggling with the heavy responsibility of taking care of three kids, the housework, and her ageing father (care-giver burnout). Factors influencing this time period for reaching burnout include an individual’s lifestyle, personality traits, past experiences, general health, beliefs about self and the world, a person’s coping mechanisms and what they do in their down-time. These factors can influence the way we respond to stress and ultimately affect our susceptibility to burnout.

Organisational Stress:

As well as encouraging a more resilient, effective and productive workforce, the requirement to manage workplace stress is legislative - The Health & Safety at work Act 1974 places responsibility on employers for the mental health as well as the physical health of their employees. Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require organisations to take reasonable steps to identify risks to health of stress at work and to manage it. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 can also cover staff who have long term mental health illnesses relating to stress.

13 million working days each year are lost to stress, anxiety and depression (HSE 2004).

The average time taken off by workers as a result of stress is estimated at 28.5 days per year (HSE 2004).

1 day’s absence (including hidden costs) amounts to an average of £165 per day (CBI 2004).

There are many documented case studies regarding employer ethics and negligence in their legal duty of care. High potential compensation costs relate to claims of stress at work. A proactive organisational stress management programme can build better management/employee relationships through mutual trust and can save on both the hidden costs of staff absence and more obvious things like insurance premiums. A nurtured, resilient workforce will perform more effectively over their career and throughout the challenges of change.

The HSE (Health & Safety Executive) Management Standards represent a set of conditions that, if present, reflect a high level of health well-being and organisational performance.

What are the Management Standards for work-related stress?

Please follow this link to read more on Management Standards

Stress and the Individual

Have you ever heard it said that stress is good for you? Well a little bit of good stress, or eustress is what enables us to get out of bed in the mornings, i.e. our motivating stress, to make an effort with our appearance, do a good job at work, study hard for an exam, put a lot of effort into a family dinner party and so on. As individuals, we all react to life’s pressures in different ways. The pressures and demands of our external environment and relationships trigger or enable this good stress.

So when is it no longer good for us? When the balance of the input of demands versus our ability to deal effectively with them shifts, we may perceive that we can no longer cope. Because it is our perception of how well we are coping which is the deciding factor, this balance will shift in different ways for different people. It will also be different for the same person on different days and at different stages in their life; and will vary with their state of health and wellbeing.

Things like managing our emotions, our ability to express our feelings, recognising the feelings of others, personal beliefs, communication skills, access to support (and our ability to accept it), time management, work/life balance, physical health, our perception of how much internal control we have over things, major life events and dealing with things like grief and change, can all effect our stress levels.

Knowing our triggers, identifying the demands being placed upon us and an awareness of our own personal risks, can all help us to monitor our stress levels and manage them. Armed with some specific knowledge, we can develop personal strategies to help us to maintain a feeling of choice and control, thus enabling confidence to achieve a fuller potential.

Workshops and Courses are tailored and designed to address your specific needs. go to TRAINING

QDM Limited | Counselling | CISM | Critical Incident Stress Management | Well-being & Resilience | Stress Management | Management Standards | Coping Techniques

Website Design by Wyze-Up.co.uk