No matter what facet of our lives we examine, it would seem as though stress is unavoidable.
Maybe we experience stress at home, maybe we experience it at work, and maybe we experience it at home and work. Heaven forbid, but maybe we even experience stress while at play. Regardless of where you experience stress, you are far from alone. In fact, everyone experiences stress.
Ultimately, no matter how hard we may try, completely avoiding stress is impossible. In fact, world-renowned stress researcher Hans Selye once famously said: “To be totally without stress is to be dead.”
Stress is not as straightforward as people imagine. We experience stress when we have a physical (e.g., a headache) or emotional (e.g., feeling overwhelmed) reaction to something in our environment. Generally, stress is a negative experience, but there are exceptions. For example, have you ever planned a wedding, bought a home, started a new job or had a child? If so, chances are you experienced positive stress, which some stress researchers would call eustress.
Because Local First advocates, in part, for a healthy and resilient business community, it is appropriate to spend a little time addressing stress at work. Any number of factors can influence the experience of job stress. Some of these factors are linked to the workplace, while others are linked to the employee.
From a workplace perspective, stress can result, in part, from employees experiencing bad management, having unclear responsibilities, having contradictory expectations, having too much work to do in not enough time, or being asked to do the same thing over and over again.
From an employee perspective, stress can result, for example, from one’s personality (e.g., having an overly competitive and hard-driving Type A personality) or coping style, which refers to the ways in which we respond to stressful situations. Of importance is that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health takes the perspective that workplace conditions play the main role in causing employees to experience job stress.
If workplace conditions are the primary cause of job stress, it is likely that your workplace can be changed to help prevent or reduce job stress. For example, NIOSH recommends:
Ensuring a good fit between employees’ skills and the work they are asked to do.Allowing employees to use their skills in meaningful and rewarding ways.Clearly defining employees’ responsibilities.Empowering employees to make decisions that affect their jobs.Reducing uncertainty about career prospects.Providing employees opportunities to socialize with each other.Helping establish work-life balance.In addition to Local First advocating for a healthy and resilient business community, we also strive to help create an environment “that values people, planet and prosperity for everyone.” Surely, taking steps to reduce stress at work will go a long way toward accomplishing this goal. Therefore, our call to action is for you to pick whichever stress-reducing recommendations you are comfortable with and try them. See how those around you respond. Odds are, they will respond favorably. After all, can’t we all use a little less stress in our lives right about now?
Steve Elias is chairman of the board of Local First in Durango. Contact him at [email protected]