Identify your Stress Triggers
If you were to type the word ‘stress’ in any internet search engine you will get a billion pieces of information related to stress and the harm it can cause. A general dictionary defines stress as, ‘A specific response by the body to a stimulus, as fear or pain that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism, mental, or emotional strain or tension.’ The word stress is derived from the Latin word ‘stringere' meaning to ‘draw tight' describing hardships.
Everyday millions of people around the world experience stress ranging from mild dosages to extreme cases that lead to several complicated health disorders. Even animals, insects and plants experience various degrees of stress due to several reasons. Dr. Hans Selye, a reputed author of numerous papers and books on stress says headaches, insomnia, high blood pressure, heart and kidney diseases are the common problems created by stress. According to his expert opinion, ‘Every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older.’. When you are stressed your adrenal glands produce a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is highly toxic substance that attacks muscles, organs, and rapidly diminishes your strength. It also diminishes your immune system leading to various kinds of mental and physical disorders. Stress is your body's natural response to every day's physical, emotional and environmental demands.
Many people often confuse stress with plain tiredness. Whenever you ask someone if they are stressed they immediately say they are okay or feeling fine. But the reality is different. You could be highly stressed, but not physically tired. This is because stress is a silent killer and creeps into a person silently. You cannot avoid stress totally in today's life, especially in today's modern, complex workplace. It is a mental thing that has the potential to create complicated health disorders. To understand the difference between stress and tiredness just imagine a hot cup of soup. The hot soup can contain very less salt or a high quantity of salt. The quantity of salt (saltiness) is comparable to stress, while the temperature (hotness) is comparable to tiredness. The saltiness of the soup does not reduce even when it cools down. Similarly, a person need not be physically tired, but could be under a lot of stress internally. For example, an impending tough exam, a court case, losing a job, workplace harassments, dealing with irrational people, accepting a heavy responsibility, etc., can create a lot of stress. On the other hand plain tiredness, usually caused by excessive physical activity or exercise can be eliminated by a few hours of sound sleep, or a good hot bath. But stress cannot be eliminated by sleep or a bath.
Often, people under duress will not be able to identify or sometimes admit the precise reason for their stress, and start feeling the whole world is ganging up on them. Over time stressed people will soon be unable to state exactly whey they are stressed. They feel attacked from all sides, feel unlucky, exhausted and start getting agitated at everything, trivial, big, related or unrelated. And the standard reasons people give for stress will be vague and generic stuff like work pressure, traffic, noise, politics, etc. But pointing fingers at vague and subjective stuff do not help you in finding workable solutions. You need to be exact. But how exactly do you pin point your stress generator without visiting a stress management consultant? Just use a simple technique called - ASKING QUESTIONS TO YOURSELF, similar to what consultants and doctors do when you go for consultation. Through appropriate and pertinent questions to yourself it is actually possible to identify your stress generators, and often eliminate or control them on your own without external help.
So whenever you are stressed in the workplace start asking yourself the following questions. You can add more questions if necessary, but this exhaustive list should be enough to begin with.
1. Are the job requirements absolutely clear in real world terms for what you are trying to do, or expected of you? Or, are you simply chasing hype and jargon?
2. Do you have the necessary tools, knowledge, resources, staffing, training and budgets to do what you are trying to do?
3. Are the timeframes realistic for whatever you are trying to do, or are you chasing artificial deadlines created by clueless people? Are you burning out chasing unrealistic expectations from impatient customers, end users, bosses, etc?
4. Are you working in a humourless department or organization?
5. Are you generally short tempered and impatient by nature? Do you habitually get flared up over trivial workplace issues? Are others expecting you to read their mind and act accordingly? Alternatively, do you expect others to read your mind and act accordingly?
6. Is it a specific colleague(s) who is the cause for your stress, or is somebody constantly breathing down your neck? Is someone out to get you, discredit you or snatch the credit for your efforts?
7. Is somebody's short temper and irrational behaviour preventing you from doing or saying the right things?
8. Are you having financial difficulties? Do you have no control over your spending? Are you spending more than you are earning?
9. Is a corporate rumour about getting fired, downsizing, reorganization, etc., causing stress?
10. Do you have to do everything yourself? Are you getting the required help from your colleagues and other departments? Are you always trying to go out of your way to get things done? Are you trying to tackle things that are not in your control?
11. Is the work you are doing really difficult, or are you just dealing with difficult and irrational customers and bosses who create panic and terror to cover up their inadequacies?
12. Are you worrying about something that happened in the past or may happen in the future?
13. Do you have any known health problems that could be causing stress? Have you had a complete health check up to detect hidden health disorders? Is a family member's health or behaviour creating stress and agitation in the workplace?
14. Are you trying to reinvent the wheel in getting a job done? Can you get tips, procedures and suggestions from someone who has done such things already?
15. If your life controlled by emails, pagers, mobile phones, blogs, iPODs, laptops and other electronic leashes?
16. Are you working in a badly managed project? Is everything in your organization or department urgent and chaotic due to poor planning, an impatient boss, etc? Is your department understaffed and overworked?
17. Are you taking care of your health and rest properly? Are you getting your eight hours of calm sleep daily?
18. Are you trying to please or seek admiration from everyone? Are you an appreciation seeking addict? Is somebody's urgency or poor planning an emergency for you?
19. Do you wear uncomfortable and tight clothes to work? Uncomfortable clothes, tight neckties and certain nylon materials can often cause a lot of fatigue and agitation without you realizing why.
20. Are you bad at time management? Are there too many things on your plate? Can you ignore or eliminate the unnecessary ones?
21. Are family problems creating hell at work? Are work problems creating hell at home?
22. Do you have too much work? Do you have very less or no work? Very less work can also create anxiety about the continuity of your job.
And the questions can go on further or depending on the nature of your work the list of questions can change. But as you can see, precision questions like above can often pin point the exact cause of your stress. Next eliminating that stress will be in the precision answers you can provide, solutions you can gather or the specific actions you can take to reduce them. The solutions may not drop in overnight but you can definitely find solutions over time to switch to the right stress reduction lane gradually. And we can conclude this chapter with two beautiful quotes on questions by Anthony Robbins.
‘Questions provide the key to unlocking our unlimited potential.’
‘Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.’
Happy self interrogation
Article Author - Thejendra B.S
Web Cave - www.thejendra.com
Note: You may freely publish any of my articles intact on your website or newsletter as long as you include the signature box above.