What is Stress?
The Canadian Mental Health Association defines stress as a reaction to a situation – it isn’t about the nature of the situation. An employee may feel stress when they’re not equipped with the necessary resources to deal with the demands of the situation, and that would likely drop the employees’ productivity. Some stress, however, can be a propelling force in the workplace as some people view deadlines and heavy workloads as a motivator or a challenge to meet their organizational goals. Consider the performance of professional athletes in the last minutes of a tie game, this is an example of individuals who thrive from stress in their workplace. People who view stress this way often think of it as a challenge, and feel satisfaction when they complete their goals, but if stress is looked at in a negative way, some employees will try and remove themselves from the situation completely.
What Causes Stress in the Workplace?
Job design are the steps administration can take to improve working conditions within an organization, and when done incorrectly can cause stress in the workplace. A well executed job design can address problems such as repetitiveness, work overload or under-load, isolation, and it can promote a better overall understanding of the position. Stress can also be rooted in roles and relationships in the workplace, for example, taking on a large workload with many tasks may be great up to a point, but as tasks pile up the challenge turns into a burden. Roles of managers and supervisors also play a part in determining stress, there are not many employees that would say micromanagement or over-management improved their stress level or productivity. It is important for managers and supervisors alike to realize that although working in tourism and hospitality may be rewarding, it is inevitable that employees will be faced with unpleasant or challenging situations with guests or customers. Turnover in the hotel industry is very high because of this, so a manager that is understanding, takes stress seriously, and is understanding to staff under too much pressure, can be very meaningful in the workplace.
Does Stress Influence My Health?
The scientific community has concluded that stress not only effects us psychologically, but it can also manifest itself in high blood pressure, headaches, and ulcers. Stress can also affect our mood and logic when an employee is tasked with difficult situations. Becoming momentarily distracted, feeling withdrawn or isolated from others, and neglecting responsibilities are all psychological responses to stress that can take a toll on an individual’s mental health. The body will naturally respond to stress, the issue being, its reaction resembles a “fight or flight” response. This response is designed to protect our body in an emergency by reacting quickly, but when this response is constantly in affect, it can put our health at risk. Stress hormones trigger a response that increases your breathing rate to distribute oxygen rich blood to your body, this response has proven to be difficult for people with respiratory issues like asthma or emphysema. Stress can also create changes in metabolism, increase blood pressure and heart rate, cause headaches, and in extreme cases cause heart attacks. If you feel like stress is having an adverse effect on your health, you should speak with a medical professional.
How Can We Manage and Relieve Stress?
For most, stress is a fact of life, we will always encounter stress in our day-to-day lives. It is important to realize that in most situations we cannot get rid of the stress, but instead we can try to make it more manageable. Time management is crucial in maintaining a low-stress environment, creating a schedule and prioritizing our tasks will give us a better idea of where to allocate our time. Managers and supervisors are also responsible for creating an environment where employees feel safe expressing needs and concerns, sometimes when an employee is feeling overloaded, they just need some reassurance from management. Sometimes even changing the way we deal with stress can influence change, try letting go of things that are out of our control and be honest with yourself about what coping mechanisms are effective in combating stress. Making changes towards a healthier lifestyle will promote better mental health and can relieve stress, things like walking, jogging, swimming, riding a bike, and other forms of non-competitive physical exercise are great ways to deal with excessive stress.
Tips for reducing stress include:
- Asking for support when you are under pressure, this is a sign of health, not weakness.
- At least two or three times a week, spend time with supportive friends or family.
- Use a variety of methods to reduce stress. Consider exercise, nutrition, hobbies, positive thinking, and relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga.
- Medication can be great, but it is more beneficial to develop strategies to prevent stress.