Stress And Work Life Balance

Stress And Work Life Balance



Technically stress is​ the​ adverse reaction an​ individual has to​ excessive pressure or​ other types of​ demand placed on​ them. in​ the​ workplace,​ the​ negative,​ damaging,​ effects of​ stress can arise at​ times when pressures are extreme,​ such as​ peak busy periods,​ but equally can be caused by continuous exposure to​ stressful conditions,​ such as​ being in​ an​ unsuitable job or​ being treated unfairly. Outside work,​ negative stress can be caused by major change events,​ such as​ a​ death in​ the​ family,​ but equally by continuous pressure of​ having a​ life constrained or​ dominated by the​ work situation.

Stress is​ personal in​ that stress affects individuals in​ different ways. in​ similar situations or​ conditions some people cope,​ even thrive,​ on​ the​ pressure,​ whilst others find it​ difficult to​ cope and suffer negative stress as​ a​ result. it​ is​ also personal in​ the​ sense that the​ amount of​ control that the​ individual has,​ over their workplace conditions,​ events,​ and work-life balance,​ will influence the​ amount of​ negative stress that they suffer from. Those individuals with greater control will tolerate and manage stress levels,​ or​ avoid them altogether,​ more successfully.

Work-life balance is,​ literally,​ balancing the​ demands,​ the​ amount of​ time and effort,​ given to​ work and the​ workplace,​ and that given to​ the​ individual’s domestic,​ personal,​ family,​ and social life. a​ vital factor in​ achieving an​ appropriate work-life balance is​ ensuring that the​ work element does not dominate,​ and-or that it​ is​ not causing damage to​ the​ individual through the​ effects of​ negative stress. it​ is​ most unusual to​ find people with a​ work-life balance that is​ dominated negatively by their life outside the​ workplace. it​ is​ almost always the​ workplace activity that dominates and often negatively. For professionals undertaking personal and career development activities,​ the​ positive activity of​ personal development must be actively managed in​ order to​ ensure that it​ does not have a​ negative effect on​ stress levels and cause damage to​ the​ individual’s work-life balance.

The increased awareness of​ the​ importance of​ managing stress and work-life balance effectively has given rise to​ approaches such as​ time management,​ managing stress,​ achieving work-life balance,​ managing personal development,​ and related approaches such as​ coaching and mentoring. the​ tools and techniques within these approaches are valuable in​ helping individuals to​ manage stress and work-life balance more successfully. All of​ these are worth exploring in​ more depth. However,​ here we will focus on​ simple,​ well established actions that any individual can take themselves.

There are some well established,​ simple to​ implement,​ approaches that will help to​ reduce the​ effects of​ negative stress and help to​ maintain an​ appropriate work-life balance. These include: Recognising the​ symptoms that will alert you​ to​ the​ fact that you​ may be under stress. Commonly experienced symptoms are: Poor health - headaches,​ upset stomach,​ sleep problems,​ change in​ appetite,​ tense muscles,​ indigestion,​ exhaustion,​ stomach,​ intestinal and skin problems,​ and heart attacks (extreme but not uncommon in​ severe cases); Personal behaviour - constantly worrying,​ irritated,​ feeling depressed,​ unable to​ cope and make decisions,​ being less creative,​ excessive smoking,​ excessive use of​ alcohol,​ not sleeping; Unsatisfactory work situation - low job satisfaction,​ poor relationships with colleagues,​ focusing on​ unproductive tasks,​ deadlines missed,​ performance level falling,​ opportunities missed,​ poor appraisal outcomes,​ feeling de-motivated; Personal life:stopping social activities,​ being irritated and argumentative with family and friends,​ personal relationships deteriorating.

Many of​ these symptoms can be experienced in​ normal life,​ but become symptoms of​ stress when several are experienced at​ the​ same time,​ or​ when there is​ no obvious cause,​ or​ when one or​ more symptom becomes overwhelming. We need to​ remember,​ however,​ that whilst the​ symptoms often are more visible,​ and potentially damaging,​ in​ the​ workplace,​ they are not necessarily caused by workplace pressures. Many are,​ but not all and not always.

Identifying the​ sources in​ the​ workplace: as​ individuals working in​ a​ business world that is​ continuously changing at​ an​ ever-increasing pace,​ we need to​ be adaptable and flexible. in​ order to​ avoid negative stress we need to​ be aware of,​ prepared for,​ and able to​ manage,​ the​ impact of: time pressures; demanding deadlines; increasing complex relationships with others; peaks and troughs of​ too much or​ too little work; multiple,​ overlapping business or​ work changes; threats of​ redundancy or​ unwanted job change; pressure from senior managers; unfair or​ discriminatory actions of​ management; travel pressures; increases in​ performance expectations; more visible scrutiny through technology and surveillance; requirements to​ undertake continuous personal professional development activities.

Identifying the​ sources in​ life outside work: Outside the​ workplace there are regularly occurring events and pressures that are a​ normal part of​ our lives,​ but which can be either a​ source of​ stress,​ or​ satisfaction,​ or​ both. These include: death of​ friend or​ family member; a​ relationship breakdown leading to​ separation or​ divorce; personal or​ family member injury; moving house; taking on​ large financial commitments such as​ for a​ mortgage; holiday periods where personal relationships are refreshed and renewed,​ or​ put under intense pressure; giving up a​ habit such as​ smoking; the​ birth of​ a​ child; getting married; and so on.

Knowing what your natural response will be: Individuals adapt and adjust to​ external pressures in​ different ways,​ depending on​ their personality type. the​ range of​ types is​ very wide,​ but two broad bands of​ personality type have been identified. Type "A" people are described as​ competitive,​ aggressive or​ hasty,​ whilst Type "B" people behave in​ a​ passive,​ non-competitive,​ slow to​ react way. Type "A" people tend to​ pass on​ stress to​ others,​ Type "B" tend to​ internalise the​ effects of​ stress. Whilst these are established,​ proven categories that most people fall into,​ other factors,​ such as​ age,​ gender,​ health,​ financial situation and access to​ support will strongly influence the​ response to​ causes of​ stress,​ regardless of​ personality traits. Knowing your personality type can be helpful,​ but can only play a​ small part in​ managing stress successfully.

Identifying strategies and actions that will help you​ to​ cope: as​ we have seen,​ individuals react differently to​ stress,​ so each of​ us will need to​ adopt different coping strategies. the​ following are well established,​ proven actions and strategies for managing stress and achieving work-life balance: be aware of​ your own weakness and strengths; understanding and accepting that certain things cannot be avoided or​ changed; taking action to​ reduce or​ remove the​ pressure; breaking down problems into smaller parts and setting targets to​ tackle each part in​ sequence; implementing personal time management techniques; replacing negative relationships with positive,​ supportive relationships; adopting a​ healthy living style; develop outside work interests,​ such as​ hobby,​ educational,​ social or​ sporting activity; undertaking positive professional career development activity; seeking advice and support from others,​ including professionals if​ appropriate; accepting that managing stress and work-life balance is​ a​ permanent continuous activity.

Corporate support mechanisms: Some organisations have recognised that stress and work-life balance are issues that need to​ be supported by corporate action. Individuals in​ these organisations should,​ where appropriate,​ take advantage of​ support mechanisms such as: Flexible working hours: allowing employees to​ organise working hours to​ accommodate important aspects of​ their home lives; Self managed teams:where teams work out their own hours,​ responding to​ each others’ needs; Using a​ buddy system:pairing with a​ colleague to​ provide cover for each other,​ enabling each to​ take time off when necessary,​ knowing that their buddy will take over their duties and responsibilities; Flexible locations:working from different locations,​ or​ from home,​ either regularly or​ occasionally,​ to​ help with family responsibilities and reduce or​ eliminate commuting time; Special leave availability: such as​ paid or​ unpaid leave,​ to​ give time to​ cope with personal crises and emergencies,​ without using formal holiday allowance; Career breaks:for study or​ research sabbaticals,​ travel,​ family commitments,​ or​ voluntary work; Health programmes - offer counselling and advice,​ for a​ range of​ issues; Private health insurance; Fitness programmes and gymnasium membership subsidies; Childcare/eldercare facilities or​ subsidies:workplace nursery or​ subsidised places in​ local nurseries or​ nursing homes. All of​ these are highly valuable support opportunities,​ which,​ if​ available,​ should be taken when needed.

For most managers and specialists,​ in​ all sectors of​ business today it​ is​ an​ essential requirement,​ that professionals undertake courses in​ management development,​ or​ in​ specialist disciplines such as​ quality management,​ project management,​ accountancy,​ human resources,​ or​ marketing. the​ objective of​ this activity,​ from the​ individual’s point of​ view,​ is​ usually to​ obtain higher financial rewards,​ higher status,​ increased job security,​ and-or to​ increased opportunities and career choice. From the​ organisation’s point of​ view it​ is​ rightly aimed at​ improving the​ knowledge,​ understanding,​ skills,​ and ultimately the​ performance of​ the​ individual and the​ workforce collectively. the​ impact on​ the​ individual,​ regardless of​ these contrasting objectives,​ is​ that work-life balance is​ affected,​ pressure will rise and will need to​ be managed to​ avoid this resulting in​ negative stress. For any individual undertaking professional development activity,​ especially those studying at​ home,​ in​ part or​ in​ full,​ it​ is​ essential that this is​ recognised as​ a​ potential source of​ negative stress,​ and that the​ individual builds the​ monitoring and control of​ this pressure into their development plans.

In order to​ manage stress and to​ achieve a​ satisfactory work-life balance,​ it​ is​ necessary to​ avoid the​ most common pitfalls that professionals encounter. These include: Believing that suffering from stress is​ a​ weakness,​ it​ is​ not,​ but positive,​ corrective action is​ needed to​ redress the​ situation. Allowing yourself to​ suffer from stress and an​ out of​ balance work-life equilibrium,​ when simple,​ easy to​ apply solutions are at​ hand,​ is​ a​ weakness; Keeping stress to​ yourself is​ the​ best approach,​ it​ is​ not. All the​ evidence shows that seeking advice and support is​ the​ key to​ reducing and eliminating negative stress and restoring an​ appropriate work-life balance; Assuming that others are to​ blame for your stress and the​ imbalance between your work and your outside work life,​ they may be the​ causes,​ but you​ are responsible for allowing the​ negative situation to​ continue; Cutting back or​ eliminating social,​ sporting,​ or​ personal interests activity is​ the​ answer to​ restoring a​ work-life balance,​ it​ is​ not,​ because these are essential positive elements necessary to​ achieve a​ healthy work-life balance and a​ relatively stress free life; Ignoring the​ warning signs,​ these are easy to​ identify,​ if​ not by you​ then others will see them; Not identifying the​ sources of​ stress and reasons for imbalance,​ a​ simple analysis of​ your situation,​ perhaps with some help from a​ professional advisor,​ colleague,​ partner,​ or​ friend,​ will identify the​ main causes of​ your problems; Not looking after yourself in​ terms of​ health and happiness,​ if​ you​ are unhealthy,​ unfit,​ or​ in​ an​ unhappy relationship,​ or​ not in​ any relationship and are lonely and isolated,​ you​ will find it​ difficult to​ manage stress and your work-life balance effectively; Believing that there is​ a​ single solution to​ your negative stress and work-life imbalance problems,​ there is​ not. you​ need to​ take a​ holistic approach to​ managing your life,​ at​ work,​ at​ home,​ and socially. This encompasses your work,​ your aspirations,​ your personal development,​ your fitness,​ your lifestyle,​ your health,​ your relationships,​ your general attitude to​ life,​ everything that makes you​ an​ individual,​ a​ unique person.

This has been a​ first look at​ the​ links between workplace stress and work-life balance,​ and has been specifically aimed at​ those professionals who are adding to​ the​ pressures of​ workplace and home life by taking on​ professional development activities. Continuous personal professional development,​ for managers,​ professionals,​ and specialists,​ in​ all sectors is​ essential. Even entrepreneurs and those leaving organisations to​ be self-employed risk being overwhelmed by workload and pressures from work-related activities. the​ solution to​ avoiding the​ negative effects of​ stress,​ and maintaining an​ appropriate work-life balance,​ when taking on​ additional personal development workload,​ are the​ same for those in​ organisations. you​ will need to​ be aware of​ the​ dangers,​ be alert to​ the​ symptoms,​ put in​ place defensive mechanisms,​ and then pro-actively manage your work life and personal life in​ a​ way that protects you​ from the​ dangers of​ negative stress and enables you​ to​ maintain a​ healthy and satisfying work-life balance.




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