From Dr. Jane's Notebook

Stress Management at Work

The task of stress management has been a problem for women that's as old as our religion. For many of us, our goal is to nurture, nourish, love, feed, clothe, drive and play with all of the people in our family. On the job, we are faced with many of the same tasks... trying to keep things up-to-date, organized, free of conflict, efficient, and excellent. Tasks fall hard on the shoulders of women. Alot is expected of us... and we expect alot of ourselves.

First, let's define stress. Cavewoman walks in to the cave and finds a bear.... fight or flight response... stress can be positive as it increases heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, pupil dilation, perspiration, getting the body ready for flight or to fight. After the danger is over, all reflexes return to resting state... hopefully. If not, then bad stress remains.

The First task in stress management is to become aware of your stress level. Is it positive and helpful? or Is it draining and destructive? Some of us thrive on stress... others are debilitated by it.

Refer to article on Self-Inventory. This article suggests that you start by making a list of the things that you do... and the things that you want to do. Many of us are over-loaded by things that we are expected to do... things we expect of ourselves. When we get overloaded, we sometimes start making "stupid" mistakes. When this happens to me, I call it "leaking". (forgetting someone's birthday, forgetting to pick up a child or drive a carpool, leaving home without your briefcase, losing things, etc.)

Don't be afraid to reorganize your life, change the things you do, delegate responsibilities when they are overwhelming. Develop your own "importance test" for the ways you spend your time. As Nancy Reagan advised, "just say no". Its hard but it feels good.

Take care of yourself physically. This means buying new clothes to give you a lift, changing your hairstyle if you get bored, remembering to exercise, eating right, getting enough rest, etc.

Its also important to take care of ourselves mentally. See article on stress management revisited. Practice preventive mental health. Take one day a week for yourself and give yourself a break... time to catch up with yourself. Time to attend to your personal needs. If situations that you're involved in are bad for your mental health, become aware of that situation and change it if possible. I recently resigned from a committee obligation stating the reason as "it was bad for my mental health". As a therapist, I can get away with saying that and not get too many strange reactions. You may not give that excuse, but be aware of when your mental health is being affected by situations.

ęCopyright, 1994, 1995, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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Last Updated November 1, 1998 by Gary M. Grandon, Ph.D.