Tag Archives: stress

MANAGEMENT OF STRESS-WE CAN BEAT STRESS ON OUR OWN

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               Whether at work, at home or elsewhere, both men & women are affected by stress & the difference may be of degree only. An international authority has defined stress as non-specific response of the body to any demand. Though its occurrence is normal, stress may be pleasant (called Eustress) or unpleasant (called Distress), & the agent causing it is called stressor. Even though stress is known for its negative effects on the body (physiological stress) & mind (psychological or mental or emotional stress), researchers have observed that some amount of stress is necessary for everyone, for efficient functioning & it has negative effects, only when, it crosses some threshold value. We should learn about stress causing factors, identify the dominant factors & learn to control & cope with the stress.

            Discussing Physiological stress, in all mammals, including human beings, Hypothalamus at the  base of the brain, becomes activated under stress, which stimulates pituitary glands to release hormones, which in turn, activate adrenal glands above kidneys to produce other hormones, which have wide ranging effects on body mechanism—some activities of body are increased, while others are decreased. Muscles might ache. Pain may result from slow mobilization of lactic acid. Liver may discharge sugar into the blood to provide muscles with excess amount of energy. It might also release excess amount of Cholesterol. Skin may become pale & sweat may increase, to cool down the overheated body system. Pupils may dilate. Salivary glands may stop secretion, producing dryness in mouth. Rate of breathing & heart beat may increase; both resulting in increased B.P. Kidneys may work less efficiently. Digestion may be impaired. Defecation & urination may be prevented. Alternatively, diarrhea & uncontrolled urination may occur. Immune system may get impaired, making one susceptible to disease(s) or allergy. If continued for long, stress may manifest in secondary symptoms like loss of sleep, headache, B. P., hyperactivity, excessive smoking & drinking, diminished interest in life & its enjoyments. Among the  mental(psychological/emotional) symptoms of stress, are obsessions & phobias, loss of self-confidence & self-esteem, feeling of guilt, fear-of-future, diminished concentration, requiring to rush to another  job before the one on hand is finished, constantly irritable, isolated, angry, bothering too much about trivialities, crying or feeling like crying too often, vagrant mind, inability to concentrate on any job for long.

         Out of the three mental/emotional causes of stress, the first one hypochondria is an abnormal anxiety, about or interest in one’s state of health. The hypochondriac has a sense of insecurity & he suffers from illness phobia. The next one is depression. Every one of us, sometime or the other may be depressed. But, it becomes a problem, when it gets out of proportion. It is considered normal to be deeply grieved on the death of the loved one, but in course of time one reconciles & should. It may be caused by external factors (called Exogenous depression), or it may seem to come from within the body (called Endogenous depression). The last one consists of phobias, obsessions & ruminations. A phobia is irrational fear, accepted by the sufferer as such, of an object or situation. Agoraphobia is fear of going out in the open. Obsessions are also the result of fear. A person with abnormal fear of dirt may be very complicated in his/her procedure, to maintain cleanliness. Ruminations involve anxiety-provoking thoughts without any action.

           Any change that affects the set pattern of life is likely to causes stress. Advanced technology has made life fast, with better quality & greater accuracy, along with pressure of population & resultant over-crowding-congestion & wider range of choices at all levels of living. More decisions have to be made every day by all of us, with higher degree of responsibility & accountability, better quality of communication & understanding etc. Mass transit due to political upheaval or daily routine commuting to work by road/railways/subs; do have their deleterious impact on tranquility of life. In the Jet-age, the higher-ups & executives have to cope with several time-zones & the body & mind both have to adapt to these frequent changes.

          Stress is however, necessary to stimulate each one of us. Without stress & the resulting challenge, one is apt to become dull & indifferent & may even lose the will to live the life to the fullest. But damaging stress occurs, when challenges become impossible to cope with. In this context, stress acts as a protective mechanism of the body. But, if continued for too long, it changes from fight mechanism, to fear & flight mechanism. Under prolonged stress, one may develop potentially harmful changes in behaviour, which in the ultimate; undermine both physical & mental health. Threshold, the cut-off point, when stress turns from Eustress to Distress, is rather subtle and as such difficult to recognize on one’s own, unless one is watchful & careful constantly. But this itself, if practised too far, may lead to stress. However, stress thresholds may vary from person to person & for the same person, from situation to situation. One may be bothered by one’s boss, to the extent where one suffers continuously. Sometimes people say, under stress from their relationships, about getting ulcer or pain in the neck, which sometimes actually does happen. Chronic exposure to stressful situations over long periods may cause serious diseases like heart accidents & mental breakdowns etc., thus shortening the span of life. Aging is nothing but, the sum total of the scars left by the stress of life. These scars can be chemical or mental & cause irreparable damage to the personality as a whole.

              Dr. H. Holmes, Professor Psychiatry, at the University of Washington, USA had devised a scale assigning point values to changes, good or bad, that often affect us all. A danger point reaches when enough changes occur during one year to add up to 300. In one of his studies, it was found that 80% of those who exceeded 300 became seriously depressed or suffered serious illnesses. Various common life changes have been given Holmes point values such as Death of spouse-100, Divorce-73, Marital Separation-65, Jail term or Death of close family member-63, Personal injury/Illness-53, Marriage-50, Fired from job-47, Marital Reconciliation or Retirement-45, Change in health of family member-44, Pregnancy-40, Sex difficulty-39, Change in financial set up-38, Death of close friend-37, Change in work load-36, Arguments with spouse-35, Mortgage or loan foreclosure-30, Change in work responsibility or child leaving home or trouble with in laws-29, Personal achievement-28, Wife beginning/stopping work or beginning/ending school-26, Revision of personal habits-24, Trouble with boss-23, Change in residence or school-20, Vacation-13, Minor violation of law-11.

             For managing stress, we should do, what we like to do & at our own rate. For many persons manner of living, manner of behaving in various situations, deciding whether to take over parental business or go in for service etc. may be matters causing stress. If we really want to be a musician, singer or a painter, then we should just be & set our own code of life. Hard work never kills anybody. In fact it is our attitude or approach towards work, which makes it hard or otherwise. We should learn to take interest in our work & regard it as our own. In course of time, we will begin to love our work. We should work to live & not live to work. For normal functioning, man needs work, as much as he needs air, food, sleep or social contacts. We should find the kind of work that suits us best. Unfortunately, work is seen as something that wears us down & this actually produces stress. Work wears us down through frustration or failure, resulting in stress that leaves some irreparable chemical scars (we may think of them as insoluble precipitates of living matter). The successful men are said to have worked hard throughout their life, but in fact they never worked but lived a life of leisure.

             One important strategy to cope up with stress is relaxation. For effectiveness, we should try to learn relaxation when we are fresh & alert & not when we are feeling tired. We should select a solitary & quiet place with presence of no other persons. We should not rush the clock of body rhythm. If we are not succeeding initially, we should  give up for a while, loosen any tight clothing, take off shoes, sit or lie as comfortably as possible, close the eyes, uncross the legs, rest our hands flat with palms upturned. Alternately, we should tense & relax each part of the body & take slow deep breath as we go along. The second strategy is reassessing, reorganizing & modifying our life style. For this purpose, we should first assess our own life style & identify works which we would like to do, use free time as per our liking & satisfaction, be in close contact with real friends but not with people who make us stressed, consider the requirement of sacrifices for doing as per our liking, do works which should be done by us or are liked by us, be happy with the job being done, live with right partner, like ourselves and our appearance, consider suitability of city life or country life, make life neither too busy nor less busy, observe the past best relations/activities, consider our dreams which can become reality.

               We should organize our life style by establishing priorities of all activities/tasks at home & in office, deciding the order of doing things & checking whether we have time or we need help of others, eliminating inessential activities &/or those that can be postponed, seeking other’s help without hesitation for complex or difficult works, refusing unreasonable demands & living our own self, evaluating self imposed demands also as to whether they are necessary/desirable, making a list of all the friends to whom we could turn now or when under stress. Since physical fitness is a must for becoming stress-free, wholesome & balanced diet at regular intervals is important, along with suitable exercise & adequate rest. Certain foods associated with stress should be avoided such as Caffeine (in Coffee & in many soft drinks) which causes nervousness & palpitation. Salt has been linked with high BP, Sugar with Heart diseases, smoking with tension, irritability, sleeplessness & cancer. Alcohol depletes Vitamins of group B, which are essential for reducing stress. Certain nutrients like Vitamin B, Minerals like Calcium (natural sedative), Magnesium (Nature’s tranquilizer) & Potassium (healthy heart) are expected to reduce stress. An element of Vitamin B, pantothenic acid, is especially important in preventing stress & strengthening immunity system. Calcium deficiency may cause fatigue, nervousness & tension. It is available in dairy products, eggs, almonds, soya beans etc. Magnesium deficiency leads to excitability, irritability, apprehension & emotional disorders. It is also necessary for absorption of both Calcium & Potassium. Potassium deficiencies are associated with breathlessness fatigue, insomnia & low B.P. Potassium is found in many vegetables, seeds, dates. Yoghurt is rich in Vitamin-A, D & B-Complex. It relieves insomnia, migraine & cramps. Rest & Recreation are also necessary, for healthy body & mind. Holidays & leisure should be planned regularly & enjoyed, away from the normal place of work. An executive should delegate duties to his colleagues & avoid the temptation of being the Superman. Retirement should also be planned well in time.

             We ourselves are the best judge to examine & identify the factors which are causing stress to us & the methods to effectively cope with the specific type(s) of stress, take action(s) where necessary & manage the stress in our life. This will result in controlling the effects of these factors, reducing their negative effects & thus leading to improvement in our effectiveness.

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This blog has been presented and posted by Vijai K Sharma (in short Vijai), after being jointly compiled, as a result of discussions and deliberations between Abha (former Deputy Director of a voluntary organization in Mumbai), Vijai (former Additional G.M. in a large industrial organization) and Prakash (former Ford Foundation Fellow and Smith-Mundt/Fulbright Scholar and former Professor of Econometrics in several Universities including California University, Berkeley).

 

 

SOME OF THE PROBLEMS FACED IN AVAILING LEAVE IN AN ORGANIZATION

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Everyone who is in service, whether Government or private, needs leave some time or the other, for various reasons.  This may be for short or long duration, planned or unexpected due to some emergent situations. Normally an organization sets down some rules giving types of leave, number of days of leave available in one year, possibility of accumulation of leave for encashment at some point of time in life, method  of obtaining sanction etc. But regarding availing leave, there are problems faced in real life, due to different types of situations, employees as well as bosses for sanctioning of leave required.

           Some employees do take leave with proper planning and prior sanction, with minimum number of unplanned needs. On the other hand, some persons may just not bother about the requirements of the organization or of their colleagues, or obtaining proper sanction of the leave and they may go on long leave and extend from there without bothering about its effect on the planned leave of others.  Such persons are too selfish and they may be able to manage with the boss any time and every time, but there is always an end to everything. Employees should  realize that frequently  going on leave and sometimes with fake reasons  or  excuses, indicates their own character, disturbs the planned leave programme of the colleagues, tells upon their own performance as well as that of the organization. After checking the record of leave taken and assessing the real reasons, we may question and confront the employees. In addition to the keeping of records by the employers, the employees themselves, should also keep a record of  the details  of the leave taken by them, for controlling their own leave requirements. People should know that this is also one of the factors for considering their betterment, future career, promotion, perks,  posting and transfer, etc.  There is another point, when due to exigencies of service, presence of the employee(s) is considered essential  and the leave when needed by some employees, may not be granted. This is more applicable to Government personnel.  

                  Bosses are also of different types. Most of the bosses ask the employees to plan their long leave well in advance, preferably at the beginning of the calendar year and  then they adjust/reduce the requirements so that all can avail long leave sometime or the other. But it is possible that they may keep the interests of their persons safe and uppermost in their mind and not bother much about others. One employee requested for 5 days casual leave, so as to make one full week, for bringing his wife back from her parental home. He was intimated in writing saying that since five others are on long leave, it cannot be sanctioned.  In spite of personal request, leave was not sanctioned even for 4 or 3 or 2 or 1 day. Perforce he requested for outstation leave for the two holidays in that week which  was then granted.   During this period he went home and brought his family back. Since distance of the destination was long, his stay in the parental home was just for a few hours. What an amount of stress he and his family must have faced?  Sometimes, to accommodate the requirements of long leave of someone, leave of some others may be cut short, modified or adjusted, even on some false  pretext, without bothering about the exact requirements. Sometimes even for the person’s own marriage, leave may not be granted more than for 7 or 10 days.  On the other hand, the leave of their favourite persons may be given at will. The boss should ensure that every person  should go on  annual long  leave to rejuvenate and return with more energy and enthusiasm and that there is uniformity in application of rules and the interests of all employees are safe guarded. But this is probably more possible in private organizations. Of course there is life besides the office or the organization, but, it goes without saying that the main thrust of  everybody  has to be on that thing, which gets them funds for their livelihood.

————-vijaiksharma

ASSOCIATION OF INTUTION AND UNCERTAINTY WHILE DECISION-MAKING

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In the field of management, many decisions are to be taken at short notice, even though they may have far reaching effects subsequently. As a matter of fact, the decisions should be based on data, reports, results of surveys and logical analysis thereof. There are some mathematical/statistical techniques available. Some top management personnel make use of these techniques. But still many use their intuition. Based on his experience, the top person has a feeling about the whole problem and its consequences, which helps him to take a decision, either way. This is a quick method for taking decisions and many persons prefer it. Some of the top persons may even get the decision corroborated by some sort of study for that problem, based on which they may allow earlier decision to continue or to even modify it. This saves lot of time for achieving progress. The success of taking such decision making is based on the confidence of the top management. The mind of the top management should be in a balanced and stable condition, so that even with multifarious, difficult and varying situations, the scenario can be visualized rightly. No doubt there is uncertainty associated with intuition. For that matter, uncertainty in some manner is always associated with many things and events. If we are free of stress or at least having reduced stresses, we are more likely to see the correct path and our decisions are likely to be right in the long run. Best way is logical analysis. The latter sometimes causes diversion due to information overload. A combination of the two is the next best solution. If accuracy of past decisions, based on intuition is good, it is advisable to go ahead similarly and in the bargain, continue to build up the confidence to help in taking decisions in future, in similar or newer situations.

                                                                              ———–vijaiksharma

 

 

 

SHARING AND RESOLVING

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 There was an organization, to which young educated persons used to be attracted to join, but will  get disillusioned soon after joining, and would then like to leave  for better pastures elsewhere. These could be the competitive examinations, entrepreneurship or going overseas. It appeared that it was like stop-gap arrangement for such persons. But there were several other persons of medium and higher age group, who could not leave and had to serve there only and retire from there. Thus the rate of such persons leaving the organization was high. The organization was also hard put to stress, due to the frequent recruiting procedures, their training and then their leaving arrangements, causing more problems and vacuum than help and assistance from them Apart from this, there was another problem. There was a regular tradition of welcoming a new employee and giving farewell to a retiring, transferring or leaving employee. As a result, there were too many farewell functions for such young persons, leaving the organization.  Besides increasing the organization load, it also increased the expenditure of such functions due to the involvement of expenses for gift, High Tea etc. As these expenses were met by contributions from the existing employees, at one stage, some bickering were also heard in whispering voices.  Then a surprise was created when one  such young person leaving the organization, quietly offered to host the High Tea, thus offsetting some amount from the total budget, which remained mainly for the gift for the outgoing employee. This welcome gesture was appreciated by everyone and then adopted as a regular measure. This was an innovative and creative method of sharing the expenses and resolving, not a problem but strained views or feelings.                                                                                                 

                                                                                                             ———–vijaiksharma

  

 

SOME HAPPENINGS AT THE TIME OF RETIREMENT AND/OR TRANSFER

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Any parting is generally sad, but in some cases it may even be otherwise. It is interesting to note the observations of the person going out and the persons who continue to be in the organization. It may present a widely different picture. An effort has been made to study some of the happenings at the time of retirement/transfer of persons. One person arranged an elephant and went home riding the elephant from the office to his house, where he had arranged a lunch for all of his colleagues. Some persons hire a taxi or some other vehicle or go in the normal manner to their residence, but still arrange food for their friends. In some cases, the people go on cycles or two wheelers in a procession up to the house of the retiring person, who arranges tea and snacks or lunch or dinner for them. Some make arrangements in a reasonable hotel even. Sometimes the person is accompanied by just one or two persons or not even accompanied at all. In some places the officer stands on a jeep and the jeep is then pulled by ropes by his colleagues at least for some distance symbolically and then the vehicle runs on fuel and goes forward. One person appeared to be so upset and depressed on the last day that he drank and drank and as a result died on the same day, i.e. the last day of his retirement. Some persons are not able to accept their retirement and they continue to come to their office or factory or the organization at the usual hours for several days after their retirement. Some cry at that time due to losing contact with their friends of many years. In some cases, where the bosses have been very rude and non-cooperative, employees pay them in same coin and at that time the boss becomes helpless. They may face hostile environment like black flag demonstrations both outside and inside the organization premises, while departing by train or air or by road. Consequently, some of such bosses do not disclose their exact departure details. On the contrary, for some of the good bosses, some employees even weep. When a selfish and bad boss leaves a job or is transferred, some employees light lamps of pure ghee to express their happiness and give vent to their feelings.  Relationship management is therefore very important in any organization. People want that their work life and also home life, should both give them happiness and not stress. Some of the bad bosses may not get a good farewell or no farewell at all and may go out humiliated or it may look that the employees are not concerned about this event. Some are treated to sumptuous food and even given gifts or mementoes as a mark of respect and token of remembrance. In some cases, some representatives of employees do come to see them off at the time of their departure from that place, garland them and even decorate the vehicle or the cabin of the train they are travelling in, by using garlands/flowers.

                                                                               vijaiksharma