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Column: Managing stress at work – the Triple A Approach

By: Lisa Lounsbury - Workplace Wellness

 | Jun 03, 2014 - 2:00 PM |
Chronic stress can cause havoc on your body, mood and behavior and can range from mild symptoms to as severe as death.

Chronic stress can cause havoc on your body, mood and behavior and can range from mild symptoms to as severe as death.

Have you ever noticed that you seem to get sick at the same time each year or after a challenging or stressful situation? It’s a known fact that stress makes people sick.

Chronic stress can cause havoc on your body, mood and behavior and can range from mild symptoms to as severe as death. The Mayo Clinic states that “When we feel the effects of stress weighing us down, it's like lugging a backpack that's becoming heavier by the minute. Too much stress can make our journey through life difficult.”

Everyone experiences stress, but when your stress level exceeds your ability to cope it puts your health at risk. Stress at work potentially means your health is being compromised for at least eight hours a day. When you compound that over the course of a year, you are exposing your body to approximately 2,000 hours of stress.

It’s crucial to acknowledge that you might be experiencing stress at work and that t you might not be managing it effectively. Below is the Triple A Approach to managing work stress. It just might give you the fighting edge you need.

Alter: Be willing to communicate openly with your co-workers or supervisor. When you find yourself overwhelmed with work, inventory your to-do list and determine if there is an opportunity to alter the tasks and minimize your stress. Perhaps there is a more effective way to follow through or complete a task. If you can manage your time more effectively, you will probably accomplish more and find yourself more relaxed.

Accept: This may require forgiveness, which is often a difficult thing to do. It takes a lot of energy to stay angry and it’s never good for your health. If there is a situation at work that is causing stress, you may want to decide whether it’s worth stewing over or to just accept that it’s part of your job.

Learning from your mistakes is also hard to do; however, it may offer you some relief that allows you to move on from a challenging situation.

Avoid: Although avoiding your problems isn’t typically the right approach, there may be situations when it just makes sense. You do have the power to take control of your situation. If there is something that regularly causes you stress, explore if it’s something you can avoid.

You can also learn to say “no” once in a while. If you find yourself volunteering to take on extra work (over and above what is required of you), consider what that is doing to your stress level.

Remember, there is such thing as good stress and those moments are what make you feel alive and vibrant. The role of stress is to give your body a shot of adrenaline that increases your heart rate and helps you perform an important task or manage a situation effectively.

However, your body needs time to recover from that stress in order to be ready for the next challenge. The dangers start to increase when you are unable to give your body and heart enough down time to adjust to a normal heart rate and the feeling of relaxation.

Evaluate your workday and determine how you are handling the stresses you typically encounter. It’s all in how you manage it that keeps you happy and healthy.

Remember the Triple A Approach and remind yourself that you always have a choice; I’ve offered you three: Alter, Accept and Avoid.

Lisa Lounsbury is the founder of New Day Wellness, a corporate wellness and fitness training company. Visit newdaywellness.ca.

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