Taking Stress in Stride
For many years, stress was considered an imaginary complaint that lazy
employees would use as an excuse for
skipping work. Now, stress has finally
made its way into medical books -- and into
company accounts too. More and more
firms are realizing the effect that stress-related illnesses are having on their
The causes of stress are manifold. Just
getting to work on time may be a major
cause. At the workplace, stress can be
caused by not having enough to do, not
facing sufficient challenges or simply being
in a job that does not suit the person. At
the other end of the scale is overwork and
job insecurity. There may also be ergonomic reasons for stress such as cramped
working conditions, a faulty chair, a desk at the wrong height, a smoky office or
Stress manifests itself in many ways. The most common symptoms are
headaches, backaches, shortness of breath, skin disorders, heart palpitations,
gastric problems and sleeping disorders. There is also poor concentration, poor
memory and loss of self-confidence. Other major health problems such as
depression, repetitive strain injury and heart problems may follow these
All these symptoms give rise to inefficient work practices, increased medical
leave and consequently loss of productivity. Companies are finally beginning to
take notice and are starting to invest in their employees' health as a natural cost
of doing business.
Companies are taking the necessary measures to overcome stress-related
problems with the hope that there will be heightened efficiency at the workplace
and lower absenteeism. But at the end of the day it is up to the individual.
The art of stress management is not something that can be picked up
overnight. It is something that an individual has to perfect and improve on
throughout his lifetime. The key is 'healthy body, healthy mind'.
Diet should be kept in check with smoking and drinking under control.
Consider investing in a home gym, which can be set up at a reasonable cost
consisting of basic equipment such as an exercise bench, a pair of dumb-bells
and an exercise bike.
Massage is another tried and tested form of physical relaxation, guaranteed
to reduce both mental and physical stress levels. The two most popular forms of
massages are the Japanese and Swedish massages. A Japanese Shiatsu
massage focuses on specific points of the body where energy is blocked, while the
Swedish massage involves stroking with oils to stimulate blood circulation. A
massage does not take long and it is not expensive. The different types of
massages and aromatherapy techniques have different effects with some for
relaxation and some for stimulation; all guaranteed to make you feel invigorated
or enlivened after a hard day.
Another way of reducing stress is the century-old and hugely popular
practice of yoga. A beginner taking up yoga may find the posture and breathing
exercises beneficial. But yoga goes way beyond that as it deals with the inner
organism ( the mind, the respiratory and digestive organs ) -- inner harmony
first -- and when the inner organism is working properly, then physical fitness
can be achieved.
In stress management, the most important thing is to recognize the symptoms
of stress early and to act before they become something serious.