Stress Management
picture of pair of scales

Stress is often a symptom of having too many demands and insufficient resources - a lack of balance.

Attempting to keep up with the pace of modern living, together with increasing demands to do more work in less time, with less resources, can create an imbalance that results in stress.

It's a Question of Balance

To redress the balance we need to acknowledge stress and start tackling the problems instead of the symptoms.

Stress and time are inextricably linked; the less time we have available to complete a task, the more stressed we become.

Disorganisation creates stress. Being disorganised has a knock-on effect on everything we try to do, yet we don't place a high priority on getting organised.

If we learn to manage our time and other resources more effectively, and create an environment that enhances our productivity, we can reduce stress by eliminating some of it at source.

Are You Running on Empty?

Stress has a physical effect on the body; it's not simply a test of our mental resolve. It can do lasting physical damage to our health, often irreversibly, and can cause psychological problems.

Too many of us are 'running on empty' but ignoring the warning light that's telling us we're heading into trouble.

Negative stress manifests itself in many ways: irritability, negative moods, loss of appetite, insomnia, forgetfullness, depression, minor illnesses such as coughs and colds, and so on.

Too often we ignore the signs and put ourselves at real risk of developing more serious problems such as high blood pressure, and chronic or major illnesses such as autoimmune diseases, heart attacks and strokes.

Coping at any Cost is Not Coping at All

Stress is a symptom, not the problem. It's a symptom of living in a modern world where we're expected to cope with ever increasing demands yet ever decreasing resources.

If we do manage to meet the demands expected of us this fools us into believing that we're coping - but at what cost to our physical and mental wellbeing? Damage to our physical and mental heath is too high a price to pay, and can be irreversible.

A Taboo Subject

Being unable to cope is something that people are reluctant to admit because it may be seen as a sign of weakness; everyone else appears to be coping so we don't speak up.

The truth is that many people aren't coping but they're too afraid to admit it. People who go off sick from work with stress-related illnesses will say what illness they were suffering from but they won't admit that it was brought on by stress. How would we react if they did?

Organisations acknowledge that stress is a real and significant problem that can no longer be ignored. Until recently, stress was somewhat of a taboo subject; we knew it existed but we didn't want to acknowledge it. Perhaps we believe that not acknowledging it means it isn't really a problem.

Less Haste, More Speed: The Time-Stress Link

Poor time management is a significant contributor to negative stress. Time and stress are inextricably linked; the less time we have available to complete a task, the more stressed we become. It's a vicious cycle because as the stress kicks in we become less capable of doing the task in question.

How often have you had a deadline looming and been aware of your stress levels rising higher as it approaches? How has this affected your ability to do the task? If things get so bad that panic sets in you probably can't even think straight.

Chaos Costs

Many people operate in a disorganised environment. They simply have too many demands on them to keep things organised or to even get organised to start with.

There can be numerous causes: lack of skills, tools, resources, time, or even inclination. We don't place a high priority on organising ourselves yet being disorganised has a knock-on effect on everything we try to do.

We can't 'learn to be organised' as a one-off event because as everything around us changes so we have to change too. It's a matter of learning strategies that work for us now but being willing to adopt new strategies as new demands present themselves.

Efficient vs. Effective

Some people are naturally neat and organised but they may be more efficient than effective. There's no value in being very good at doing something that's unimportant.

Perfectionists are excellent at getting nowhere fast, which is fine if all you need to do is stand still but most of us have deadlines to meet.

It doesn't follow that the person with the neatest desk produces the most work. Being neat doesn't necessarily mean you're organised, and being organised doesn't necessarily mean you're productive.

The person who can find what they need when they need it so that they can do what they need to do most when they most need to do it is likely to be the person who's the most productive.

A Productive Environment

To work productively we need a productive environment. A productive environment is one that helps you to be more effective at doing what you need to do - achieving more with less effort.

What works well for others may not work as well, or at all, for you but there are many tools and techniques available; it's simply a case of finding a solution that suits your needs and working style.

Information Overload

Management of information, whether in paper or digital form, is a huge and ever-increasing problem. Most people simply don't have the skills, or the time required to learn, to manage their information resources effectively.

Despite promises of a paperless office almost 90% of all information in organisations is still maintained on paper. Progress in technology has increased the use of paper, not decreased it.

Advances in Technology

Technology can exacerbate our problems with time and stress management. Now that things can be done vastly quicker, we're expected to keep up the pace. With shorter deadlines to meet and constant interruptions, technology can be a hindrance rather than a help.

Are you a slave to technology or do you use it to make your life easier? Do you tell yourself that you simply don't have the time to learn how to use technology to save you time?


See Also Quotable Quotes

Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency.

- Natalie Goldberg, 'Wild Mind'

A diamond is merely a lump of coal that did well under pressure.

- Author Unknown

We experience moments absolutely free from worry. These brief respites are called panic.

- Cullen Hightower