What is Work Stress?
The common expression for stress is tension‘ One is said to be tense, when there is some anxiety, some fear of whether the desirable things may happen, whether something may go wrong, etc. It is a state of discomfort felt in the mind and experienced by the body. When there is tension, the body may become weak.
In management literature, Work Stress is defined as a response of the human body to a felt need. When one is hungry and there is an urge to eat food, the body is in a state of stress, which disappears when the need is fulfilled. This definition suggests that stress is a desirable condition, making one move towards a fulfillment of needs. This is partly true. Stress occurs also when the need arises out of fear and the urge is to run and escape. This may sometimes, be not possible. In that case, there is no movement, the need remains unfulfilled and the stress condition does not disappear.
Stress is identified as of two kinds. One is called EuStress, which is the condition in which there are drive and effort to fulfill the needs. Motivation is high. Achievement is seen as possible. The situation is challenging. Stress disappears when the need is fulfilled. There is a success. The other is Distress, which is the condition when there is a sense of helplessness in being able to achieve. The feeling is of frustration. There is no success. Maybe, there is no attempt even because success is seen as impossible. The stress condition remains.
Stress is psychological
Stress is experienced when one perceives a threat and the fight or flight response is called for. This Perception is an interpretation that one makes within oneself, of the external factors. When one sees a dog on the street baring its teeth, one may either get frightened or remain calm. Both fright and calmness are psychological reactions. The choice is one‘s own and is not dictated by the dog. This choice is made, largely unconsciously, on the basis of one‘s beliefs about dogs in general, what one has heard about rabies being caused by dog bites, what one sees about the characteristics of the dog in question at that time, one‘s predilections towards animals, and so on.
Stress is not caused by any external factor. It is created by oneself, by the way, one thinks about the external factors. Yet there are situations, in which most people tend to get stressed. These are called stressors. In personal life, the death of a close relative is a stressor. An important test in life, like a final examination; a transfer of residence; separation due to marriage, divorce or change of job; difficult financial demands; serious illness; the likelihood of unpleasant secrets becoming revealed; are common stressors. Having to welcome and entertain important visitors or having to deliver a speech for the first time, also cause considerable stress. At work, the following may be stressors.
Meaning Stress in Work Stress
Stress cannot be avoided. It should not be avoided. Without stress, there will be no attempt to try the difficult. One will give up much too easily. One will not succeed in doing even what one is easily capable of because even the normal faculties will not come into play – like the goalkeeper if he remained relaxed even at the last minute.
There are two aspects to take care of in managing stress. One is that one should not develop stress to the point that one becomes non-functional like Arjuna laying down his arms. The second is to try to get back to normal as quickly as one can and not continue to be in a state of stress for too long.
The former is achieved essentially by an attitude that is developed by rational thoughts. The first is to realize that one‘s perceptions often distort the reality. The situation may not be as bad as it may seem to be. The second is to understand that a failure is not an unmitigated disaster. It is not possible to succeed all the time. It is not even necessary to succeed all the time. One failed effort means that the person is no good. Nobody has succeeded without many losses. Even World champions sometimes lose a first round match to an unseeded player. Marconi and Thomas Alva Edison succeeded in their inventions after many attempts that failed. They saw failures as opportunities to learn.