14 September 2005

Stress management starts with good self-management

The workplace has become an ideal breeding ground for stress and stress-related illnesses. Learn how to beat stress.

The workplace has become an ideal breeding ground for stress and stress related illnesses. Decreased productivity and absenteeism are just two indicators of how modern corporate living impacts on employees.

Gone are the days when the workplace operated as a family and companies looked after the individual. Nowadays individuals have to take responsibility for their own wellbeing, says Neil Tuck, corporate consultant.

Many people experience wear and tear in this fast moving, ever changing and competitive environment. Most employees experience significant changes in their work environments every three years, says Tuck. Such changes include restructuring and retrenchment.

All of these factors make it necessary for individuals to remain as resilient as possible. There is great pressure on people to remain operational in spite of work pressure.

“As a result of this pressure, people often don’t take time off when they need to and try to perform at all costs, often to their own detriment,” says Tuck.

People have become reactive and only take action once they have become dysfunctional.

How can people cope with stress when faced with the harsh realities of the corporate environment? The answer lies in becoming an effective self-manager, says Neil Tuck, corporate consultant.

Effective self-managers have the following characteristics:

Good stress management
A good self-manager knows what stress is, can identify negative stress timeously, is able to identify the sources of stress and is pro-active in managing stress.

Emotional intelligence is well developed
Emotional intelligence is more important than IQ in the corporate world. It is important to get to know oneself and have insight into one’s behaviour and what motivates it. The good thing is that unlike IQ, EQ can change and improve.

Excellent interpersonal skills
We function in a social context but often underestimate the role of interpersonal skills in how we cope with work stress. Self-managers adopt effective interpersonal skills, such as assertiveness and how to manage conflict.

Good time management
We are great at reading books on time management and probably all know how to manage time effectively. The problem is that we seldom apply this knowledge. Self-mangers respect time and decide how to use it effectively. They also know how to plan towards goal-directed behaviour.

Good self-managers are ruthless in ensuring that they develop all facets of their lives. As we prioritise at work, we need to look at priorities in our personal lives. Personal lives should never suffer because of work. There is life beyond work!

High priority to self maintenance
In order to manage stress and perform optimally, self-managers look after their emotional and physical wellbeing. This includes exercising regularly and adopting healthy eating habits.

Ongoing investment in self development
Effective self-managers never believe that they have “learnt it all”. They continue to learn and to develop themselves. - Ilse Pauw (Health24)

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