More on Stress
By Richard Komarniski
Last month, we discussed stress as a part of our lives, both at home and on the job. We discussed different types of stress, how different types of individuals deal with stress, and a few ways to cope with stress in our lives. In the following article, we will look at sources of stress, signs of stress, and provide techniques that can be used to reduce stress or at least manage stress that occurs whether at home or in your job.
Stress can adversely affect your health, including both your mental and physical well being. One way to cope with stress is to be in good physical condition. To be prepared to deal with stress, it helps to be physically fit. A good diet, obtaining adequate rest, and regular exercise are proven methods for coping with stress. A recent Stanford University study found that those who engaged in regular exercise experienced a 30 percent reduction in levels of stress, anxiety and depression. The Stanford University study confirms my own experiences.
Early in my career I was involved in an incident in which an aircraft under my responsibility was declared a total loss due to a maintenance-related accident. Fortunately, no one was hurt or killed, but I had to deal with a phenomenal amount of stress over what seemed to be a long period of time.
During this period, I was extremely fortunate to be living a short walk away from a swimming pool that I used to swim laps in every day. Looking back I realize how lucky I was to have access to that pool and its use as a tool to relieve the stress that I was facing. Exercise is one of mother nature's treatments for stress and tension. Focus your energy in a long swim, walk, run, bike ride, or hard workout and you will feel better (perhaps with a lot of sweat) and be better equipped to handle the stresses you face.
A more subtle form of stress which can be encountered especially in the work place is politics at work. I have worked in an environment for a short period where there was not very much to do. The employees became bored and some started to play "mind games" with their co-workers. Idle minds and hands may be capable of creating more stress than we can imagine. I would rather be part of an organization that is struggling with all the stress and problems of growth than to be a part of an organization where we had too much idle time on our hands.
Sources of Stress
Stress can be created from many different sources. Understanding where stress can come from, in all of its different forms can be extremely helpful to developing approaches to cope with stress. A very significant source of stress is significant life events that require substantial readjustment. Much has been written about how life changing events or significant challenges in our lives can create overwhelming stresses. If not properly managed, the stress that is created can result in additional life changing events. It is not too difficult to look at these life events and the results that can occur as we would look at the chain of events in an accident or incident. Many of the human factors issues effecting us as professional aviation technicians, which we have discussed over the past months, also are very applicable in our personal lives. A few of these life events which can create significant stress are identified below.
• Family changes — Marriage, divorce or separation, pregnancy or a new child, death in the family, friction with spouse or children, spouse starting or ending a job or career, children leaving (or returning) home.
• Work — Unemployment, uncertainty about job future, change in work assignment, friction with supervisor, incompatibility with co-workers, anticipating retirement.
• Personal — Change in living conditions, legal problems, sexual difficulties, personal injury or illness, death of a close friend, beginning or ending of romantic relationships.
• Financial — Major change in financial status, inability to meet ongoing expenses.
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