Over the past year, many readers have written to ask me various questions regarding the best way to manage stress, so I thought it would be a good idea to share some of these with you.


What is stress?

Stress is the adverse reaction that people have to excessive pressure or other types of demands placed on them. It arises when they perceive that they are unable to cope with those demands


Is stress good for me?

No. It is often mistakenly thought that stress is good for people, when in fact, long-term stress is invariably harmful. A certain amount of pressure can indeed motivate and can therefore be useful, but stress is never so.


Can stress be seen as a weakness - particularly in industry?

Yes. If an individual works in an organisation, where for example, there is the possibility of imminent redundancies, he/she may seek to cover up any signs of stress in the belief that they may be regarded as unable to cope with their job and might be regarded as dispensable.


How do I recognise stress in myself?

Depending on the individual, stress can manifest itself in different ways including heart palpitations, mood swings, panic attacks, over-dependence on caffeine, anxiety, loss of confidence, aggressiveness, headaches, poor time management and lack of concentration.


Why do we become stressed?

Fundamentally, it is the way that you think about a situation rather than the situation itself that causes stress. Problems occur when the pressure you are under seems to be overwhelming or out of your control.


I feel that my workload is too much for me. What can I do about this?

First of all, you need to be very clear as to whether your workload is too great or if you have received insufficient training to carry it out. If it is a case of too much to do in too little time, then you need to talk to your boss and discuss it clearly.


What is the importance of support network to me at times of stress?

It is important to be aware that coping with stress can be made demonstrably easier with the support from colleagues, family or friends. Strong and caring friendships are an essential benefit in helping you to learn how to cope with pressure and to counteract stress.


What are the early warning signs of stress in my team?

Here are some key indicators:

  •  Unexplained absenteeism
  •  Reduced work performance
  • Loss of concentration
  • Increased work errors
  • Poor timekeeping
  •  Irritability or aggression


What are some of the common causes of work-related stress?

Poor management and insufficient training combined with a lack of communication, are three primary causes.


At my last performance review, I was told I had to improve my management style. Can you point me in the right direction to avoid losing my job?

Effective people management is a skill that many managers find difficult, so you are not alone. It is, however, an essential skill if you are to lead your team with confidence.

The following tips should help you:

  • Promote a ‘can do' attitude in a realistic way.
  • Encourage individuals to come up with ideas on how they may be better able to achieve targets.
  • Facilitate feedback. Individuals appreciate the chance to say how they perceive both you, as their manager, and their job.
  •  Be approachable and available.


Would being more assertive help my stress levels?

Many people find it very difficult to say ‘no!'. They put themselves in invidious situations by accepting additional work or tasks when they have, in reality, insufficient resources to complete them. The consequences are often disappointment in themselves and others that invariably leads to both physical and psychological stress, and a reduction in self-esteem and self-image.


Why is exercise good to beat stress?

Exercise reduces muscle tension and uses up adrenalin and energy released by the body's ‘fight or flight' response.