Plan to fret. "Take half an hour to worry intensively, then move on," says Penn State professor Tom Borkovec, Ph.D.
Keep a journal. Jot down your worry, then in a few days or weeks, write the outcome. What you'll find: Things usually turn out better than you think they will.
Challenge the likelihood of your worry. If your husband is late coming home and you imagine he has been hit by a bus, think about the emotion behind your worry. (You are anxious because you love him and want to keep him around.) Once you have identified the emotion at the heart of your worry and allowed yourself to experience it, see if it's a reasonable worry (hint: probably not). Then let it pass rather than allowing anxiety to ruin your quiet night at home.
Peel an orange. The next time a thought threatens to snowball into a stressfest, grab an orange or grapefruit. Press your nail into the skin, peel it back and smell the citrus scent, focusing on every sensation. "Rather than worry about the future, you can bring yourself into the moment,"
Get nostalgic. Visualize your key life events of the past 10 years. You probably can't recall the worries linked with these experiences, or, if you can, you may see that most never happened (e.g., you didn't trip and fall at your wedding). Tell yourself that current worries will fade from memory, too.
The drugs, which are prescribed medically, have been selected because of their power to relieve the symptoms of mental illness and stabilise the condition – the main groups are anti-depressants, tranquillisers and mood stabilisers.
Low levels of serotonin are thought to be a cause of depression and other related conditions. Medication like anti-depressants can bring the levels of this chemical back to normal. Anti-depressant medication may take two/three weeks before full benefit is experienced. It is important to take medication even when you feel completely well as early discontinuation may precipitate relapse. Some people may need more than one course of treatment.One group of anti-depressant drugs, the monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) requires patients to avoid certain foods, drinks and medicines. Patients on these drugs are given a warning card listing these by their doctor.
Tranquillisers or neuroleptic medications are used to treat major illnesses like schizophrenia and psychotic depression. These drugs suppress a chemical, dopamine, thought to be over produced in people with schizophrenia.Like other drugs used in the treatment of mental illness, this medication may need to be taken over a long period of time. Early discontinuation may precipitate relapse.A relative or friend can play an important role in reminding or encouraging you to take your medication. Make them aware of possible side effects. Read the information leaflets and discuss the information with your doctor or Community Psychiatric Nurse.There may be some side effects to treatment with major tranquillisers – if you experience any of the following, you should inform your doctor:* stiffness, restlessness and shakiness known as extra-pyramidal effects* Sensitivity to light – you should be careful in bright sunlight – use a sunblock cream* some people feel tired, dizzy or may be prone to weight gain.
Mood stabilisers are drugs used in the treatment of excessively “high” moods, irritability, increased energy and activity. Drugs & AlcoholAs with all types of prescribed medication, it is best to avoid alcohol as it interacts with neuroleptic medicines and increases drowsiness.
The exceptionally threatening character of traumatic events has been highlighted in the diagnostic criteria for PTSD (American Psychiatric Association, 1980; World Health Organization, 1992). Perceived threat to life during trauma showed consistent correlations with PTSD severity in a recent meta-analysis (Ozer, Best, Lipsey, & Weiss, 2003), with an average weighted correlation of .26. For perpetrators of violence, the perceived threat to their social status may be an important additional source of threat (Beck, 1999). It was therefore included as a possible predictor in the present study.
Emotional reactions during trauma are also highlighted in the diagnostic criteria for PTSD, in particular fear, helplessness, or horror (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). In Ozer et al.'s (2003) meta-analysis, the intensity of such negative emotions showed an average weighted correlation of .26 with PTSD severity. Other negative emotions that have been shown to predict PTSD include anger and shame (Andrews, Brewin, Rose, & Kirk, 2000).
Cognitive Processing and Disorganized Trauma Memories
Theories of PTSD suggest that information processing is compromised during trauma and that compromised information processing explains PTSD symptom severity over and above what is explained by high arousal and negative emotions (e.g., Brewin et al., 1996; Ehlers & Clark, 2000). The most widely investigated indicator of such compromised processing is dissociation, which was the best predictor of PTSD in Ozer et al.'s (2003) meta-analysis, with an average weighted correlation of .35.
Dissociation is a complex concept, and it is unclear how it relates to other forms of cognitive processing that have been shown to influence memory (Roediger, 1990; Wheeler, 1997, 2000). Ehlers and Clark (2000) suggested that two further cognitive processing dimensions, data-driven processing (i.e., the predominant processing of sensory as opposed to conceptual information) and lack of self-referent processing (i.e., failure to encode new information as related to the self and other autobiographical information), predict whether people develop reexperiencing symptoms after trauma. These processes are thought to overlap in part with aspects of dissociation. Preliminary empirical support for a role of data-driven processing and lack of self-referent processing in intrusive trauma memories was found in studies of trauma survivors and volunteers exposed to distressing films (Murray, Ehlers, & Mayou, 2002; Rosario, Williams, & Ehlers, 2006).
Compromised cognitive processing is thought to lead to deficits in the autobiographical memory for the traumatic event. There are different hypotheses about the nature of this deficit, including a deficit in memory representations that facilitate intentional recall (Brewin et al., 1996), highly fragmented memories (e.g., Foa & Riggs, 1993; Herman, 1992), and poorly elaborated memories that are inadequately incorporated into their context of other autobiographical memories (e.g., Ehlers & Clark, 2000). Poor elaboration is thought to lead to poor inhibition of unintentional triggering of aspects of the trauma memory by matching cues. Ehlers, Hackmann, and Michael (2004) further suggested that the poor elaboration should be most pronounced for those parts of the trauma that are later reexperienced.
The mechanisms involved with the formation of trauma memories and deficits in recall specified in the different PTSD models are difficult to measure (Ehlers et al., 2004; McNally, 2003). One way is to code narratives of the traumatic event for indicators of the hypothesized mechanism. Common to the fragmentation and poor elaboration models is the hypothesis that intentional recall of trauma memories should be disorganized. Several studies have shown preliminary support for more disorganized trauma narratives in patients with PTSD versus those without PTSD (Foa, Molnar, & Cashman, 1995; Halligan, Michael, Clark, & Ehlers, 2003; Murray et al., 2002) and in volunteers exposed to a highly unpleasant film who developed intrusive memories than those without subsequent intrusions (Halligan, Clark, & Ehlers, 2002).
Appraisals of the Trauma and Its Aftermath
PTSD has been found to be associated with excessively negative appraisals of traumatic events (Ehlers & Clark, 2000; Foa & Riggs, 1993; Resick & Schnicke, 1993). For example, trauma survivors who blame themselves for the event or those who appraise a traumatic event as a sign of a negative (e.g., incompetent, unworthy, inadequate) self have more persistent PTSD symptoms than those who do not (Andrews et al., 2000; Dunmore, Clark, & Ehlers, 1997, 1999, 2001; Ehlers, Maercker, & Boos, 2000; Foa, Tolin, Ehlers, Clark, & Orsillo, 1999).
Although it is common for people to experience temporary unwanted memories following trauma, only a subgroup suffer from persisting intrusive memories (e.g., Baum & Hall, 1993). Ehlers and Steil (1995) suggested that negative interpretations of intrusions and other PTSD symptoms contribute to the maintenance of intrusive memories because they motivate the survivor to engage in behaviors that prevent processing of the trauma and may even increase intrusion frequency (e.g., rumination, thought suppression, use of alcohol and drugs). Several studies have supported the role of negative interpretations of intrusions in maintaining intrusions and PTSD (e.g., Dunmore et al., 1999, 2001; Ehlers, Mayou, & Bryant, 1998). Other trauma sequelae may also be interpreted in a negative way, contributing to the maintenance of PTSD (Ehlers & Clark, 2000). A common example is that trauma survivors interpret the trauma and its consequences as meaning that they have permanently changed for the worse as a person. Perceived permanent change has been shown to predict chronic PTSD (Dunmore et al., 1999, 2001; Ehlers et al., 2000).
Anxiety is a common and normal occurrence. However, a chronic, high level of anxiety indicates an anxiety disorder.
Common Anxiety Disorders
Some of the more common anxiety disorders include:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A person with generalized anxiety disorder experiences persistent and excessive anxiety or worry that lasts at least six months.
Specific Phobia: A person who has specific phobia experiences intense anxiety when exposed to a particular object or situation. The person often avoids the feared object or situation because of a desire to escape the anxiety associated with it.
Social Phobia: A person who has social phobia experiences intense anxiety when exposed to certain kinds of social or performance situations. As a result, the person often avoids these types of situations.
Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia: A person with panic disorder experiences recurrent, unexpected panic attacks, which cause worry or anxiety. During a panic attack, a person has symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating, trembling, dizziness, chest pain, and fear of losing control, going crazy, or dying. Panic disorder can occur with or without agoraphobia. Agoraphobia involves anxiety about losing control in public places, being in situations from which escape would be difficult or embarrassing, or being in places where there might be no one to help if a panic attack occurred.
Obsessive-compulsive Disorder: A person with obsessive-compulsive disorder experiences obsessions, compulsions, or both. Obsessions are ideas, thoughts, impulses, or images that are persistent and cause anxiety or distress. A person usually feels that the obsessions are inappropriate but uncontrollable. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that help to prevent or relieve anxiety.
Post–traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A person with this disorder persistently re-experiences a highly traumatic event and avoids stimuli associated with the trauma. Symptoms include increased arousal such as insomnia, irritability, difficulty concentrating, hypervigilance, or exaggerated startle response.
Roots of Anxiety Disorders
Many different interactive factors influence the development of anxiety disorders.
Many biological factors can contribute to the onset of anxiety disorders:
Genetic predisposition: Twin studies suggest that there may be genetic predispositions to anxiety disorders. Researchers typically use concordance rates to describe the likelihood that a disorder might be inherited. A concordance rate indicates the percentage of twin pairs who share a particular disorder. Research has shown that identical twins have a higher concordance rate for anxiety disorders than fraternal twins.
Differing sensitivity: Some research suggests that people differ in sensitivity to anxiety. People who are highly sensitive to the physiological symptoms of anxiety react with even more anxiety to these symptoms, which sets off a worsening spiral of anxiety that can result in an anxiety disorder.
Neurotransmitters: Researchers believe there is a link between anxiety disorders and disturbances in neural circuits that use the neurotransmitters GABA and serotonin. GABA limits nerve cell activity in the part of the brain associated with anxiety. People who do not produce enough GABA or whose brains do not process it normally may feel increased anxiety. Inefficient processing of serotonin may also contribute to anxiety.
Brain damage: Some researchers have suggested that damage to the hippocampus can contribute to PTSD symptoms.
SSRIs and Anxiety Disorders
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of drug commonly used to treat anxiety disorders. They raise the level of serotonin in the brain by preventing it from being reabsorbed back into cells that released it. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects sleep, alertness, appetite, and other functions. Abnormal levels of serotonin can lead to mood disorders.
Conditioning and Learning
Research shows that conditioning and learning also play a role in anxiety disorders:
Classical conditioning: People can acquire anxiety responses, especially phobias, through classical conditioning and then maintain them through operant conditioning: A neutral stimulus becomes associated with anxiety by being paired with an anxiety-producing stimulus. After this classical conditioning process has occurred, a person may begin to avoid the conditioned anxiety-producing stimulus. This leads to a decrease in anxiety, which reinforces the avoidance through an operant conditioning process. For example, a near drowning experience might produce a phobia of water. Avoiding oceans, pools, and ponds decreases anxiety about water and reinforces the behavior of avoidance.
Evolutionary predisposition: Researchers such as Martin Seligman have proposed that people may be more likely to develop conditioned fears to certain objects and situations. According to this view, evolutionary history biologically prepares people to develop phobias about ancient dangers, such as snakes and heights.
Observational learning: People also may develop phobias through observational learning. For example, children may learn to be afraid of certain objects or situations by observing their parents’ behavior in the face of those objects or situations.
Some researchers have suggested that people with certain styles of thinking are more susceptible to anxiety disorders than others. Such people have increased susceptibility for several reasons:
They tend to see threats in harmless situations.
They focus too much attention on situations that they perceive to be threatening.
They tend to recall threatening information better than nonthreatening information.
The personality trait of neuroticism is associated with a higher likelihood of having an anxiety disord
Why Study OB?
Through the informal nature of our social relationships, we can be quick to ‘diagnose’ an individuals’ behaviour. At work, however and due to the formal environment that it induces, trying to understand why a person behaves in such a way can be more difficult to understand. The complex nature of human beings only adds to this difficulty.
An effective manager needs to be intuitively aware of what it is, that makes each individual member tick. It is a managers’ responsibility to produce top quality and top results, and this can only be achieved through the commitment of all staff. The study of OB provides managers and those training to be managers, with the necessary level of awareness in order to adopt techniques that are relevant to their particular situation and organisation, which will assist them in their pursuit of managerial and organisational effectiveness.
Explains the impact of our actions through the different ways in which we views things through our sensory imaging. How we see things is not always the same as how others see things and this can cause conflict from lack of understanding.
How we perceive other people can be due to how we perceive ourselves. We can sometimes confuse the two and project our own image on others. This is especially relevant when incidents or situations can distort our understanding, such as with the halo effect or stereotyping. The effect of this in the work environment can be found through recruitment and selection, performance appraisals and general communication with others.
Job Related Attitudes
Attitudes are generally formed through the socialization process we all encounter from children into adulthood. These attitudes can come from the values that our carers hold, i.e. parents, teachers etc., or through certain experiences we have in life. Through time, these attitudes can become deep-rooted beliefs or values. Changing a person’s beliefs is rather like changing their mind-set – it is very difficult.
The whole process of attitudes, beliefs and values will be examined in order to identify how we can measure one’s attitudes to work and the impact one’s attitudes can have on others. The importance of understanding about job related attitudes is paramount, our lack of understanding only encourages ineffective communication, ill-health and poor working relationships.
The way in which we learn is based on how we actively interpret or assimilate information. If we prefer to learn a new method of work through actions, a step-by-step manual will have little impact on us. In the classroom for instance, some students will prefer to learn through case studies and lectures alone, whilst others will opt for a more interactive style such as role plays.
Learning in organisations has been seen to be both beneficial for the individual and the company. An individual that is actively involved in training and development and who is able to apply the learning from these events back into the workplace will generally, have an increased interest in their job and the organisation for which they are part of.
Is it money that motivates you to get out of bed on a wet, cold morning or is it the challenge you get from your job? Was it really more money that put nurses out on strike in the 1990’s or was it a deeper rooted need, such as a need for more accountability and responsibility in their jobs?
Motivation examines our internal and external drives, desires and needs. This area identifies how a manager can effectively motivate his/her workforce by being aware of individuals’ motivators. Conducting performance appraisals can be an effective time to gain a deeper insight into our understanding of effort, i.e. how much or how little an individual puts into their job, and why?
Stress and Health
Examines the differences between pressure at work and the physiological factors that can lead to stress. This area highlights how we can assess possible stress factors in others and how to effectively assist individuals in overcoming stress and ill health.
A stressor on the other hand, is some feature of the individuals’ environment that could be seen as threatening or dangerous. Stressors can be mainly physical in origin, e.g. excessive heat, noise, vibration, or mainly psychosocial in origin, e.g. poor management, disrespectful colleagues etc. If an individual experiences strain as a reaction to a stressor then this will result in a negative effect. These negative effects can manifest themselves in physical symptoms such as insomnia, excessive fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders, headaches, and serious disease, e.g., cardiovascular complaints. Or the effects may be psychological, such as depression and anxiety.
The theory behind group development is fascinating to observe (See Exercise 1: Group Development) and properly acknowledged, can provide accurate indicators for managers to manage. To fully gain the maximum involvement from all members of a group, a manager needs to be supportive and ready to either lend advice or more resources etc, or to delegate and invite the leader/chairperson to take control.
A general rule of thumb, with regard to the differences between groups and teams, is that teams are set up to achieve a specific task/project. Whereas, a group can have an indefinite life span, such as quality circles.
Team working is now common practice in many organisations and the benefits to the individual and organisation will be examined in this element of the module. In order to achieve a task or complete a project, team effectiveness is crucial. What are the components that contribute towards team effectiveness and leadership.
Effective communication is central to OB as a whole and although this area is predominately associated under the umbrella of Groups, its use and your understanding of it should be encouraged to be displayed throughout the whole module.
Understanding the complexity of communication can be simplified by acknowledging the type of structure found in organisations. Does the organisation of which you are part of, have a flat or tall organisational structure? How easy is it for you to observe the flow of communication in your organisation? Do you feel well informed about information and how it is communicated to you?
Identifying common barriers to communication will greatly assist you in your involvement and understanding of groups and teams. Are there effective methods in place to ensure a steady and smooth flow of communication in your place of work? Some organisations provide individuals with an internal newsletter, which keeps people up to date on professional and social matters. Are such methods of communication effective?
With your knowledge of group development and team effectiveness combined, your understanding of effective and ineffective communication will equip you with the basics needed in order to manage behaviour within groups, effectively.
Generally, when asked to think of a leader individuals will relate to people such as Adolf Hitler, Nelson Mandela or The Taoiseach. What is it that leads people to this conclusion? Is it the powerful position that these leaders hold, or can it be attributed towards certain characteristics that they hold?
To understand Leadership, you will need to grasp the historical approaches to this subject first. Firstly, is leadership innate – are we born leaders? Secondly, is the behaviour that is projected by the leader reflective towards the needs of the followers? Finally, can we distinguish the leader because they appear to know best what to do and is seen by the group as the most suitable leader in the particular situation?
Next we need to address the similarities and limitations of both leaders and managers. Is leadership reserved for only powerful and influential figures or is your or a previous manager, a leader? One of the most important findings to come out of the theory of leadership in recent times is the acknowledgement of the role of ‘followers’ within the discipline of Leadership. A ‘follower’ is an individual that is led by a leader. This area is particularly relevant when understanding leadership styles and how the willingness or readiness of the follower can have an affect on the effectiveness of a leader. After all, if a leader has no followers then he or she is effectively not leading. We also address the issue of power in organisations.
Organisational Change and Development
To fully identify with the area of organisational change try to think about how easy or difficult change is to you in your personal life. The manner in which change is embraced will have a large impact on how either an individual or an organisation views the need for such a change. A common response from some individuals towards change is "what was wrong with the way things were?" For organisations, the process of change whether planned or not, will be costly and time consuming but normally always necessary.
When you understand the influences that the internal and external environments have upon an organisation, this will greatly assist you in the understanding of the necessity for organisational change.
Look at a particular external environmental condition that is relevant to your organisation e.g. government legislation, and follow through the effect a change in this condition, can have on the organisation and hence the possible need for the organisation to change in response. Continue this through to the internal environment – what are the changes that you can envisage for customers, managers, individuals, groups etc. This should provide you with a sound understanding of the necessity for change. The following components in the area will address how to manage organisational change successfully.
Organisational Development (OD) addresses the company through and after the change with techniques such as team building. An interesting identification is the effect all of this change has on the culture of the organisation, the structure of the organisation and the issue of management development and organisational effectiveness.
Resolving Conflicts with Colleagues
Think of a colleague/subordinate with whom you have an acknowledged conflict and analyse the situation using the following 4 Step process:
Step 1 Recognise the problem
• Is the problem important enough to acknowledge?
Step 2 Try to understand each other’s position
• Write down your own thoughts and feelings about the conflict.
• Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and write down your perception of how the other person thinks and feels about the conflict and what thoughts or feelings he or she attributes to you.
Step 3 Discuss the problem
• How would you define the problem? Would the other person’s definition of the problem differ? If so, how?
• How do you think the other person perceives his or her own contribution, if any, to the conflict?
• What is your perception of your own, if any, contributions to the problem?
• Is there a hidden agenda? What do you think it is?
• Is there any common ground between you? What is it?
Step 4 Resolve the problem
• What is your preferred solution to the problem?
• What are the advantages and disadvantages of your solution?
• How would your solution be implemented? Would you use a third party?
One of the costs, for employers, of work place stress is absenteeism, with the A.C.T.U. reporting that owing to stress, nearly fifty per cent of employees surveyed had taken time off work. Other negative effects were reductions in productivity, reduced profits, accidents, high rates of sickness, increased workers' compensation claims and high staff turnover, requiring recruiting and training of replacement staff.
While a certain amount of stress is needed to motivate individuals into action, prolonged stress can have a huge impact on overall health. More than two-thirds of visits to doctors' surgeries are for stress-related illnesses. Stress has been linked to headaches, backaches, insomnia, anger, cramps, elevated blood pressure, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and lowered resistance to infection. For women, stress is a key factor in hormonal imbalances resulting in menstrual irregularities, PMS, fibroids, endometriosis and fertility problems. Stress can also be a factor in the development of almost all disease states including cancer and heart disease.
Each profession has its own unique factors that may cause stress; below are some causes of stress that cross many professions:
Lack of recognition
Lack of support
Personal and family issues
Poor work organization
Lack of training
Long or difficult hours
Inadequate staff numbers and resources
Poor management communication
Lack of control or input
So what can be done to effectively manage workplace stress?
Educate their employees to recognise the signs of stress.
Where possible, give their employees the chance to be involved in decisions and actions that affect their jobs.
Improve employer-employee communications.
Provide employees with opportunities to socialise together.
Be understanding of employees' personal and family responsibilities.
Ensure employee workloads suit their capabilities and resources (provide more training and resources if not).
Provide support (internal) for employees who have complex stress issues.
Employees can reduce their overall stress by:
Regularly exercising, as this releases 'happy hormones'.
Eating a healthy diet, as stress depletes vital nutrients.
Getting adequate rest.
Being more organized. Get up earlier to have more time.
Delegating responsibility where possible. Say no!
Avoiding caffeine and sugar. Although this may provide an instant lift it later depletes the body of energy and nutrients.
Taking time to do things that bring enjoyment and pleasure.
Making the work environment pleasurable. Taking care of their overall health and wellbeing by practising good self-care.
Sometimes trying to implement change (even for the better) can itself cause stress and prevent a person remaining motivated. In this case it's important to get support for your stress from a counsellor, doctor, naturopath, friend, peer or life coach who specializes in stress issues.
The benefits of a systematic and joint approach to reducing work stress are:
Decrease in absenteeism
Decrease in workers' compensation claims
Reduction in workplace accidents
The most important benefit of reducing workplace stress is that it will promote a healthy, happy and pleasant work environment for all.
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