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KEEPING OCCUPATIONAL STRESS UNDER CONTROL

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It used to be that we would worry about "stress," speaking generically. Now, however, it has multiplied upon itself and segmented into everything from "techo-stress" (in which you are not keeping current with all the latest software and technological innovations in your occupation) to "social stress" (in which your social media contacts are lagging behind your 1,000 other "friends").

Well, there are specific ways to gauge your current levels of stress, as well as specific ways to reduce those levels.

Determining Your Stress Potential

Mathematically, you can calculate your stress level by working this formula:
(Want – Have) x (Importance to You) = Stress Potential.

For example, what you want is to look the way you did when you were 24 and just starting in the business so that you'll appear fabulous on the teleconferencing presentation you have to make in two months. What you have is 35 pounds of excess weight, the start of a double chin, and a graying hair.

This leaves you with two choices, depending on how important this presentation is to your career. First, you can commit to making cosmetic changes: dye your hair; go on a diet; start to exercise; and alter your wardrobe to create a more flattering look. Or, second, you can accept the fact that you are middle-aged and that many of your colleagues are middle-aged, too, and you won't seem odd or unusual to them; thus, as long as your material is solid, informative, and presented with pizzazz, you'll do just fine.

If you accept neither option, you'll just worry yourself senseless. Naturally, you can also opt for a combination resolution, i.e. accept the fact that, yes, you are aging so appearance changes are just a part of life; but also remind yourself that teleconferencing is here to stay, so it wouldn't hurt to lose a few pounds and to spruce up your image a bit.

Taking Control of Stress

Stress is an internal reaction to external pressure. It often results in headaches, stomach cramps, nervousness, and either loss of appetite or binge eating. There are three factors related to controlling stress.

#1 Realize control is possible. You got yourself into this mess, and you can get yourself out. If your department is overspending, then you have to cut expenditures, reduce payroll, and delete some perks. Whatever the problem, you can attack it.

#2 Realize that NOW is the time to take action. Stalling won't reduce your problem, it will only allow it to grow worse. Do something today to regain control. Start poorly, if you have to, but start! Any positive action will begin to reduce your stress.

#3 Decide which pressures are worth reacting to and which are not. Make a list of your stressors. Cross off the ones you have no control over and quit worrying about them. Focus your full attention on matters you can impact and turn around. Make decisions work toward getting you back on track.

A certain amount of stress keeps us on our toes. Too much stress hamstrings us. Keep stress under control and both you and your business will thrive.

Dennis E. Hensley, Ph.D is a director of the professional writing department at Taylor University. His 52 books include The Power of Positive Productivity (Possibility Press) and Man to Man (Kregel).

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