26 May

With the national lockdown now on day 102, people are now more stressed that before worrying about securing their jobs, keeping their health in check, the state of the economy and dealing with Covid-19 pandemic.

Being faced with a possibility of retrenchment or being laid-off from work can be a stressful situation especially for breadwinners, however living with high levels of stress is even more dangerous as it can lead to other conditions such as strokes, brain damage or even heart attacks. Managing stress can be a demanding process on its own but effective stress management can help you break the hold stress has on your life.

Below are some stress management tips UASA has put together to help our members cope:

Identify the source of stress

Firstly, you need to identify the source of stress. When identifying your source of stress, remember to not overlook how your own thoughts, feelings or behaviour contribute towards your everyday stress level.

Common causes of workplace stress include:

  • Fear of being laid off or retrenched.
  • More overtime due to staff cutbacks.
  • Pressure to perform to meet rising expectations but with no increase in job satisfaction.
  • Pressure to work at optimum levels all the time!
  • Lack of control over how you do your work.

If you are faced with the possibilities of retrenchment, stressing will not help you to alter the situation but it can affect you negatively. Instead of stressing, use this time to start looking for another job or other source of income.

Remember to always contact UASA your union for assistance if ever you are faced with the possibilities of retrenchments at your workplace.

Practice the 4 A’s of stress management

Avoid, Alter, Adapt and Accept: these are four practical stress management tips you can adapt to deal with stress management.

Avoid unnecessary stress

  • Learn how to say NO if you are not happy with or not in agreement of what is being asked of you. 
  • Take control of your environment these can be changes to make in your workplace.
  • Note down your to-do list – analyse your schedule, responsibilities and daily tasks in your workplace.

Alter the situation

  • Express your feelings instead of bottling them up, (you can discuss this with your manager, supervisor or senior at work).
  • Be willing to compromise and work together with your colleagues.
  • Create a balanced schedule and manage your tasks according to relevance and deadlines.

Adapt to the stressor

  • Reframe problems – try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective.
  • Look at the big picture – take perspective of the stressful situation.
  • Adjust your standards – perfectionism is a major source to avoid stress.
  • Practice gratitude – reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts.
  • Share your feelings – talk to a trusted friend, colleague or a therapist.

Accept the things you can’t change

Some sources of stress are unavoidable or out of your control. You can’t prevent or change stressors such family issues, financial stress, a serious illness or the national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are.

Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change

  • Don’t try to control the uncontrollable
  • Look for the upside, when facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.

Connect with others and build relationships

  • Reach out to a colleague at work.
  • Help someone else by volunteering.
  • Have lunch or coffee with a friend and relax to relieve stress.
  • Ask a loved one to check in with you regularly.
  • Meet new people by taking a class or joining a club.

Manage your time better

Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you are under pressure, it is hard to stay calm and focused which results on being tempted to avoid or cut back on all the healthy things you should be doing to keep your stress level in check, like socialising and getting enough sleep.

To keep your stress level under control consider practicing the following:

  • Do not over commit yourself – avoid scheduling tasks back-to-back or trying to fit too much into one day.
  • Prioritise your work – make a list of tasks you have to do, and tackle them in order of importance
  • Break projects into small steps – focus on one manageable step at a time, rather than taking on everything at once.
  • Delegate responsibility – let go of the desire to control or oversee every little step.
  • Avoid procrastination at all cost

Maintain a balanced healthy lifestyle

  • Eat a healthy diet – be mindful of what you eat, keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals.
  • Reduce caffeine and sugar.
  • Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs – deal with problems head on and with a clear mind.
  • Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally.
  • Seek help from qualified persons should you not be able to maintain such a balance.

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