An informative session Monday dealt with a topic many people are familiar with, regardless of their job: stress. “How to prevent, reduce and cope with stress in the workplace” was presented by Jim Allivato of ATI Worksite Solutions.

“Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the demands of life,” Allivato said. He discussed the various forms of stress and what they mean.

Distress, or negative stress, can be defined as causing anxiety or concern, it can be short- or long-term, feels unpleasant, decreases performance, and can lead to mental and physical problems.

Eustress is a positive reaction to stressor, and it motivates, is short-term, feels exciting and improves performance.

Things that have changed in the workforce that lead to higher stress include:

  • Increase in shift work, night and weekend work;
  • Increase in part-time work and overtime;
  • Working very fast;
  • Never having enough time to finish work;
  • And general intensification of work.

Work-related stress is the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope. Stress occurs in a wide range of work circumstances but is often made worse when employees feel they have little support from supervisors and colleagues, Allivato said.

He said “the only way to do something about how you feel is to know why you are feeling the way you do.”

Understanding the natural stress response is key to managing your stress levels. Allivato discussed what he calls “The four A’s of stress management”

  1. Avoid stress by taking control of your environment, planning and prioritizing your duties.
  2. Alter your stress by managing time better and communicating with others to change their behavior if it affects you.
  3. Accept that some things are going to be the way they are and you must move on and focus on the positive. Learn from past mistakes and accept them as teachable moments.
  4. Adapt by redefining the need to achieve perfection in order to function with less frustration and stop gloomy thoughts before they occur. Try to reframe the situation by looking at it through another person’s eyes.