Stress Managing Styles
The first step in managing your stress is to know what types of stressors affect you and decide which style of stress management best suits you.
We all react to stress differently and therefore, must find the best way to manage our stressors. Since there may be several ways of managing a given situation, we need to find a style that best helps us deal with a particular stressor.
There are three styles which can be used individually, or in combination with one another. They are as follows:
· Task Oriented – Here the situation is analyzed and immediately dealt with thus reducing the level of stress it causes. Here are some examples:
Sharon had an important report due a week after returning from holiday. She obsessed over it knowing that it would be a difficult task to complete. However, she did not want to spend her vacation worrying about it, nor did she want to do any work on it while she was away from the office. She analyzed the situation and decided the best way to deal with it was to somehow get it out of the way before she left and then all she had to do was to tweak it on her return. She looked at the workload and prioritized it. She determined she could spend at least two hours a day working on the report. The items with the least priority would be pushed back for when she returned. By dealing with the problem directly, she was able to reduce the stress before, during and after her holiday.
In another example, students are often overwhelmed by the amount of material they have to cover when studying for a final examination, even when they have been studying regularly during the semester and generally having several weeks to prepare prior to taking the exam. This is caused by their perception that they cannot cover all of the material. This is an emotion-oriented behavior. Some of the successful students adopt the following strategy to deal with this situation. Rather than studying in isolation, they study in a group, with each student studying a different section or subject and preparing mock examination questions. Then the group gets together and discusses each subject and goes over the mock questions with the student who is an expert in that area. By using this strategy, the emotion and stress each student feels is reduced when the perceived amount of material each one has to handle is reduced.
· Emotion Oriented – The strategy adopted here involves efforts to alter the emotional response to the stressor. It can also involve looking at the problem from a different angle which does not produce an emotional response and therefore, reduces stress.
· Avoidance Oriented - Here techniques are used to distract, avoid or deny the existence of a problem. It can also involve engaging in some unrelated activity to take your mind off a situation and avoid stress.
You can employ avoidance oriented techniques to relieve stress by indulging in other activities like participating in a sport, playing video games or watching television. These are good techniques for temporary stress relief, but it should not be used to delay or put-off important activities like studying for an exam, seeking debt counseling or other major events in your life which will increase your stress levels if they are neglected and later catch up with you.
Use a style or a combination of styles you are comfortable with to cope with some of the stressors in your life.