Managing stress for career success
By Prasanna Perera, Marketing and Management Consultant, Chartered Marketer, CIM, UK.

Today, we live in a world full of stress. From the moment we wake up, to the time we go to bed, life is indeed a rat race and hectic. How do we manage this stress and achieve success in our life and career? This brief article addresses this aspect.

What is stress?
The Webster's Dictionary defines stress as an "emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension".
A practical way of defining stress is the feeling one gets from prolonged, pent up emotions. If the emotions you experience are pleasant and desirable - joy, ecstasy, delight - you usually feel free to let them show.

They are not suppressed. Therefore, positive emotions do not usually cause stress. Negative emotions, on the other hand are more often held inside. They are hidden and you suffer quietly and experience stress.

Causes and effects of stress
Here are some words that describe the emotions associated with stress.

Anxiety Strain Anger Pressure Desperation Panic Misery Tension Dejection
Prolonged stress can be devastating; burnout, breakdown and depression are some of the potential results of long term, unmanaged stress. Stress in your private life influences your work and vice versa. There is simply no way to survive the experience of long term stress without damage to your private and work life. It is almost impossible to insulate one from the other.

Sometimes stress can have desirable effects. You may have heard someone say, "I like to work under stress. If I have a deadline to meet I work harder". Physical stress builds muscles. For some people "test anxiety" improves performance. The key aspect is to be able to avoid crossing the line between improved performance and harmful stress.

Stress Signals
If you are experiencing long term stress, you may or may not be aware of it. Even if you are, you may choose to avoid facing up to your problems.
Following are some signs and symptoms of stress you should be concerned about.
Physical Symptoms

  • Pounding of the heart
  • Dryness of the throat or mouth
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling constantly tired
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Chronic pain in the neck or back
  • Difficulty in breathing

You may be depressed and not realize it. Depression is an emotional disorder, marked by unexplained sadness, inactivity, and a feeling of emptiness.

How do you handle stress?
There are many effective ways to handle stress. You can manage your life, so that you survive the emotional down times without allowing stress to overpower you.

An important way to handle stress is to develop your ability to work under pressure or unusual conditions. Almost everyone, at least at some point, has to meet deadlines, keep several jobs going at once, and do extra work when necessary. Relaxation is the key but most people must train themselves to relax when the pressure is on.

Maintaining good health also helps to effectively deal with stress. Regular exercise can help relieve stress. Activity, such as moderate walking, can relieve tension and relax your body.

A healthy diet is another important element of stress reduction. Most medical experts agree that cutting down on fatty meats, dairy products, sweets and salt, help to relieve stress. It is generally recommended that eating more fruits, vegetables, poultry and fish, has a calming effect on a stressed out person.
If you experience stress as a result of working too hard, for too long, without a break, you should try to "get away from it all". Weekends, holidays and hours after work can relieve stress if you spend some of the time doing things you enjoy. Reward yourself for all your hard work. Take some time to enjoy yourself.

In this brief article, I have endeavoured to outline the dimensions of stress and how to manage it.
"All stress is not harmful. There are positive outcomes of stress".

"When under stress, stay calm and collected".

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