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Our everyday life is accompanied by haste and tension. Not only that we live with a watch in hand, we still have to cope with many obligations, to play the role of a good employee, partner, parent, and colleague – all this generates stress. Such a stress can be mobilising, it makes us use our time properly, helps to concentrate and our performance improves (Eustress). But if the dose of stress is getting bigger, many of us can not deal with it. We become nervous, irritable, lose faith in ourselves, and feel like we are in a vicious circle from which it is impossible to get out. Getting tired of everything, we are increasingly dissatisfied with each other (Distress). (Harry Mills,Natalie Reiss, Mark Dombeck, 2018) Therefore, it is worth taking a closer look at your life and appreciate the role of positive stress, and reduce the effects of this excessive one, which has a destructive impact on both – our mind and health.
Stress is a phenomenon commonly known and experienced almost by every person. Colloquially, the concept of stress is understood as an unpleasant condition caused by a difficult situation, e.g. illness or negative experiences. It is associated with feelings such as tension, fatigue, a sense of hopelessness, a sense of inability to cope with a given situation and even pain.
It is often said that stress is a sign of our times, that the current conditions in which a person lives are conducive to the creation of stress. However, in fact, the phenomenon of stress has always accompanied human’s life. Humans always had to face and cope with more and less difficult challenges that life had thrown at them and they had to adapt to changing environmental conditions, but the difference is only in its sources. According to contrary and colloquial opinions, stress is something natural in our lives, and the phenomenon of stress is not negative, in a small dose is necessary and can motivate us to act, but in excess it can disorganize our behaviour or even badly affects our health. (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) Therefore, the problem with stress lies in whether we are able to manage it and how can deal with it – simply speaking, how affectively we can “tame” it.
According to (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) stress is the relationship between a person and the environment, which is assessed by the person as aggravating or exceeding his or her resources and threatening his or her well-being. Due to the strength and scope of their influence, they distinguished the following categories of stressors:
- Dramatic disaster events covering whole groups – they include events that happen to several people or to whole communities at the same time. They are usually unpredictable, have a very strong impact and require great efforts to deal with stress. Natural disasters, wars, large scale contamination and technical catastrophes are examples of stressors – cataclysms. They attack the most basic human values, like life, shelter, putting very high demands. (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984)
- Serious challenges and threats related to individuals or to several people – these are usually events in personal or professional life. They may or may not be unpredictable. The list of this type of stressors, includes events such as death of a spouse, divorce, separation, imprisonment, loss of employment, as well as marriages. The list also included positive events ( for example, a holiday trip). All these events involve the necessity of adjusting themselves to each other. Minor, everyday afflictions these are small but persistent problems, the “nuisance of everyday life”. These include, for example, minor misunderstandings in the family, inability to find the right thing or the difficulty of being on time. Those type of stressors’ strength lies in the universality and high frequency of occurrence. (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984)
When analysing the concept of the stressors the following needs to be taken into account:
a) Strength and range of influence of stressors (from dramatic events, such as war, natural disasters that affecting whole group, individuals to minor everyday nuisances and troubles, such as to miss the bus, or disagreement with your colleagues) (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984).
b) Constant changes in life (death of family member, marriage, unemployment, divorce, illness) and the change itself (new job, new place, school, new technology –the fear of the unknown).
c) Controllability of stressors (what extent their occurrence, course and consequences depend on the intentional action of those involved. The control of the majority of stressful events is limited, they are partially controllable, in some respects, under certain conditions or up to a certain point in time. For example, lack of control over situation in workplace is a reason of stress.
d) The time characteristics of stressors (short-term stressful situations, such as visit with a doctor, recurrent events that cause chronic stress or a series of stressful activities, such as long-term conflict in workplace or incurable illness) (McLeod, 2009).
The above classification, helps to identify stressors as factors (internal and external) which are very diverse and can be characterised from different points of view, because different people will have different reactions to particular situations. The human body reacts to stressful situation on both physiological (accelerated breathing and rapid heartbeat, excessive sweating, and disturbances in the functioning of the digestive system) and mental level (reduced ability to concentrate and make decisions, defining the situation as a threat, thinking about the situation and yourself in negative categories). These reactions are accompanied by feelings of anxiety. (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984)
The next step in the stress management is to find an effective strategies for coping with challenging situations. Their effectiveness would be determined by type of stressor, the person involved and the situation itself (McLeod, 2009). According to (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) there are two type of coping responses: emotional focused and problem focused. Emotional focused coping involves many techniques, such as reducing the negative emotions, (anxiety, embarrassment, fear, depression, excitement and frustration) by meditation, relaxation training, praying, eating and drinking more. Emotion-focused coping is not a long term solution because may have negative side effects as it delays the person dealing with the problem. However, any of those methods may be the only realistic option when the source of stress is outside the person’s control. The second type of response is an active behaviour – reaction that helps to change the stressful situation in order to eliminate or reduce the stress. Problem-Focused tactics are: problem-solving, obtaining a social support, setting realistic expectations, a good time management (McLeod, 2009)
The modern world is moving forward. Hurry became our obsession. People are caught up in competition, crushed by duties they cannot stop. Attempting to perfectly combine home and business matters means that each day is one big race. This race against time – costs us a lot – our health, well-being, happiness. So what is Time, and why it is so important to learn how to manage it?
The Time has different meaning to different people. Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden- Tuner (Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden – Turner, 1997)explained The Time rightly:
“Time is increasingly viewed as a factor that organisations must manage. There are time-and-motion studies, time-to-market, and just-in-time, along with ideas that products age, or mature, and have a life cycle similar to that of human beings. Uniquely in the animal kingdom, man is aware of time and tries to control it. Man thinks almost universally in categories of past, present and future, but does not give the same importance to each one (…) How we think of time is interwoven with how we plan, strategise and co-ordinate our activities with others. It is an important dimension of how we organise experience and activities.” (Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden – Turner, 1997).Their definition of time helps us to believe, that the value of our time is influenced by how we used the time that has passed and how we approach the time that will come. And because we evaluate what has passed and what it will be, we give value to our time ourselves. We give it a value by assessing whether something is worth our time or it is just a waste of it. Therefore, if the Time is important to us we will make sure, we use it efficiently with a great appreciation. For that reason, an effective time management is the key to a better quality of life. Proper time management requires planning and organizing your own actions in such a way as to lead to the fastest achievement of the intended goals. By setting goals and defining our priorities and what is important in our life, we will be able to recognize unproductive activities ‘time stealers’ that we do consciously and unconsciously. This could be anything from many hours watching TV, a mobile device and its endless appeal, multitasking, jumping around from one thing to the next one without a plan , failure to delegate, dealing only with the ‘urgent’ rather than the ‘urgent and important’ items or being disorganised. Having knowledge, of what steals the time it will allow to limit them and gain more time to rest and develop relationships with loved ones (Hutchinson, 2018). One of the other condition when introducing beneficial changes in time management system is to make haste slowly. A careful life is a conscious choice of what we do. Hurrying up slowly does not mean giving up actions or efforts, this means to live more carefully, without excessive haste, closer to nature, celebrating moments, consciously making decisions, creating your own world and following the rhythm to pursue goals or make the dreams come true. By doing something slower, we focus on what we do here and now, without sweating the small stuff and waste energy on unnecessary things. Guided by Sophocles words “Hurry slowly to avoid mistakes” stressed person can live slower, in order to gain more time for tackling unfavourable situation or problem, trying to find the best solution for it, and to draw conclusions for the future. Experiencing each day carefully and enjoying the each moment leads to a good, peaceful life, in which it is easier to accept the failure and what is inevitable.
Regardless of how we look at stress, regardless of whether we have seen that it is nothing bad in itself, we must remember that it is simply a part of our lives. A stress-free life is simply impossible. The only sensible approach to stress is learning to deal with it. The first step to do this is to develop the habit of reflection – “observation” of your own experiences. When we know what causes fear in us, we can take appropriate action. When we know our feelings and reactions, we can learn how to control them. And more importantly, if we gain ability to manage time effectively we not only be able to reduce stress but also prevent it.
- Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden – Turner, 1997. How We Manage Time. In: Riding The Waves of Culture ,Understanding Cultural Diversity in Business. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing Ltd, p. 120.
- Hutchinson, H., 2018. Time Management Slides, Dublin: Hely Hutchinson Training.
- Lazarus, R. & Folkman, S., 1984. Concept of Stress. In: Stress,Apraissal and Coping. 1st ed. New York: Springer Publishing Company Inc, pp. 11-14.
McLeod, S., 2009. Emotion Focused Coping. [Online]
Available at: https://www.simplypsychology.org/stress-management.html
[Accessed 14 November 2018].
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