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Get the 'shoulds' out of the workplace.

Get the 'Shoulds' Out of the Workplace

Gary Wood's talk was just what the doctor ordered.

After a night of cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, late dinners and insomnia and a morning packed with informative presentations, risk managers and others at the Florida RIMS Educational Conference needed some relief. Mr. Wood, a Tampa, FL-based psychologist who specializes in stress management, helped many of those present in his session relieve their stress and encouraged them to share his ideas with fellow managers, line supervisors and others employees.

"Stress has always been a problem," said Mr. Wood. "Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution we have seen particular changes in people" due to it.

Although some stress is essential for the proper functioning of the human body, too much of it can cause people to experience anxiety, headaches, fatigue, sexual disfunction and appetite loss, he said. Because most supervisors are unable or are unwilling to detect and help stressed-out employees, the result is lost productivity and greater absenteeism, workplace accidents and grievances, he added.

But in the last two decades, "many major companies have found it socially, legally and morally responsible to establish stress management programs," said Mr. Wood.

In most cases, psychologists have found, people are more affected by personal stress rather than on-the-job stress. In addition, many individuals do not seek professional help until at least one year after symptoms appear because they fear embarrassment and are worried about the cost.

The belief that we must or should perform in a certain way is a major contributor to stress, said Mr. Wood. "If you determine your worth based on performance, it's going to be like living on a roller coaster," he said.

As a result, he believes that "you must get your children and people around you to view the world as it is and not as it should, ought or must be." Supervisors can help their workers by giving them reasonable goals followed by positive reinforcement or specific negative criticisms. "Can you control other people or outcomes? No, but you can influence outcomes by giving people incentives," he said.

Emotional support from family, friends and co-workers on the same level helps people overcome stressful situations, he said. Relaxation is also important. Certain exercises, such as breathing techniques and visual imagery, can also help people calm down.

"Love, play and work in that order," advised Mr. Wood.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Title Annotation:risk managers
Author:Schussel, Mark L.
Publication:Risk Management
Date:Oct 1, 1990
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