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Stress at Work

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Stress at Work


Many may consider the current thinking about the harmful effects of stress and particularly stress in the workplace as a get rich scheme for a bunch of do-gooders. It maybe considered that it's a phenomena that has come about to provide and create many new organisation such as this one.


Our biological reaction to things that threaten us was developed at a very early phase of our evolution. At this time it was much clearer if we successfully resolved the threatening situation, as it was clearly a case of surviving or not as the case maybe. In many cases our perception of the threat was that a physical reaction would be sufficient in overcoming the threat. This has become known as the 'Fight or Flight' response. However as our lives have become more and more complex and we face many more challenges, which maybe considered threatening can only be tackled on a psychological level and have arisen, as we have become a more social and technological animal. This being said, the natural biological reaction to a threat in the preparedness of the physical response needs to be resolved at the psychological level in order to negate and resolve the initial perception of threat. It is important that we can first recognise a potential source of threat (a stressor) and secondly that we are suitably equipped to be able to deal with it and resolve it.


At the psychological level if the individual can perceive they have the ability through clear identification of the threat and that they have the skills to bring about successful resolution this has a positive effect and can be considered Positive stress (or eustress) that in turn brings its own biological rewards to the individual.


When the stressor cannot be identified or the individual feels helpless in being able to resolve the threat this becomes Negative stress (or distress). This in turn also promotes a number of biological responses that are protective to the individual and if sustained for lengthy periods can be very detrimental to them, firstly keeping the 'Fight or Flight' reaction in a state of readiness. A further biological reaction is one that inhibits the formulation of new memories.


Therefore rather than just being a current fad, the identification through our growing knowledge that stress can be detrimental to the individual or that if tackled correctly that it can have positive effects for individual and organisation is worth investing in.