Rhode Island Monthly Meeting Planning 2012 : Page 10

SPE CIAL AD VER TISING SE CTION ENTERPRISING WOMEN 2012 Dealing with Stress in the Workplace Its sources — and remedies — are different for every woman. By Rebecca Christophersen, NP STRESS IN THE WORKPLACE: What does that mean to you as a woman? Stress is a condition that can mean different things to different women. With high demands and reduced control in the workplace, some level of stress is inevitable. In manag-ing stress, it is essential to figure out how you as a unique individual perceive and experience stress. One’s threshold for stress perception may vary and caution should be taken not to be judgmental towards self or others. Workplace stressors for women include interpersonal conflict, role ambiguity, inadequate salary, lack of autonomy, competition for advancement, insufficient personal time, and holding oneself to higher than neces-98 RHODE ISLAND MONTHLY sary expectations. Societal standards place undue stress on the role of women in the workplace as well in challeng-ing them to make a choice between career and family, sending a message that balance cannot be achieved. Stress can affect your mind and body. Some women experience stress by feeling tired, sad, angry, nervous or somatic symptoms such as upset stomach, headaches, and muscle aches. Stress can disrupt sleep, cause high blood pressure, diminish self-care, and decrease confidence in the workplace. Besides feeling stress, you may be coping with your stress in ineffective ways: yelling, arguing, eating, and withdrawing. If you do not replenish yourself, stress will spew out your pores whether you think you have it under “control” or not. Women have the tendency to put on a strong front. But in reality, is that healthy? In stress management, having a more balanced perspective or “gray” thought process versus “black and white” thinking increases the likelihood of effective stress tolerance. The key is not to “control” situations, emotions, or experiences, but manage instead. Most women feel they should be focusing all their time on caring for their children, families, managing day to day tasks and work. You can only manage effectively at your work if you take care of yourself first. Unfortunately, if you do something for yourself, you might feel like you are being selfish or not working hard enough. If you spend all your time and energy on doing things for everybody else, you will eventually feel drained; you may become overwhelmed and feel unsupported, which leads to physiologic and psychological discomfort. Doing something for you is called “self-care” and will help you take care of yourself and others better. Everyone has their own way of dealing with stress. Some women prefer active relax-ation, such as exercise, and others like to relax by sitting quietly. There are multiple ways to deal with stress in the workplace including, but not limited to, relaxation tech-niques such as yoga, medita-tion, prayer, deep breathing, imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation; choosing a job that has purpose and meaning; physical activity; and practicing mindful cognitive thought reframing to increase positive affirmations. Performing a self-assess-ment to determine where and how you experience stress will guide you towards the self-care techniques that will work for you. Just because one technique might not be effective, doesn’t mean you should give up. Remember to think in the “gray” to maintain balanced daily functioning. You need to find out what works best for you! Rebecca Christophersen is a women’s mental health nurse practitioner at Women & Infants Hospital. l FOCUS ON BUSINESS 2012

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