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Stress Management for team members (continued)

Biological; Social; Rational; Experiential; Psychodynamic; Spiritual

What are the causes of stress?

The factors that contribute to the experience of stress are many and varied. A useful overview of these causes can be gained by using the 'analysis wheel', to view them. Using this wheel, you can take six different perspectives on the causes of stress. Each of the lists below contains a sample of ideas only - there are many more causes of stress than those listed.

Biological

The causes of some stress lie in the biological make up of your body, or the interaction of your body with the food you eat or environment you live in. Some examples of the biological causes of stress include:

Social/cultural

Stress can be caused by a whole range of social and cultural pressures, such as:

Psychodynamic

The term 'psychodynamic' refers to subconscious thoughts and feelings, which often arise from childhood experiences. The way in which you learned to cope in childhood is by using defence mechanisms that involved a degree of self deception. You still use those defences today. Examples of psychodynamic causes of stress include:

Rational

The rational processes in our minds constantly interpret and evaluate the world around. Events can be interpreted in many ways, and the way in which this is done can influence the level of stress that is felt. Some examples of rational causes of stress include:

Experiential

What are you experiencing at this point in time, and how are you, personally, reacting to it? The way in which each individual experiences each snapshot in time, even in very similar situations, is very different. One person may find a situation highly stressful, whilst another may find it stimulating or enjoyable - every reaction is unique. There may be many instant pressures that cause an individual to experience stress, such as:

Spiritual

The need for individual spiritual development has long been recognised by religion. It is only during the last 30 years that psychology has acknowledged the existence of a spiritual side to the individual. Some spiritual causes of stress include:

Addressing the causes of stress

Once you have identified the causes of your stress, you can then make plans to address them. For example:

Cause of stress Action that can be taken to reduce stress
Need for time of privacy and solitude not being met Find a place and a time of day when you can be on your own, or go on a retreat
Lack of fitness Engage in some sport or fitness activity (may need to consult your doctor)
Unexplained inner feelings of stress Consult a doctor, and perhaps get referral to an appropriate specialist (eg: a counsellor or dietician)
Stressful job circumstances Negotiate different working schedules with your boss
PMT Consult your doctor about available treatments
Lack of skill to resolve conflict or manage demanding workload Attend training courses in assertiveness, conflict resolution or time management

In conclusion

The analysis wheel can be useful in both recognising the causes of stress and in planning how to address them. Each perspective offers a different way of explaining the origins of stress. These perspectives do not necessarily provide 'either..or' explanations - they can be complementary and provide different views of the same cause.

For example, if someone is looking after a large number of children, and finding it stressful, the different perspectives might offer complentary explanations:

Whilst these explanations are different, they are not totally independent. In fact, they may well be integrated or intertwined. (This can perhaps be likened to several strands of spaghetti on the same plate - you cannot alter one without moving the whole plateful). For example:

When you read books on stress management, bear the analysis wheel in mind. Ask yourself whether the book is considering stress from a number of perspectives, or whether it is focussing on just one. For example, a book on stress that focuses on physical fitness and diet is using (primarily) the biological perspective. For some people, whose causes of stress lie primarily in biological causes, such a book is very useful. But if your stress is rooted in social or psychodynamic causes, taking a biological approach to managing stress is going to be of limited benefit.

Biological; Social; Rational; Experiential; Psychodynamic; Spiritual

Summary

The stages involved in managing stress are:
  1. recognising the symptoms of stress
  2. identifying the causes
  3. taking action to address the causes and thereby reduce the symptoms
  4. where necessary, taking interim steps to relieve the symptoms until the underlying causes have been addressed.

It can help you to identify the causes and solutions of stress by using the analysis wheel (right).


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©2013 Team Technology. Further articles/resources that may be of interest include: Personality Test, Personality Type Descriptions, Myers Briggs overview, The Basics of Team Building, What Career is Right for Me?, and Career ideas.