A Simple Work Stress Solution for Social Workers
Q: A black snake crossed my path. Does this mean bad luck for me?
A: Only if it bites you.
I was riding my bike when I saw the four foot snake slithering across the road. I knew that if I kept riding, our paths would intersect in the same place at the same time. The snake startled me and I had to acknowledge that it was a snake and it was moving in my direction. I do not like snakes, quite frankly, they frighten me. I have, however, learned a few facts to keep myself safe.
We are often influenced by perceived hazards in the work environment. These include stressful interactions with supervisors or colleagues. Changes in systems, structures, procedures or personnel could be perceived as potential hazards. Our perception of these events can increase the overwhelming stress individuals feel and that is felt in the work environment. Just like the black snake, these situations could be potential hazards if we do not have the skills, knowledge or experience to respond appropriately.
Determine the real hazard: the snake in itself was not a hazard. The snake was a corn snake. They are non-aggressive snakes that eat small rodents. I recognized that it could have been a different type of snake or a poisonous snake which could have been more dangerous. The reality is that the snake I encountered only posed a hazard if I chose to engage without the skills or experience to handle it while maintaining my safety.
Change your mindset: The initial perception of danger was created by me. The snake was minding its own business crossing the road trying to get to safety. It had no intentions of interacting with me. I was riding my bike and I had no desire to come close to it. Another’s actions are not always intended to create harm.
Stay focused: Distractions prevent us from reaching our own professional goals. Determine if there is a real threat and take the appropriate action. Otherwise, stay focused so that you can reach your own goals.
Pause: Momentary pauses help you to regroup, recharge, and re-focus. We all need time to think clearly. Allow the hazard to move out of your way so that you can continue on your journey. I stopped and allowed the snake to crawl into the grass. I waited a moment watching as it lifted its head to look around. When it finished surveying its new territory, I proceeded on my bike ride.
Prepare: Build your career on a firm foundation of knowledge, skills and experience.
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Real Social Workers Online Magazine Copyright ©2016 Marcyline L. Bailey All Rights Reserved