Perception and the Stress Response

>For REAL Social Workers If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this particular picture is worth a million. How many times have you felt this way in the past month, week or day? Perhaps you came close to being in a similar encounter. The frustration, anger, and lack of control that is demonstrated in this picture are extreme in the workplace. Over the course of the day, however, one experiences aggravation, frustration and apprehension. Employees are expected to manage these feelings and in many companies they have the benefit of employee assistance programs to help them. 
We understand that when one’s life is threatened, it initiates the fight or flight response. Another name for the fight or flight response is the stress response. The stress response is the instantaneous, coordinated mind/body response that prepares an individual to run away or to fight for one’s life. An imminent attack by a black bear or a neighborhood dog will initiate this response. A raccoon ambling through bushes will also initiate the stress response as will a loud, unexpected noise. We acknowledge that one may perceive and respond to these events as threats.

The stress response is also initiated when one perceives a threat to cognitive function, self-worth or ability to control one’s environment. A perception is how one interprets information or events. Being called into a supervisor’s office could be perceived as a threat to one’s livelihood which initiates the stress response. Being avoided by co-workers or colleagues may be perceived as a threat to one’s self esteem. This would also initiate the stress response. Other variables, such as lifestyle, work/home stressors and personal characteristics may distort one’s perception and compound the response. 
The picture illustrates an employee who has clearly reached the proverbial limit. It is difficult to gauge the degree to which perception and lifestyle variables play in staff encounters. Investment in training and resources for stress management awareness, however, will add value to employees and to the workplace experience. 
Tell me about some of your work stressors. Please share your comments below or on the M.L. Bailey Consultants, Inc. Facebook page. Take good Care!

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