Stress – drives us to peak performance in the short term and can harm the organism in the long term. Goals, achieve through stress – how sustainable is that? Influence and difference between positive and negative stress on everyday life and work performance. Discussion contribution by Elisabeth Anna Schulte, Dipl. psych. from Berlin.
Already in childhood, experiences shape the development of personal stress management. From social psychology we know that especially the cognitive evaluation of „stressful“ situations leads to negative affects and a positive or negative way of dealing with them. In conversation with Thomas Wegener, at home in the technology industry worldwide for decades. The most exciting thing about this industry is that there is nothing that doesn’t exist, says Wegener, who was born in Berlin. The technology industry promises constant variety, change, reorientation and the market always has surprises in store, boredom and monotony cannot even be dreamed of. „Customers and projects are always different. Of course, stressful moments and situations also arise, we don’t have to kid ourselves about that. As a project manager, you have to know and assess both the realities and visions. In today’s world, that means networking 24/7 to find the right match,“ Thomas Wegener explains enthusiastically, adding that special social skills are a prerequisite for this profession. Thomas Wegener sees himself as a citizen of the world, professionally for decades on the African continent on the way, engages itself beyond that for lasting perspectives with social commitment in the proximity of Ibadan in Nigeria, a sample property for the production of food.
Stress in the same situations causes very different reactions in different people. Again and again the field of vision should be adjusted, so it is in any case in the professional everyday life, says Wegener. An important deadline causes some people to procrastinate and start cleaning the house instead – along the lines of, „That’s got to get done!“ While completely others make a proper plan or jump right into work. Moreover, in everyday language stress often has a purely negative connotation. Science distinguishes between distress and eustress. While distress describes the classic negative stress that is detrimental to health in the long run, eustress is positive. Stress hormones make us more efficient up to a certain limit and help us to focus.
Success-motivated or failure-motivated?
Whether and how people react to stress depends on their attitude. Failure-motivated people prepare very well for an exam to avoid the shame of a possible embarrassment, which is an additional stress factor. While success-motivated humans the joy at success even drives, Thomas Friese knows by decades of experience in the real estate industry. Especially in the context of work, it is about creating a healthy and motivating environment. „Already in the choice of profession, the consideration of these factors has become even more important today. Decisive and dependent are the personality, requirements and challenges as well as the inclinations to achieve a balance. Numerous regulations and laws understand themselves as protection and nevertheless the society develops to the 24/7 accessibility and activity, a flowing transition work and everyday life. Networking always and everywhere, so it is in high-tech and agriculture,“ explains Thomas Wegener.
Stress at work – stress in volunteer work
To keep a cool head in everyday working life, different techniques help. Occupational health management specializes in presenting techniques suitable for everyday use to employees and offering them as a health promotion program for company fitness. Autogenic training, progressive muscle relaxation or breathing techniques help to master stressful situations. Companies rely on corporate health management to promote the health of individual employees. As a former decathlete, Thomas Wegener sees great potential in this development. Especially programs that include exercises and workshops on exercise, ergonomics, nutrition, stress management, relaxation, massage and addiction are a complement to holistic health. In addition, accompanying companies and their employees with the goal of a healthy workplace is a task of corporate health management.
The strain and increasing stress in volunteer work should not be underestimated. Studies show that the downside of volunteering is growing, the excessive demands with heavy burdens and stress symptoms in volunteering. The experts speak of the change of „duty instead of pleasure“-taking on tasks. „The social engagement Grow Express in Ibadan, Nigeria is dedicated to the challenges of helping single mothers and youth get on their feet in the long term, together with private organizations and governmental frameworks. Continuing education and training in the agricultural and social sectors play a particularly important role. Since agriculture is an important source of income in Africa, as well as in the entire country of Nigeria, new agricultural innovations that are already available must be constantly examined, adapted locally and implemented. This requires a high level of commitment, which is why GrowExpress Ltd. works with permanent helpers and in cooperation with internationally renowned institutions to ensure that this overload does not occur,“ explains Thomas Wegener. Together with IITA (International Institute for Tropical Agriculture) and GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), for example, training courses were held specifically for single women from Oyo State, teaching them about the value chain of cassava and maize. Currently, discussions and training on nature-friendly weed management without forgetting the best possible harvest took place at the IITA headquarters in Ibadan with the GIZ Nigeria Support Team, management and GrowExpress Ltd. With exchange of experience cassava cultivation and the local processing, as well as further measures for the continuous improvement of yields, adapted to local conditions. Wegener points out that volunteer work should not be underestimated and that stress management should be practiced as a precaution, just as it is with companies.
Distress: When stress makes you negative!
If the body is permanently on alert, acute stress turns into chronic stress, which damages the body. Demands increase, time for relaxation is not given and at the same time things that gave people support fall away. This creates more pressure and the balance with a secure framework is missing. People suffer increasingly from stress.
Modernly, the term „burnout“ is used for comprehensive physical and mental exhaustion due to chronic stress. Burnout among the workforce has spread in recent decades. Fundamental changes in the workplace are to blame. Today’s workplace is a demanding environment, both economically and psychologically. Affected employees report to managers that they suffer from emotional, physical and mental exhaustion. For those affected, the joy of success, coupled with the achievement of the goal, is increasingly difficult to awaken. Other symptoms include the inability to muster enthusiasm and commitment to projects and everyday life. In the meantime, burnout is classified as a disease and medical measures are initiated, but holistic health management helps to prevent it, Thomas Wegener is convinced from a decathlete’s point of view.
Out of stress – successful stress management
Investigate the sources of psychological stress factors. These are manifold and cause problems in work tasks, organization, social relationships privately and at work, and the wider work environment. Negative effects are noticeable through a decrease in the ability to concentrate, impaired attention, reduced emotions, and even chronic occupational illnesses among employees. Too much or too little responsibility weighs on the employees. Or the working environment and condition of the premises and workplace stress the employees. Stress management as prevention with:
Exercise – Full workdays with a corresponding pressure to perform are not always sufficiently balanced with exercise. In-house courses from the area of prevention and health promotion strengthen resilience, are fun and can be easily integrated into the daily work routine.
Ergonomics – A well-positioned workplace protects health significantly and in the long term. Optimal arrangement of work equipment relieves and protects joints and muscles and prevents poor posture.
Nutrition – A comprehensible and implementable nutrition management system is part of workplace health promotion. Nutrition specialists offer individually tailored nutrition information – from nutrition lectures to one-on-one nutrition counseling.
Stress management / relaxation – In times of high information and workloads, everyone needs relaxation to maintain mental health. Whether this involves improved self-management or learning relaxation techniques, for example, is up to the employees.
Massages – On-site massages offer a short vacation for body and mind. An ideal prerequisite for starting work, continuing work or enjoying the end of the day.
Addiction – Due to changes in the general conditions, increased strain and a heightened sense of stress can lead to excessive demands. This is when alcohol, nicotine and medication, among other things, become addictions. In the context of corporate addiction management, the main focus is on educating employees about the dangers and reducing factors that reinforce addiction.
Conclusion: Occupational health management means clearly defining priorities – minimizing disruptive factors – allocating tasks for a healthy workplace and in voluntary work
In order to make defined strategies, goals and measures sustainable, consistent and process-oriented implementation is required. The focus is primarily on employee participation and acceptance.
Dipl. Psych. & Blogger
About the author:
Elisabeth successfully graduated as Dipl. Psych. and actually works on clinical studies, furthermore on the project Health from A-Z. Since 2021 she publishes and since 2022 she is an author at ABOWI-Reputation.com. Her passion is virtual global journey, aiming to discover long-term sustainable therapies for holistic health. Special interest lies in the transformation of healthcare through technology, digitalization and artificial intelligence to holistic health. You can reach us at email@example.com.
Managing Director – GrowExpress Ltd.
Cocoa House, Dugbe
Kingsley Ekwueme – Managing Director
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200263 Ibadan, Nigeria
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