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"Notes" #43

Workplace Stress
  The greatest predictor of workplace stress is
    the relationship one has with one's immediate supervisor.

Just as a bad boss can make people sick, working for a good boss can greatly increase work satisfaction. A number of studies have looked at the issue of "stress proofing" workers to enable them not only to survive, but to thrive in stressful work environments. One classic effort in this area is the work of Kobasa, Hilker, and Maddi of the University of Chicago. In a two-year study of 259 business executives, they found that for most of the subjects, the usual correlation between high levels of stress and increased frequency and severity of illness held true.

For a small proportion, though, more stress did not translate into poor health or poor performance; some of the executives actually seemed to thrive on stress. The researchers identified a set of three mental characteristics that accounted for this group's "psychological hardiness": a sense of control over the events in their lives; a feeling that change presents a new challenge; and a deep underlying commitment to what they are doing. If employees can acquire these characteristics, it has been suggested, they will be able to thrive under pressure that normally would cause illness, disability, or death.


      When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt. Henry J. Kaiser
      Illness is the result of the combination of stress and a vulnerable individual. 


Trying to make everyone around you happy all the time is a sure fire way to raise your own stress level and make you miserable. Recognize that we are responsible for our own feelings-good or bad--and accept the fact that some people won't be happy no matter how hard you try or what you do to try to please them. You'll have less stress and reduce your chances of burnout if you give up being a "martyr" or "rescuer."

         To be burned out, you have to have been lit. 
Barbara Coloroso

         Burnout is a motivational problem caused by feelings of helplessness.

People who believe they can't increase their job satisfaction regardless of how they perform, burn out" Beverly Potter, "Losing The Fire"

"When individuals specify and set realistic goals, and then look at what has actually been accomplished, they can see there is change and they feel they are successful. Then chances for burnout are reduced.  Jack Martin


From the book of Barb

Sometimes it is extremely good for you to forget that there is anything in the world that needs to be done and to do something particular that you want to do. Every human being needs a certain amount of time in which (s)he can be peaceful. These may take the form of exercise or reading or any other congenial occupation; but the one thing which must not be connected with it is a sense of obligation to do some particular thing at some particular time. I had 200 letters waiting a few days ago and any amount of work which had to be done, and I deliberately spent two hours reading poetry. Eleanor Roosevelt


                                Life Has Its Stressful Moments"

This is a letter a young girl wrote at the end of the first semester after her parents had packed her and all her paraphernalia, had taken her to campus, gotten her a room, set her in and worried about the fact that this was her first time away from home. Then, as parents do, went back with faith and trepidation and waited for the letters to come. Kids, as always, are kids, and after a while they got a letter and this was what it said:
           "Dear Mother and Dad:

It has been three months since I left for college, I am very sorry for my thoughtlessness in not having written before. You are not to read any further until you are sitting down, okay? Well then. I am getting along pretty well now. The skull fracture and the concussion I got when I jumped out of my dormitory window when it caught fire shortly after my arrival are pretty well healed now. I only spent two weeks in the hospital, and now I can see normally. I get those sick headaches only once a day. Fortunately, the fire in the dormitory and my jump were witnessed by a gas station attendant near the dorm. He also visited me at the hospital and since I had nowhere to live because of the burned out dorm, he was kind enough to invite me to share his apartment. It's really a sub-cellar but it's kind of cute. He's a very fine boy and we have fallen deeply in love and are planning on getting married. We haven't set the exact date yet, but will before my pregnancy begins to show. Yes, Mother and Dad, I am pregnant. I know how much you are looking forward to being grand- parents and I know you will welcome the baby and give it the same love and devotion and tender care you gave me when I was a child. The reason for the delay in our marriage is that my boyfriend has some minor infection which prevents us from passing our pre-marital blood test. I carelessly caught it from him. This will soon clear up with the penicillin injections, which I am taking daily.

Well, now that I have brought you up to date, I want to tell you that there was no dormitory fire. I did not have a concussion or a skull fracture. I was not in hospital. I am not pregnant. I am not engaged and I have no infections. However, I am getting a D in History and an F in Science and I wanted you to see these in their proper perspective."

Never, never underestimate the importance of a good sense of humour and never, never underestimate the importance of keeping things in their proper perspective.