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resources - STRESSED

Critical Incident Stress
Coping through crisis
Good Directions to be your best
Dealing with holiday stress
After the Storm
Helping children grieve
Job Loss Stress
Understanding Grief

Stress can have serious consequences for individuals and their coworkers resulting in tension between workers, lower productivity, and occasional outbursts of anger or other unacceptable behaviors.


Random interruptions
Pervasive uncertainty (Job security)
Mistrust & unfairness
Unclear policies, no sense of direction

Job ambiguity
No feedback
No appreciation
Lack of communications
Lack of control (poor management style)


Stress overload can lead to a condition known as burnout; a condition brought about by a variety of unfavorable conditions with which a person’s normal defenses can no longer cope. Things that contribute to burnout may be

• The anticipation of unavoidable conflict with another person or persons
• The need to maintain unemotional professionalism while performing your duties
• Beginning to see more negative situations than positive outcomes regardless of your best efforts
• Conflict among coworkers in the workplace
• Tension caused by anticipated danger or continual uncertainty regarding personal safety



• Questioning whether you are making a positive impact
• Stereotyping people
• Frustration with lack of change
• Lack of compassion
• Changes in personal values
• Dramatic lifestyle changes
• Chronic fatigue
• Lax or apathetic performance
• Adjusting quality of service according to who is being served


• Increased number of client complaints
• Increased number of disciplinary actions
• Incessant negative attitude toward the public
• Self medication (e.g., substance abuse, compulsive buying, gambling, etc. to feel better)
• Carousing / affairs
• Fox hole” mentality (e.g. everyone is my enemy)


(or when you know you need help)


• Recollections of a traumatic or stressful event
• Dreams of the event
• Sudden re-experiencing of the event (e.g., cognitive intrusions during the day)
• Distress reminders of the event (e.g., physical and/or emotional reactions to memories)


• Efforts to avoid thoughts and / or feelings (can be disruptive to normal thoughts and feelings)
• Efforts to avoid activities and / or situations which remind one of the stressful experience
• Psychogenic amnesia (e.g., temporary amnesia resulting from extreme trauma)
• Diminished interest in significant activities (possible sign of depression)
• Detachment / estrangement from others (possible sign of depression)
• Diminished affect (e.g., inability to do one’s work, suppressed coping mechanisms, etc.)
• Sense of foreshortened future (e.g., when will I have a heart attack; am I about to die? etc.)


• Difficulty falling or staying asleep
• Irritability or outbursts of anger
• Difficulty concentrating
• Hyper-vigilance for one’s self (could include symptoms of paranoia)
• Exaggerated startle responses
• Physiologic reactivity to cues (e.g., stomach ache, headache, etc.)


The stress a caregiver / helper experiences when …
• Giving aid to an injured or traumatized person after a traumatic event
• Trying to intervene in a traumatic event or stressful encounter between other persons
• Hearing an account of the event as told by the victim
• Hearing a graphic account of the event as told by a responder


Myths vs. Facts about stress

Myth: Stress symptoms are psychosomatic (all in your head).
Fact: Stress symptoms are real symptoms.
Myth: Everyone suffers from stress the same way.
Fact: People react to stress in different ways.
Myth: I’ll always know if I’m under extreme stress.
Fact: Extreme stress (hypertension) is a slow and silent killer.
Myth: Only weak people suffer from stress.
Fact: It doesn’t matter how strong you are, stress will
affect you in some way.
Myth: What causes stress in one person will cause stress in everyone.
Fact: Each individual experiences and deals with stress and stressful events in their own way.

Warning, Will Robinson! (from Lost in Space)


• You can’t always identify stress (hypertension).
• Stress gives a false sense of invincibility.
• Overstimulation can escalate the effects of stress (e.g., caffeine, sugar, stimulants).
• Stress is addictive and can result in emotional, psychological, or physical distress and long term negative interpersonal consequences.
• Prolonged stress can result in physical problems. If you have concerns, please consult your physician.



According to Dr. Raymond B. Flannery, Jr.,* we can increase our resistance to stress by attending to three basic areas of our life; Reasonable Mastery, Caring Attachments, and Purposeful Meaning.

Reasonable Mastery is our ability to function well at work, at home, and in society. Weak mastery skills result in stress. By improving our work, family relationship, and social skills we become more resistant to stress and more capable of dealing with life’s stressful situations.

Caring Attachments refers to our relationships with others; those who care about us, who depend on us, and who we can depend on. Weak caring attachments at work, home, or in society create stress while strong attachments create a resistance to stress simply because we have significant people in our life who care about us. Caring attachments can be strengthened by building on our existing friendships and expanding our friend base by making new friends.

Meaningful purpose is our sense of knowing that we are an important part of the whole picture (e.g., one who is needed, appreciated, and valued). Stress results from not having this important element in our life. Stress resistance can be built by knowing why our job is important to the whole project. Stress resistance is also built through volunteering for a meaningful cause, which gives us a sense of worth.



Accept the help of mental health professionals
Associate with new friends
Attend defusing or debriefing sessions as needed
Avoid depressants, caffeine, and sugar
Be aware of the manifestations of burnout
Control your emotional response
Don’t take your job home with you
Enjoy a hobby or other diversion
Exercise regularly and rest regularly

Get outdoors for a break / breather

 Look for the positive in situations
Maintain a degree of emotional separation
Maintain a healthy diet
Meet regularly with peers for peer support
Review and/or rearrange your priorities
Schedule personal quiet times
Seek to find the positive in every situation
Talk it out with someone you trust
Time off, time away, extended vacation
When appropriate, use humor

A FINAL NOTE: Stress Management is not a luxury. It is a necessity. Behind all our uniforms, suits and ties, and public image, we are all just human beings. Our emotional and physical well being is more important than our pride in trying to tough it out alone.

* Flannery, Raymond B., Jr., 2003 – Becoming Stress-Resistant Through the Project SMART Program. Chevron Publishing Corporation – ISBN: 1-883581-37-0.




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