Stress is truly the modern plague. Can stress be dealt with effectively in group settings? Over the course of this workshop, you will learn to identify the root causes of stress. You will learn about SCORE (Symptoms, Causes, Objectives, Resources, Effects) and how to implement mechanisms for preventing stress and for coping with it when it arises.
Stress and work-life balance**
The number of stress-related disability claims by American employees has doubled according to the Employee Assistance Professionals Association in Arlington, Virginia. Seventy-five to ninety percent of physician visits are related to stress and, according to the American Institute of Stress, the cost to industry has been estimated at $200 billion-$300 billion a year.
Steven L. Sauter, chief of the Applied Psychology and Ergonomics Branch of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Cincinnati, Ohio, states that recent studies show that "the workplace has become the single greatest source of stress". Michael Feuerstein, professor of clinical psychology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences at Bethesda Naval Hospital states, "We're seeing a greater increase in work-related neuroskeletal disorders from a combination of stress and ergonomic stressors".
It is clear that problems caused by stress have become a major concern to both employers and employees. Symptoms of stress are manifested both physiologically and psychologically. Persistent stress can result in cardiovascular disease, sexual health problems, a weaker immune system and frequent headaches, stiff muscles, or backache. It can also result in poor coping skills, irritability, jumpiness, insecurity, exhaustion, and difficulty concentrating. Stress may also perpetuate or lead to binge eating, smoking, and alcohol consumption.
One example of the effects of work-related stress is exhibited in the life of Barbara Agoglia as recounted in Forbes. Ms. Agoglia was a director in American Express' small business unit. After working more than fifty hours each week, as well as driving a ninety minute commute each day, she was on the brink of burnout. The "breaking point" came when her son started school and she didn't have the time to wait with him at his bus stop. She compared her life to "the hamster-on-the-wheel" and felt that her only option was to quit her job.
Another example is demonstrated by a Harvard University president, Neil Rudenstine, leaving his position for two months in order to have a time of "rest and recovery". According to James Campbell Quick, a professor of organizational behaviour at the University of Texas-Arlington, "The average tenure of presidents at land-grant universities in the past ten years has dropped from approximately seven to three-and-a-half years".
The feeling that simply working hard is not enough anymore is acknowledged by many other American workers. “To get ahead, a seventy-hour work week is the new standard. What little time is left is often divvied up among relationships, kids, and sleep.” This increase in work hours over the past two decades means that less time will be spent with family, friends, and community as well as pursing activities that one enjoys and taking the time to grow personally and spiritually.
Texas Quick, an expert witness at trials of companies who were accused of overworking their employees, states that “when people get worked beyond their capacity, companies pay the price.” Although some employers feel that workers should reduce their own stress by simplifying their lives and making a better effort to care for their health, most experts feel that the chief responsibility for reducing stress should be management.
According to Esther M. Orioli, president of Essi Systems, a stress management consulting firm, “Traditional stress-management programs placed the responsibility of reducing stress on the individual rather than on the organization-where it belongs. No matter how healthy individual employees are when they start out, if they work in a dysfunctional system, they’ll burn out.”