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Section 8
Factors of Work-Related Stress

Question 8 | Test | Table of Contents

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In the last section, we discussed overcoming the resistance to behavioral changes in order to help workaholic clients balance their lives.  We specifically discussed 5 cognitive blocks that can create resistance to making behavioral changes. These 5 cognitive blocks are, I don’t have the right to change now since I’ve been doing it this way for so long; I should keep my dissatisfaction to myself to avoid conflict; I shouldn’t have to spell out what I need, they should already know; my boss is the one who expects this from me, so he or she should change first; and I can’t compromise when I’m so angry.

In this section... we will discuss factors of stress.  Three factors of stress that we will discuss are workaholic client’s sense of choice, degree of control, and ability to anticipate consequences.  As you listen to this section, consider your male stress client.  How can he use an understanding of three factors of stress to begin to minimize harmful effects of stress? 

3 Factors of Stress

♦ Factor #1 - Sense of Choice
First, let’s discuss one factor of stress, the client’s sense of choice.  If a demand on a male client is chosen, stress feels more like stimulation.  Do you find that many workaholic male clients are actually stimulus junkies?  Male stress clients may choose to over-schedule themselves, and I find that many males work better under pressure. 

However, the key to stimulation instead of stress is that the demand is chosen.  Do you find that when a demand is forced upon your male workaholic client it will generally be experienced as stress instead of stimulation?

♦ Factor #2 - Degree of Control
A second factor of stress is the male client’s degree of control over the situation.  John, age 29, provided a good example of how a client’s degree of control can affect his stress level.  John stated, "My wife was in labor.  It was time to go to the hospital, and my car wouldn’t start!  So we got a cab.  There I am, a passenger in a taxi stuck in midtown traffic with a pregnant wife who’s ready to pop!  There was nothing I could do.  I know that if I’d been driving, I still would have got stuck in traffic, but at least I would have been in control."  As you know, male clients find it difficult enough to give up control willingly.  How much does your client’s stress level increase if a demand at work requires that he give up control unwillingly or ambivalently? 

♦ Factor #3 - Ability to Anticipate Consequences
In addition to sense of choice and degree of control, a third stress factor is a male client’s ability to anticipate consequences.  Would you agree that adaptation and adjustment are most difficult when demands and outcomes are least predictable?  For example, an assembly line operator always knows what’s coming down the line next.  On some days he may figuratively get bored to death.  Conversely, a control tower operator never knows what is coming next.  He may be literally stressed to death.  Think of your workaholic client.  How can he enhance his ability to cope with factors of stress?

♦ Technique: Increasing Tolerance of Discomfort
One way for workaholic clients to cope with factors of stress is a technique for increasing tolerance of discomfort.  I stated to John, "To get what you want you often have to tolerate discomfort.  Acceptance is never having to say, "I can’t stand it."  When you say, "I can’t stand it," you are really saying, "I can’t stand on my own in facing of this feeling."  

You’re giving the feeling power and authority over you.  Practice increasing your tolerance for discomfort.  Think of experiences you feel you can’t stand ("I can’t stand listening to my boss talking about my report.").  Then, when you find yourself in the situation, purposely stay with the experience.  Make yourself stand the thoughts about your boss for five minutes today, then five minutes tomorrow. 

"Every day you will have many opportunities to accept discomfort.  Welcome them as learning opportunities, times to stretch your acceptor and improve your ability to accept discomfort on and off the job.  When you run into hassles at the telephone company or at the bank, make a point of accepting them.  Practice saying yes to uncomfortable experiences, such as being stuck in a traffic jam on your way to an important meeting, or being in a place that is too cold or too warm.  

"Approach difficult situations—make unpleasant business calls, open bills as soon as they come— to avoid resisting them."  Think of your John.  How could workaholic your client benefit from increasing his tolerance regarding discomfort?

In this section... we have discussed factors of stress.  Three factors of stress that we discussed are the male client’s sense of choice, degree of control, and ability to anticipate consequences.

In the next section, we will discuss how the body copes with stress.  Three ways the body copes with stress are through motor nerves, autonomic nerves and through the adrenal gland and hypothalamus.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Lloyd, J., Bond, F. W., & Flaxman, P. E. (2017). Work-related self-efficacy as a moderator of the impact of a worksite stress management training intervention: Intrinsic work motivation as a higher order condition of effect. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 22(1), 115–127.

Vahle-Hinz, T., Bamberg, E., Dettmers, J., Friedrich, N., & Keller, M. (2014). Effects of work stress on work-related rumination, restful sleep, and nocturnal heart rate variability experienced on workdays and weekends. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 19(2), 217–230.

Vahle-Hinz, T. (2016). Stress in nonregular work arrangements: A longitudinal study of task- and employment-related aspects of stress. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 21(4), 415–431. 

What are three factors of stress?
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Section 9
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