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Tips on stress management

Stress management is one of the key components to having a healthy and effective workforce. That is according to Paul Loftus, a Montreal-based industrial/organisational psychologist, who will be giving a seminar on the very topic at the Bermuda Insurance Institute (BII) on January 14.

Mr. Loftus said stress management has become even more relevant in the current economic crisis, with employees increasingly feeling the pressure in the midst of job and financial cutbacks. "Whatever they call it: downsizing, right-sizing, restructuring, re-engineering, retrenchment, strategic alignment or some other corporate gobbledegook, it has the same effect," he said.

"You have more work to do with less resources; physical, financial and human. You may have more responsibility than authority, there may be a personality conflict, you may be reporting to a workaholic or there may be a misfit between you and your job. You may be experiencing either a fear of failure or a fear of rejection."

He said the three main ways to combat stress were exercise, rest and diet, with the former a good outlet to release pressure and the latter two for recharging batteries and maintaining your body respectively.

In Bermuda, he said, that could include going for a walk on the beach, while setting up focus groups to tackle the issue, opening up communication lines to discuss it and having gyms to work out and childcare facilities to ease the burden of looking after your children, on site, all helped to mitigate stress levels.

"If you do not resolve your stress issues you could have serious health problems such as eating disorders, problem drinking or drug addiction," he warned.

"Stress affects us physically and psychologically and could lead to psychosomatic illnesses."

Mr. Loftus, who has been holding seminars in Bermuda for more than 20 years and carried out courses in 25 countries, said stress can be defined as the inability of the body to cope with physical and psychological demands, resulting in fatigue, aching muscles, migraine headaches, hypertension, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, high blood pressure and depression, with more serious effects including prolonged stress are ulcer, stroke, heart attack and even death.

He said the impact of stress on an organisation could range from lower morale, decreased performance, mistakes in judgment, general inefficiency and job dissatisfaction to increased tardiness, absenteeism and turnover.

"In this seminar you will be able to identify your personal stressors and discover numerous solutions to ease the degree of stress you are experiencing," he said.

"You'll come away with practical techniques you'll be able to implement right away. These include improving your social support system at work, humour, stress reduction goal exercise, etc."

For more information, contact the BII at 295-1596 or visit the website at www.bii.bm