By Barbara Bird
Originally posted in her GroomWise.com Blog, from her Atlanta presentation in 2008, and now archived here in Resources. Barbara's web site is www.bbird.biz
. Please visit her site today.
Copyright 2011 Barbara Bird All rights reserved
How does stress show up for you? It is important to be able to identify your own signs of stress. What signals do you get at work that tell indicate that you are in a stress mode? Here are some symptoms of stress that have been identified by mental health professionals.
HOW STRESS SHOWS UP - SIGNS OF STRESS
Cognitive Signs: Memory problems, indecisiveness, Inability to concentrate, trouble thinking clearly, poor judgment, seeing only the negative, anxious or racing thoughts, constant worrying, loss of objectivity, fearful anticipation.
Emotional Symptoms: Moodiness, agitation, restlessness, short temper, irritability, impatience, inability to relax, feeling overwhelmed, sense of loneliness or isolation, depression or unhappiness.
Physical Symptoms: Headaches or backaches, muscle tension and stiffness, diarrhea or constipation, nausea, dizziness, insomnia, chest pain or rapid heartbeat, weight gain or loss, skin breakouts, loss of sex drive, frequent colds.
Behavioral Symptoms: Eating more or less, sleeping too much or too little, isolating yourself from others, procrastination, neglecting responsibilities, using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax, nervous habits (e.g., nail biting), teeth grinding or jaw clenching, overdoing activities, exercising, shopping, hobbies), overreacting to unexpected problems, picking fights with others.
The pressures and demands that cause stress are known as stressors. One person’s stressors may not be all that bad for another. What is stressful depends on many factors, including personality, general outlook on life, problem-solving ability, and available support systems. What are the stressors in your work situation? Identifying your stressors and your signs of stress are key elements in stress management. Stress management is critical to career longevity as a pet groomer.
External Stressors – Pet groomers share some common causes of stress. Difficult pets, clients with unrealistic expectations, being overbooked, all can push a groomer to the edge. A disorganized workplace, poorly performing equipment, unreasonable employers, coworkers who don’t pull their share of the load or who themselves are acting out their stress, are factors which can create stress.
Internal Causes of Stress –Not all stress is caused by external pressures and demands. Your stress can also be self-generated. Internal causes of stress include: Uncertainty or worries, pessimistic attitude, self-criticism, unrealistic expectations or beliefs, perfectionism, low self-esteem, unexpressed anger, lack of assertiveness.
Effects of chronic stress – The human being is designed to withstand short bursts of acute stress. Prolonged stress or “chronic stress” that doesn’t let up can challenge even a well-adjusted person’s ability to adapt. When sustained or severe stress overwhelms our coping resources, serious mental and physical health problems can result.
Emotional effects - Chronic stress grinds away at your mental health, causing emotional damage in addition to physical ailments. Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to everyday pressures and less able to cope. Over time, stress can lead to mental health problems such as: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and substance abuse. Health effects - Recent research suggests that anywhere from 60 to 90 percent of illness is stress-related. The physical wear and tear of stress includes damage to the cardiovascular system and immune system suppression. Stress compromises your ability to fight off disease and infection, throws your digestive system off balance, makes it difficult to conceive a baby, and can even stunt growth in children. Hypothyroidism, adrenal problems, chronic fatigue and other hormonal imbalances are common to pet groomers and are related to chronic stress. It can also result in high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Chronic stress is not something that should be accepted as “part of the job”, and should be dealt with or avoided.
TIPS FOR STRESS MANAGEMENT
- Don’t be a passive victim of your stressors.
- Practice Deep Breathing – Stop for a minute and take several deep, full breaths. Deep breathing can actually reduce the physical impact of stress.
- Aromatherapy works – The Scented Groomer, available through Show Season, has several essential oil products blended especially to help control the effects of stress.
- The Five Minute Vacation – When you have time, spend a few minutes imagining in detail a vacation retreat spot. Visualize the surroundings, whether it be mountain or beach, and find the sights, sounds and smells that might be there. When you notice yourself losing to your stress response, you can visit your vacation spot for five minutes and get some relief. Don’t just hide out in the bathroom, take a vacation!
- Don’t Be a Lone Ranger – Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. Get a groomer buddy and join a support group.
- Music therapy (note: it only works if YOU like the music)
- Take a Spiritual Bath –Did a difficult customer or a coworker give you grief? “Wash away” your stress by an imaginary cleansing of your aura, and swoosh off the negative energy into a sink basin or your tub. If this is too far out for you, just splashing the face with cool water can help.
- Manage Your Mind – Work on your internal stressors to minimize their impact. Create positive thoughts to substitute for negative or pessimistic “tapes” that run you; practice self-praise to replace self-criticism; control perfectionism; honor yourself; practice being assertive with clients.
- Attend Trade Shows & Seminars – Take home equipment, tools, techniques or ideas that will make a positive impact on the stress you experience at work. Have a plan on how you will implement change. Remember that change, even positive, can be stressful. How can you engage others around you to deal with the stress that your change might involve?
Actively planning for stress and its management makes the effects of your stressors less powerful.
By BBird, as presented at Atlanta Pet Fair 2008, all copyrights apply.
references: Ellen Jaffe–Gill, Melinda Smith, M.A., Heather Larson, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. Understanding Stress: Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Effects, www.helpguide.org