Stress reduction

1. In today’s smaller Air Force, members are finding themselves doing more with less. This in-turn has caused numerous stressful situations on and off duty. It is incumbent for Air Force members to recognize, treat, and eliminate stress whenever practical to increase morale and mission accomplishment. This paper will cover the emotional, behavioral, and physical signs of stress as well as importance of job stress management in treating and/or eliminating stress. 2. Before we can begin to reduce stress, we must be able to recognize indicators that lead to or help identify stress. Air Force psychologist Capt. Neil S. Hibler has developed a list of early warning signs (2:19). For our purposes we will discuss only a couple from each category. First, from the emotional category, is apathy. Apathy is the doldrums. Things you normally enjoy are no longer pleasurable. Along with apathy is mental fatigue. Being unable to concentrate or staying focus are only a couple of examples of mental fatigue. Emotional signs are very important to recognize, because if they are not noticed early on and addressed, behavioral or even physical problems can surface.

The behavioral category signs include: being late to work, poor appearance, and being accident prone are just a few examples of administrative problems. Legal problems are even more evident, such as, traffic tickets, indebtedness, and inability to control violent impulses. As you can see, these signs of stress become more serious the longer TSgt Adams/H-Flt/0805/pfa/19 Jul 97 they go untreated or reduced. Finally, is the physical category; possibly the most serious of all. Stress not only effects the psyche of an individual, but the physical side of ones’ being can also be altered. Ailments such as: headaches, insomnia, nausea, changes in appetite, and sexual problems can persist during times of stress. The individual may seek relief from stress by self-medicating and develop a dependence on chemicals that are harmful to the body. These signs are just a few of the more recognizable. Other signs can be very subtle and even more dangerous to the individual and others. This is why it is paramount to detect stress early and if possible treat, reduce, or eliminate before damage is done.

3. Once signs of stress are identified, it is time to tackle them with a few job stress management techniques outlined in “The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Handbook” (2:211). A 1985 study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics found that more than 50% of workers surveyed experienced moderate to heavy stress on the job. To effectively combat work-related stress, you first need to identify symptoms and sources of job related stress. This can be accomplished by taking and scoring the survey in the handbook. Next, you need to keep a log on how you respond to your specific job stressors. Label four columns: stressor, feelings, thoughts, and behavior. After you have completed these task, setting goals and motivation is next. Set goals to respond more effectively to your job stressors. Develop a plan to react to stress you can anticipate or even avoid altogether. The idea here is to gain more control of your work environment. Rewards are a very important part of motivation.

Create a specific reward for every goal you establish and make sure to give yourself the time to enjoy your reward. The next 2 area to consider is more difficult for most of us. Dealing with your boss, negotiating with co- workers, and changing your thinking can be used to your advantage to help reduce stress. Don’t side step these ideas, use them! The last two strategies to consider in job stress management are; pace and balance yourself, and know when to quit. Pace at your own tempo. Don’t burn yourself out. This is one of the leading causes of stress at work. To effectively integrate job stress management into your daily lifestyle could take months, in just a day you can identify your job stressors and your responses to them. Getting started is the key!

4. We have discussed identifying stress by looking for: emotional, behavioral, and physical signs of stress. Then, more importantly, we discussed ways to: treat, reduce, or eliminate stress by applying techniques used in job stress management. Job stress accounts for billions of dollars lost annually in productivity, wages, and medical bills. Americans now know that job stress management makes personal and financial sense.


1. Davis, Martha, Ph.D., Eshelman, Elizabeth R., M.S.W., McKay, Matthew, Ph.D. The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook, 4th Edition. Oakland CA: New Harbinger Publications Inc, 1995. 2. Eliot, Robert S. and Breo, Dennis L. IS IT WORTH DYING FOR? NY: Bantam Books Inc, May 1984.