STAGES OF STRESS

  • The human body resembles a metal spring, with a certain tolerance for stress. It can be strained beyond the limits of normal function and then return to its original state or shape. Pressure causes people to react in different ways depending on the source and the timing of the event. “Dr. Jere E. Yates points out that there are actually three different stages, or points that humans can experience with stress.”(Drafke, 2009) The three stages are yield point, elastic limit, and the rupture point with each representing progressively increased levels of stress on the human body.
  • The yield point is the first stage that reveals itself as a slight change from normal behavior from time to time. Most people rebound from this stage as long as the causative factors associated with the stress subside. Someone bringing the problems from home to work is a classic example. Managers may notice a change in their tolerance for meeting a deadline for instance, which normally would not register anything out of the ordinary. There are ways to counter or bring the individual back to a normal state by communicating, going for a walk, or sharing leisure activities. Hopefully, these intervention measures can prevent the employee from moving to the elastic point.
  •        The elastic limit is an extremely critical point Yates describes as an early-warning device that tells us when we are near our stress threshold. People may function reasonably well between the yield point elastic limit and can function for a while at the elastic limit. If pressed beyond this limit, they will not rebound easily causing undue stress around the workplace and bringing the organization into chaos. Managers must recognize the early warning signs in each individual and the triggers that may lead to progression to the final stage – rupture point.
  •        “Once an individual goes beyond the elastic limit, they may reach their rupture point, which can cause some severe and permanent mental and physical damage if they don’t manage the stress properly.” (Drafke, 2009) A nervous breakdown is a serious condition which renders an individual incapable of self-recovery in most instances. The body may exhibit physical symptoms of illness normally caused by some outside agent such as a germ or traumatic injury. This stage of stress is well beyond the training and scope of anyone within the organization, unless of course the office is in a healthcare facility. Removal from the workplace is paramount, and hopefully the employee is escorted or assisted to the proper care needed. Everyone handles stress in different ways and there is no one system or intervention that works for two people the same way. Some people handle stress by exercising, others by smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages. Some organizations have instituted wellness programs that encourage physical fitness during the normal working hours to help relieve mental and physical stress before it worsens through the stages.
  •        Dr. Yates identified three stages of stress; yield point, elastic limit, and the rupture point. People move from one stage to the other when they fail to properly recover from the stress or remove themselves from the causative agent (work or home). Supervisors need a good understanding on the stages of stress and how it affects each individual within their organization. No two people react to stressful situations the same and they ways they manage their stress will vary accordingly. Mental stresses may cause physical impairments if left unchecked or untreated. The goal of any productive organization is to foster an environment where stress is not a requirement for employment; and a detriment to success.
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