Academic journal article International Journal of Management

Strategies for Reducing Stress among Managers: An Integrated Physical and Spiritual Approach

Academic journal article International Journal of Management

Strategies for Reducing Stress among Managers: An Integrated Physical and Spiritual Approach

Article excerpt

In the workplace of today is characterized by large amounts of stress on the part of employees. It is argued that much of this is due to rapid changes in the business world that have led to many economic, social, political, and family problems. Stress can result in poor work quality, poor productivity, morale problems, health problems, employee absenteeism and turnover and accidents, each of which can cost organizations a lot of money. This paper presents an integrated approach to dealing with employee stress, namely physical and spiritual therapy that in many respects is an outgrowth of the way Eastern philosophies deal with the problems. Physical therapy is a technique for reducing stress through a programme of controlled activity and exercise. Spiritual therapy is about teaching the ability to deal with stress through meditation and reflection on religious teachings. Implications of this integrated approach for reducing stress among both western and eastern managers are discussed.

Introduction

Stress is the body's nonspecific reaction to any demand made on it. It affects people in different ways and is therefore a highly individual condition. Certain events may be quite stressful to one person but not to another. The affect of stress is not always negative. Some mild stress actually improves productivity and can be helpful in developing creative ideas. But if every one lives under a certain amount of stress and that stress is severe and it persists long enough, it can be harmful. Such stress can be as disruptive to an individual as any accident. Ass reviews of the literature have shown, it can result in poor attendance, excessive use of alcohol or other drugs, poor job performance, or even overall poor health (Mondy, Noe & Premeaux, 2002).It is generally agreed that the nature of work and organizations at the present time tend to create a stressful environment. We argue in this paper that a good starting point in trying to reduce or at least reduce stress at work is with the managers or leaders in the organization. In analyzing what they should do, it is useful initially at least to list the established traits of en effective leader. In this regards, according to their review of the literature, Nakai and Schultz (2003) concluded that a good leader is visionary, courageous, leads, or even follows where necessary, is results oriented, has perspective, is strategic, and respects his or her people. In addition, leaders must learn to deal with stress, scare, worry and anxiety that disturb and destroy the 'calmness' and 'peace' of mind. It has been argued that if leaders are free from stress, they will be in their centered state and higher state of mind, as a result of which they can precisely see things as what they are, and can make the accurate and right decisions (Kausen, 2003)

It is the argument of this paper that there are valuable insights for managing stress obtainable in Eastern philosophies such as Buddhism. The Buddhist system of philosophy was developed out of the teachings of the Gottama Buddha (543 BC). The Buddha advocated four noble truths to overcome the miseries of human life, such a as prolonged job satisfaction, after his 'enlightenment' through long-time study and meditation. The four noble truths are: (a) the fact that there is misery, (b) there is a cause for misery, (c) there is cessation or removal of misery, and (d) there is path leading to cessation of misery. The aim of education is to lead the person attain the state of cessation of misery or eternal happiness and peace. The path that leads to cessation of misery is called the eight-fold path. It consists of eight steps namely: (a) right understanding, (b) right thought, (c) right speech, (d) right conduct, (e) right livelihood, (f) right endeavor, (g) right mindfulness, and (h) right concentration (Payutto, 2003). Davis, Eshelman and McKay (1995) mentioned that one of the areas that most people can benefit from learning is how to handle and manage stress. …

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