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Stress Pandemic 18: The Three Levels Of Stress


Issue 618

Have you ever forgotten where you left your car? You can find yourself searching on the wrong level trying to reconnect with your own means of transport.

There are different levels to stress management. Searching for your solutions on the wrong level can lead to the same frustration you experience looking for your car.
There are, in fact, three levels of stress operation and they require different levels of what stress specialists call interventions.

Level one stress has to do with the system in which you operate. Examples of this could be a long hours working culture or unrealistic targets set by management. Somehow your workload has become unsustainable and the results required are impossible to deliver. Related to this could be understaffing. There are simply not enough people to handle the tasks that are required.

The second level of stress has to do with the way you are reacting to pressure. Somehow you have developed habits of getting frustrated too quickly or not managing your own workload or time.

The third level of stress has to do with your health. For whatever reason, you are close to a breaking point and finding it difficult to function at all. This level may be of as a result of the other two or a whole host of factors in your work and life.

Each one of these levels require different interventions. I will start with level two. A level two intervention involves training, coaching, advice and maybe short-term counseling in order to diagnose the stress condition and help with a host of thinking, insight and behavioural techniques which will, for sure, increase your capacity to cope. Many of the editions in this series are, in this sense, aimed at level two.

If, however, the problem is level one (systemic) then the intervention needs also to be systemic. I’ve lost count of how many times I have been asked to help with stress-management (level two) when the underlying problem is systemic. In a way the issue is not stress-management but management.

Although training and coaching is valuable and always helpful, if the problem is too few staff then more staff will need to be hired. If the problem is too much workload then workloads need to be adjusted. If some staff are struggling because they work too many hours, stress management could involve the phrase “please go home”.

I heard of a senior manager who always told his staff to leave when he did. If they said they could not, he recognized the workload was unrealistic and he hired more staff.

I can hear you say, “that that’s not how it works in the real world”. Then you may need to ask if your so-called “real world” is destroying you. It is not unreasonable to think about seeking a new job which has a more realistic reality.

Level three stress requires great care. Coaching, counseling, advice may or may not reach you. If you’ve been there, you know. In such times your doctor may sign you off for a rest or prescribe some medication. Your need may be for a retreat, a talk with close friends, or other such treatment. Your doctor or your pastor may be your way to find your means of travel and reconnect with your soul’s ability to journey.

When Jesus of Nazareth was on the cross, he was dealing with a global system that is dysfunctional. He came to destroy death in all its forms. It’s a level one intervention.

At the same time if you listen to the phrases, he spoke during those six hours you will find counsel, insight and resources for your life (level two). Also, from the cross you can perceive the reality of the ancient words “by his stripes we are healed”. It’s a mysterious spiritual flow that floods your soul and it is level three healing.

There are connections between these levels as there are in the structure where you left your car. Either via others or direct, Jesus is, and remains the Way.

Work well today,

Geoff Shattock

© Geoff Shattock  June 2019


Isaiah 53: 4-5
4Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.5 But he was pierced for our transgressions he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his stripes we are healed.

1 John 3:8
8 The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

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Series: Stress Pandemic
Module: 1
Daily Guide: No


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Work well
Geoff Shattock

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