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Handle The Local Stress


You may be stressed but is that stress self-inflicted?
Are your personal standards too high?

In a city where the attitude is ‘work hard, party harder’, it’s not surprising that people are continually under pressure -whether it is to make the next deadline or be at the emirate’s next ‘it’ event. It all seems to boil down to competitiveness. Dubai Chronicle’s Editor, Gergana Mineva, gives the following reasons for the mad race to be stressed: increased competition on all levels – whether it’s at school, work or at home – and the countless options with regards to just about every aspect of life – be it technology, dining out or even shopping. Thirdly, and perhaps the biggest factor, is that there is a constant need to strive for a better quality of life.

Given increased exposure to what everyone else has, is doing and is buying, members of all sectors of society have a basic thirst to improve their quality of life. This competition on professional and sometimes personal level leads to many feeling the need to ‘prove’ that they are more valued, or have a higher social status, than their peers.

Sometimes the need to compare stress levels could stem from wanting to be considered the more prized or indispensable employee. In UAE, the supply of talent outweighs the number of jobs available, which means that many employees accept work for low incomes and remain in unhealthy work environments because of visa sponsorship issues. For many, the sacrifice is worth it when compared to options in their home countries. Often, people also have the added pressure of families to support. Everyone is in transition here, and jobs are directly related to people’s existence in Dubai.

Work-related stress is a fact – and not only in the UAE. Recent research by the United Kingdom Health and Safety Executive (HSE) showed that about five million people in the UK (one in five employees) felt ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ stressed by their work. Half a million believed that work-related stress was at levels that were making them sick. The HSE found that, as a result, in 2003/4,12.8 million working days were lost due to work-related anxiety, stress and depression.

Self-inflicted stress

While work, visa sponsorships and job security are valid stressors, stress is sometimes self-inflicted. In certain areas, when one household acquires a luxury car, the neighbours inevitably feel pressurised to own a similar or better car. Lots of people in Dubai also have developed an inferiority complex – they are always comparing themselves with others. It’s human nature to want what others have and it seems people struggle and struggle to get that car but, once they have it, they see a better one, and are never satisfied with what they have.

Such unnecessary pressure can easily be eliminated if we learn to recognize what we truly want in life and understand what stress really is.  Usually people become stressed when they do things that don’t make them happy.

Stress factors can also include environmental factors like the weather, social causes like work deadlines, psychological reasons such as the death of a loved one, or even one’s own thoughts surrounding a certain situation.

How can you stop being so stressed?

Make sure that stress in your professional life doesn’t spill into your personal life, and vice verse, as this could affect both your job performance and relationships at home.

Studies have shown that stress often leads to compulsive behavior such as gambling, addiction and physical ailments like hypertension.

Coping with stress requires a two-fold approach: self-control – taking responsibility for your reactions to situations and situation control, which includes problem solving, conflict resolution and assertiveness.

The following steps may help to plan the execution of assignments without too much stress:

• Be organized and have a clear goal.
• Eliminate the “things happen when they happen” attitude and create a solid work plan.
• Make sure that your duties are clearly outlined.
• Listen carefully when work is delegated to you.
• Don’t make impulsive decisions.
• Learn to say no if you’re unable to take on more work.
• Don’t interfere with the way other people do their jobs.

Being positive about life – a positive thinker, realistic and very organized will also help handling stress better. Work deadlines can also cause stress and just a little effort to prioritize can lead to a great reduction in feelings of stress.

People often complain, because they don’t have enough time to do their assignments and because of their own poor management skills, rather than the task or work load itself. Usually, job satisfaction alone is not number one on everyone’s list of stress factors. Most people in the UAE are far from family and other loved ones, leading to the need to build strong friendships and create support systems.
This lack of a support network, and the ‘mechanical’ lifestyle can lead to the need for solace and relaxation, and, while jobs may be lucrative in the UAE, expatriates should re-evaluate their reasons for being here.

There is no harm in being ambitious, but reaching high in a place where there is so much opportunity, having a big bank balance and an expensive wardrobe aren’t the be-all and end-all.

Simple things such as a walk on the beach can be also wholesome and invigorating.

It’s all about you and your individual needs. Forget about the rest of the world and learn to really live for yourself. The happier you are, the more energy and strength you will get, and the more you set yourself up for a great life.



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