Read the article below about stress management, and answer questions 13-20 on the opposite page.
A Lesson In Stress Management
Demands placed on us at work can often lead to considerable worry and discomfort. There are, however, ways of protecting ourselves from the stress we face at work. We interviewed Jane Collard, a consultant in stress management.
1. In Jane Collard’s opinion, stress is becoming an increasingly common feature of the workplace. Stress is a highly individual reaction, which varies considerably from person to person, and it is difficult for some employees to avoid it. Indeed, stress is regarded by many as part of the organizational culture of our institutions: it comes with the job. Recent figures indicate that time taken off work because of stress has increased by 500 per cent since the 1950s. Undoubtedly, changes in working conditions have led to greater pressure at work at all levels. With reductions in staffing, workloads for individual employees have increased. In addition, many employees are left worrying about the security of their jobs.
2. On the stress management courses that she runs, Jane Collard tries to make the trainees realise that stress in itself is not harmful. Everyone needs a certain level of stress to enable them to feel motivated and to perform effectively. A complete absence of stress can be as damaging as overstress, since it can make people lose interest in their work, and even lead to depression. The difficulties occur when the amount of stress rises above a level which is healthy for a particular individual. If this happens, the effects are very obvious and the trainees are taught to recognize the signs. Stress may be expressed physically, for example through headaches and tiredness, or through emotional problems such as depression. A person suffering from stress may also start to behave differently, and can be difficult to deal with.
3. While it may not always be possible to prevent stress, there are a number of ways in which it can be controlled. The first thing that the trainees learn is how to manage their time effectively. This involves, first of all, setting realistic goals for both the short and long term. Once this framework has been established, tasks are then prioritised on a daily basis. The trainees are also reminded that when they are under pressure the less important items should be left, and they should never hesitate to delegate. Everyone is encouraged to look at ways of reducing ‘wasted time ’, for example by grouping similar tasks together or dealing with items immedkiately.
4. Jane feels that one of the most useful features of the course is that it enables trainees to deal with those demands or deadlines that they regard as unreasonable. They are encouraged to avoid being defensive, but at the same time they are advised not to be afraid of saying ‘no’. They are asked to give reasons only if necessary. The training helps them to foresee difficult situations or unwanted demands, and they learn how to prepare themselves mentally. Everyone is encouraged not to get stuck in negative thought patterns, where stress can feed a circular sense of helplessness. One solution they discuss is to think of a more encouraging alternative for each negative message. They learn, for example, to remind themselves that nothing terrible happens when a demand is refused or a deadline missed. Life goes on.
For questions 13-16, choose the best title for each numbered paragraph from the list below.
For each numbered paragraph 1-4, mark one letter (A-G) on your Answer Sheet.
Do not use any letter more than once.
A Higher stress levels among top managers
B Coping with stress through a positive attitude
C Time lost at work through sickness
D Causes of increased stress in the work environment
E Explanations for missed deadlines
F stress reduction through better organisation
G Typical problems associated with stress
13 Paragraph 1
14 Paragraph 2
15 Paragraph 3
16 Paragraph 4
Using the information in the text, complete each sentence 17-20 with a phrase A-G from the list below.
For each question 17-20, mark one letter (A-G) on your Answer Sheet.
Do not use any letter more than once.
17 Most people agree that the recent increase in stress is due to changes in ____________.
18 The trainees are taught that the right level of stress at work is important for good.
19 Trainees learn that one way of limiting stress is by deciding upon.
20 One of the most important parts of the course is learning how to react to
A levels of performance
B shorter deadlines
C employment practices
D higher levels of sickness
E unfair demands
F successful management structure
G practical targets
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