Monday, March 11, 2013

The Experience of Strain

Jake Harlick

                Strain is defined as the negative consequences associated with stress. It is the physiological, psychological, or behavioral reactions that occur when the body has been placed in a stressful environment for too long. The body has a defense system for dealing with stress which causes more blood to be pumped to the brain and skeletal structure in order to be more alert and durable during the stressful encounter. If the encounter lasts too long the lack of blood going to the rest of the body will begin to result in break downs that can show themselves in the form of the reactions listed above causing exhaustion, irritability, and aches among other things. Physiological strains are those that a person feels physically due to stress. These can include immune system deficiency causing the person to be more susceptible to illness, cardiovascular in the raising of blood pressure and strain on the heart, musculoskeletal causing headaches, tight shoulders and back pain, or gastrointestinal which includes stomachaches and intestinal issues. Following that is Psychological strains which are mental strain that causes people to breakdown from stress, there are many different ways of showing it including depression and anger, all of these symptoms generally refer to burnout condition where the individual does not feel like going on any longer in their work, activity, or in very serious cases their life. Last are behavioral strains where the person acts different than they would on a day to day basis due to the recent stress, this can include substance abuse such as drugs, alcohol, or smoking or just an overall attitude change where they begin to treat others differently and demand things they wouldn’t typically demand.
                Physiological, psychological, and behavioral strains are all very common in the work place. These strains are the end result of different workplace situations on overall employee well-being. If a company is seeing signs of strain all throughout their day to day operations it can be a bad sign of where the organization is heading. This is because as moral decreases and strain increases the productivity and quality of work being put out will decrease more and more causing the entire company to malfunction as a whole. This can turn into a viscous circle if not dealt with properly because if a supervisor comes down on his or her already depleted work force this will only worsen the issue and cause more strain. It is crucial to provide a workplace that makes employees feel comfortable most of the time in order to divert some of the stress that is unnecessary. Keeping some stress is good though such as tight deadlines because it keeps employees accountable, but if work load is unbearable and communication is always negative a company will see all signs of strain appear in the workplace and will suffer accordingly.
                Physiological strain is present in many jobs.  A study was done of the physiological strain of police officers when executing operations on an assignment. Officers were put in suits to protect them from different hazmat type situations and then told to do forced entries and other high intensity police drills. The goal of this study was to help set safety standards for the use of this suit. During the study there were 3 men who were forced to drop out of the drill because of exhaustion. This is an example of physiological strain in the workplace and how it can directly affect job performance. In law enforcement if an officer cannot complete the task because of the physiological strain placed on their body it is both bad for their own health and also bad for the well-being of citizens because the criminals will not be caught (Sam D. Blacker).
                Burnout is one of the most common forms of psychological strain that results in an individual giving up on the cause of the burnout. It can be very common in the workplace and although it may seem that it is the individual who has become burnt out, “burnout is more of a social phenomenon, than an individual one” (Maslach). This is because an individual typically does not get burned out on their own. It is based on many environmental factors that add up to them not feeling like the stress created is worth it anymore. These factors can include unfriendly coworkers, an intolerable boss, or just too heavy of a work load. These all add to the person’s mental health fading to the point where they reach complete exhaustion in relation to the job and choose to move on rather than deal with the physiological strain any longer.
                Behavioral strain is a common result from being over stressed that is the most observable by other people. The signs can be over or under eating, angry outbursts, drug, tobacco, or alcohol use. These behavioral reactions to stress can cause physiological strain on the body In turn making issues grow to unhealthy levels. It is best to control stress and get proper rest when needed to keep the body at a healthy level (Mayo).
                All of this information related to strain relates to class in many ways. Of these is most notably employee well-being and job performance. Companies run on their employees and if an environment has been created where employees are unhappy to the point where it becomes unhealthy, then the company will fail. This becomes management’s responsibility to create a fun environment that still requires employees to be hard workers. If this can be achieved it will benefit the company exponentially because employees will feel more motivated to work and create a good product or service because they truly enjoy their work.
                Taking away from the information gathered on the experience of strain for the human body, it is evident that removing yourself from situations that can hurt you physiologically, psychologically, or behaviorally, is a good practice. Students getting into working America should be conscious to the fact that a job that causes excessive amounts of the three types of strain may not be the best career to stick with and should consider other options. These are good principals to hold in order for a person to create the overall best quality of life for themselves.


Physiological responses of Police Officers during job simulations wearing chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear personal protective equipment
Sam D. Blacker, James M. Carter, David M. Wilkinson, Victoria L. Richmond, Mark P. Rayson, Malcolm Peattie
Vol. 56, Iss. 1, 2013

 Job burnout
Maslach C ; Schaufeli WB ; Leiter MP
ANNUAL REVIEW OF PSYCHOLOGY  Volume: 52   Pages: 397-422   10.1146/annurev.psych.52.1.397   Published: 2001

Mayo Clinic Staff.

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