Today I will be doing a presentation called the Way of the Otter at the National Native American Human Resource Association annual conference in Portland, Oregon. This is about how you deal with stress in the workplace. I will start off by asking people what causes stress in their life. Some of the answers I get are tribal politics, poor supervision, conflicts with co-workers, health issues, demands of the job and unexpected crisis. It is important that staff be given a stress assessment to see what their level of stress is and then you can develop a plan of action to lower their stress levels.
One of the strategies for dealing with stress is to use the teachings of the medicine wheel. There are four dimensions in the wheel which represent the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of our lives. When you are addressing all four areas we say you are walking in balance which should be be the goal.
Another resource that is essential for you to deal with your stress is to have a support system. You don’t need a bunch of friends to be there for you but you need at least one and several is optimal. It is also good to have support outside of work so you have some objectivity when you are sharing what your issues are.
Most Tribal organizations have an employee assistance program or they contract out for those services. If your staff need help dealing with financial burdens, they are grieving, dealing with serious health issues or the work has become overwhelming to them a good EAP professional can help them learn how to manage their stress better and if necessary refer them to other resources. Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
I like using the metaphor of the otter for this training since they represent the epitomy of what it means to be happy, joyous and free. They enjoy life as we should each day we go to work. Life is too short to be stressed out on a consistent basis. If we don’t take care of ourselves we can’t be of service to others.