The recent incident at the Johnson Space Center when a man killed his supervisor and then killed himself because of a poor job review was only the latest example of someone unable to manage job related stress. Incidents just like it have happened for years all over the country. Betsy Schwartz at the Mental Health Association of Greater Houston says those kinds of incidents paint a false picture of the problem. Schwartz says people everywhere manage to cope with stressful jobs, but most of those who can't cope and lose control don't kill other people.
"Most of the time people with mental illnesses are much much more likely to either be victims, or to commit suicide. For every two homicides there's three suicides."
Schwartz says everybody gets stressed out at work from time to time, and there's a universe of causes and reasons, but when the stress goes on day after day and builds up, and never goes away, it starts affecting physical health as well.
"For example there have been all kinds of studies that have shown that 75 percent of doctor visits are for stress related issues."
Schwartz says people can learn to manage stress by reorganizing and managing their work. Prioritize the work and set realistic goals. Divide large tasks into small tasks and do one task at a time. Try to do less multi-tasking because studies consistently show that multi-tasking reduces productivity and efficiency. Learning to relax or meditate does a lot to relieve stress, and just taking better care of yourself works wonders.
"Exercise and eating right and anything that helps you take care of your body is crucially important, not just for work stress, but for all stress."
Schwartz says when stress starts affecting your ability to do your job, and starts affecting personal relationships and your physical health, it's time to ask for help, and reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of strength. There's more information on how to manage job stresses in a link on our website KUHF dot org. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.