Well-Being Chapter Announcement 21: Deconstructing Stress – some tips and tools

Feb,03 2020

By Geeta Thakerar, Co-Convenor, Well Being Chapter


In the last Announcement 20 we focused on “Cognitive Reframing – re-think rather than over think”.

This month we want you to reflect more deeply on exactly what is stress? What types are there and how to manage same?


As in-house counsel, the first step to overcoming stress we face is firstly to understand what it is. Once we know what we are dealing with and having improved awareness we can then tackle this by using the right set of approaches and tools.


We are better equipped to work more productively, build better relationships and live healthier.

Have you thought about what stress really boils down to?

What are its components and how to deconstruct them?

How can you cope knowing this and what tools might you wish to try using?


Management consultant, Karl Albrecht in his 1979 book “Stress and the Manager” identifies four types of stress namely:


       Time stress

       Anticipatory or future stress

       Situational stress

       Encounter stress


By recognising and identifying the different types of stress early stress may be dealt with and be counteracted.

Here is a deep dive as analysed by Albrecht**:

Time stress

Are you worried about a lack of time? Feel trapped in time? Rushing to make a deadline can have a negative effect on the final quality? All this can give you a sense of discomfort and make you unhappy.


Timeis the most valuable resource that we have. Time is limited, and we can only lose time. It means that we tend to live in the past, time often is not manageable - as humans, we must deal with time because time will eventually kill us.


Having a grasp of time barriers is critical and thus organizing, planning, and the utilization of time between specific activities to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity is equally critical for peace of mind and well-being.


Work harder and smarter. Master the management of distractions and tendency to keep postponing work.


Try this approach:

  • Have a “to do list” for a few days, write down all the tasks and allocate estimated time for each task together with next steps and a plan of action.
  • Divide the tasks into 25-30minute slots of time during which ensure complete uninterrupted, undivided and focused concentration. Complex tasks can be subdivided into more manageable subdivisions.
  • Take a very short break then resume with the next 25-30minute item.
  • Take a longer break after a couple of hours – refuel, take a short walk then start the next block of work .
  • Be very focused on priorities and remain consistent by focusing on the important tasks.
  • Leverage on your “active working hours” – know when you are most productive and allocate complex difficult issues to be addresses when you are functioning at your best time of day.
  • BE ASSERTIVE! You need to know when the say ‘no’ to others.




Anticipatory or future stress:

Are you often concerned about events that are still to happen? Are you often uncertain about future events or your personal responsibility in respect of this? Are you always thinking “What if something will go wrong?” This stress can be frustrating. Usually people have no control over it.

Try this approach:

  • positive visualisation techniques by imagining what will happen if the situation has a good result.
  • think in advance about which difficult questions will be asked and having an answer ready. Sometimes when you lack confidence you experience anticipatory stress.
  • Analyse what can go wrong and what impact that might have. Addressing possible failure in advance may help to reduce anxiety and may provide a sense of more control over the event. Try applying these to your contingency plan: time, diagnosis, options, decide, assign, and review.
  • Use other techniques, such as meditation. This helps to focus and concentrate on what will happen. It helps to stop you from worrying.


Situational stress

Are you always well prepared for a sudden and out of the blue conflict situation? Do you get anxious during tense situations over which you have no control? Do you often struggle to gain full control over your own emotions and communicate well with others in emergencies?

Generally, we are the least prepared for situational stress. This stress results in a feeling of powerlessness and lack of support. Like there is no easy solution.


Try this approach:

  • Be more self-aware; situational stress happens suddenly in a completely unexpected way/circumstance. By behaving in a self-aware way, you can recognise automatic physical and emotional signals when you are under pressure and respond in the right way.Every person reacts differently to situational stress. If someone has a natural tendency to get angry quickly and start screaming, it is wise to learn to control this emotion and simply count to 10.
  • Learn more about conflict management. Conflicts often are an important cause of situational stress. By looking at effective solutions you will be well prepared to handle situational stress.
  • Be realistic about situations, often they are not as bad as they seem. Remain optimistic and face the challenges with self-control and always a positive attitude.
  • Breathe deeply – this often can lull you into a state of calm almost immediately.
  • Grab a friend to talk to - the more support you have the less stressed out you will feel.
  • Have a plan B ready - this often has an overwhelming calming effect.
  • Take time to re assess your stress. Try and embrace and reframe stress rather than fight it.



Encounter stress:


Do you get stressed out when you must interact a lot with others or with a certain individual or group of people.? Or if you are attending many meetings? This stress is experienced when someone is worried about the interaction with a boss with a dominant personality or where they must be on their toes all the time because they constantly deal with different people.Encounter stress can also occur when regularly communicating with unpredictable, dissatisfied or unfriendly customers, clients or colleagues.Developing or improving strong interpersonal skills is the key to overcoming this type of stress. Strong emotional intelligence helps to better understand the wants and needs of customers and/or colleagues.


Try this approach:

  • Recognise your own limits; know the maximum number of conversations you can have so you manage encounter stress better. A very common trait is to become withdrawn. By taking breaks in between, talking a walk or doing a breathing exercise, you can deal better with this type of stress.
  • Work on your social skills.
  • Increase or improve your levels of emotional intelligence. This will assist you in recognising emotions, the wants and the needs of yourself and others. It makes interaction with others easier and it offers a foundation for building strong relationships.








Mulder, P. (2017). 4 Types of Stress by Karl Albrecht. Retrieved 23rd January 2020 from ToolsHero: https://www.toolshero.com/human-resources-hr/4-types-of-stress-by-karl-albrecht/

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