It is said that ulcers are not caused by what we eat but by what eats us. Likewise, stress is not caused so much by what happens to us but by what we think and feel about what happens to us.

Stress can manifest us in many ways – anger, depression, sleepless nights, ill health, lost work time and tension. It is defined as physical or mental strain.

Sometimes stressed people just give up and try to do little to make waves. One of my employees early in my career once told me, “The trouble with this company is that we have too much dynamic apathy.”

Looking back, I understand the employees were stressed and becoming lethargic because, as the analog technology of the company was becoming extinct, it was not adapting to the digital world. In fact, that is why I left.

Real or imaginary, stress can be acquired from politics at work, heavy workload, autocratic management, conditions in the workplace, personal problems, self-worth and more. The way you respond to stressful conditions causes your stress. Stress-related issues cause a high number of doctor visits.

Responsibility for your stress is ultimately up to you, but aware management can help. They need to be present in the real work environment to listen and learn about conditions that stress the employees.

They can, of course, do something about the workload, environment and their own behavior. They need to practice open, honest communications up, down and across the organization. Leadership training for management may be required.

Individuals can also take action to reduce their stress. When they are particularly stressed, sometimes it is helpful to take some deep breaths and relax. Positive thinking, enthusiasm, humor and changing subjects in your brain are techniques that can help. Letting off steam rarely helps.

Results of eliminating, or at least reducing, stress can benefit the organization as well as individuals. You can expect better teamwork, more mutual trust and respect, happier workforce, increased productivity, creativity, employee retention and higher morale.

It pays dividends when management is aware of the stress level of employees and continually acts to reduce stress in employees’ working lives.

Lou Schultz is a Certified SCORE Mentor and can be reached by email at cabinlou@mac.com with questions regarding this column.