Lucia, not her real name, has been in government service for 30 years. Working in one of the Department of Agriculture-Bicol’s (DA-Bicol) frontline divisions, she had her fair share of stressful experiences in the workplace like being belittled and misjudged by her colleagues. At middle age, she now suffers from high blood pressure, hyperglycemia and high cholesterol levels.

Phillip, 27, has just received his promotion as a permanent employee from being a contractual worker for two years. The volume of paperworks in his routinary job sometimes results to him being stressed.

“Yung idea na dapat matapos ko ang trabaho kahit gaano kadami kasi kung hindi ko ma-process, marami ang maaapektuhan. Yun kung minsan ang nakaka-stress,” he said.

Sheena, 38, who has been in the service for five years, sometimes have to compromise family time to meet the demands of her output-oriented boss. Also, she was appalled to know that based on her Emotional Styles Inventory Profile, she has eventually adopted her superior’s negative general outlook or the capacity to sustain positive emotions over time.

Precy, 52, a mother of three, has spent 32 years working in DA-Bicol. Tight deadlines cause her stress resulting to hyperacidity and high blood pressure.

Lucia, Phillip, Sheena and Precy were among the 85 DA-Bicol employees who attended the Stress Management Seminar spearheaded by the agency’s Human Resource Management Section on November 12-13, 2019 at the DA Training Hall in Pili, Camarines Sur. The said activity was intended for the 35 percent of DA-Bicol employees who signed up for a Stress Management Workshop based on the Training Needs Analysis, conducted by the HRMS earlier this 2019.

According to Rosario C. Sales, Chief of the Administrative and Finance Division, it is necessary for employees to undergo the said activity because stress affects all aspects of life particularly work.

This was seconded by Dr. Hennie P. Lomibao, a Registered Guidance Counselor, saying “A workforce that is inspired, motivated, rested without much stresses would churn in productivity for the organization.”

She mentioned that stress is something associated with the way people perceive things. She also differentiated eustress (positive stress) from distress (negative stress).

“How we feel radiates in what we do,” she added. Thus, she underscored the importance of emotional intelligence (EI) or the ability to regulate onself well even in the face of worst or aversive person or circumstance.

Lomibao discussed the four areas of focus of EI according to Daniel Goleman, an internationally-acclaimed psychologist, namely: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

As part of the activity, Lomibao allowed the participants to recognize their emotions and reactions and explore typical patterns of behavior. She cited common workplace “hot buttons” as well as trigger and trigger factors like people who do not listen, disrespectful, controlling and people who waste one’s time.

“Occupational stress will bring about health hazards in all domains of functioning. Some mental health issues are due to stress—emotional, behavioral and physiological,” Lomibao added.

Lomibao also provided tips on how to manage stress like the 90-second pause and strategies to help others calm down like speaking softly and with a steady tone instead of engaging in a verbal battle. She highlighted the Attachment, Regulation, and Competence (ARC) Framework in developing psychological emotional resilience. Moreover, she shared coping resources and helpful workplace interventions to manage stress including recreation, self-care, social support, spirituality, consultation and referral services, specialized counseling, coaching and mentoring.

The Stress Management Workshop culminated with Experiential Stress Management Exercises including a guided visualization exercise originally developed by Lomibao.

Relieved. This is how Lucia, Phillip, Sheena and Precy described themselves after the Stress Management Workshop.

Lucia turns to God in prayer believing that He lifts the humble. Phillip takes time to exercise after work and every weekend while nurturing his social support in the office.

“Kailangan sa lahat ng mga empleyado ang stress management kasi lahat tayo nae-encounter natin ang stress lalo na sa mga co-workers natin o sa boss natin kapag pini-pressure tayo. Lahat naman talaga ng mga bagay-bagay meron tayong stress,” Phillip said. 

Precy, on the other hand, makes time for leisure activities like cooking and travelling while Sheena strives to understand individual differences and achieve work-life balance. “May kani-kaniyang stress ang bawat tao. As an individual dapat intindihin, and then magkaroon na lang ng sistema sa sarili kung paano intindihin ang bawat isa na may mga kani-kaniyang dala,” Sheena added. Photos by Zandra Abogado, DA RAFIS V