Jorge Luis Cristerna Medina
Operations Director
Expert Contributor

Stress: Is it Useful?

By Jorge Cristerna | Tue, 08/02/2022 - 17:00

Mining is a matter of People working with people. It is also a challenging activity with many risks, the need of a strong safety culture, standardized processes, and a lot of different activities happening on different fronts of the mine and executed by professionals across every branch.

Working in a challenging environment and understanding that most mines are located in remote areas means that miners in most operations have to be apart from their family and friends for various periods. It’s a hard fact that miners work with.

This atmosphere can be stressful and may cause anxiety but, even without denying this reality, can stress and anxiety be useful?

It is known in a mine that nothing is more dangerous than ignoring the safety procedures we need to follow. If an emergency occurs and we ignore our safety protocols, it could end in an accident, an injury or even worse, a fatal accident. In the end, we may find it was not so urgent after all.

Anxiety is a condition in which a person displays restlessness, nervousness and worry and which inhibits the ability to relax or rest. It is most commonly related to possible events in the near or far future (most of them never happen). But anxiety is not always a pathology but a common emotion like fear and happiness, and it is necessary for survival when we confront any kind of risk.

Our efforts to make mining a job that is increasingly safer should not diminish. To that end, we have to be aware of every risk before, during and after our working day, take care of ourselves and also take care of others, both our partners and every person in the mining operation. If we use anxiety effectively as an emotion combined with preparation and safety training, that goal (having a safe and effective operation) is easier to realize. 

On the other hand, stress is a physical and psychological response to pressure situations. Its causes are various, both personal and professional. If constant stress is experienced, various health problems may occur, such as headaches, high blood pressure, stomach problems, depression, aggressiveness and a long list of other problems.

But stress is not so bad. It is like a rubber band: if it is strained, it will break in half; if it is very loose, it may not work as it should.

Our daily mining activities need our full attention and focus on what we are doing, and having the right amount of stress will allow us to make the best out of every turn. We need to remember that exceeding a healthy stress level can cause various problems for our team but, also, without any stress at all, our operation will not be optimized and effective.

Here are some ways to work with the right level of stress:

  1. Focus your attention on one only thing for at least one hour (yes, it means you have to turn off your smartphone).
  2. Use reminders but only those you really need because an excess of reminders may cause high stress levels.
  3. Ask someone who really knows you to help you. They can tell if you’re stressed by only looking at you.
  4. Don’t try to control everything, be flexible and find new ways to solve problems.
  5. Create a disconnection ritual so you can have a good rest when you are not working.