STRESS AND THE WORKPLACE
“Men, for the sake of getting a living, forget to live.”
Margaret Fuller, Summer on the Lakes
In North America, many large corporations promote the idea of the “healthy” company. Healthy, fit individuals are seen as more productive, less prone to absenteeism and better employees. Many of these companies spend large amounts of money each year on programs encouraging smoking cessation, weight loss and stress management.
Johnson & Johnson, for instance, has a health promotion program called Live for Life; it’s free of charge, voluntary and available to 33,000 US employees. It offers a health screening service that lets employees know how healthy they are – or not – and then offers a series of 8-week courses designed to improve their weakest areas. The company also holds one-hour lunchtime seminars on subjects like biofeedback. Not every company is taking the idea of healthy employees as seriously as Johnson & Johnson, but many company sites have fitness facilities open during working hours.
Businesses that offer such services are experiencing dramatic reductions in absentee rates, lower hospital costs and a substantial boost in morale. Some even find that happier, healthier employees mean fewer union grievances.
Read more: 25 ways to manage your stress
DEALING WITH BURN-OUT
This is a term you hear a lot these days, generally referring to an individual who has collapsed, emotionally or physically or both, in the course of dealing with the pressures of work and has lost the motivation to work. But there are some misconceptions about burnout; let’s look at them before we go on to talk about how it can be dealt with, or avoided altogether.
Misconception #1: As long as you really enjoy your work, you can work as long and as hard as you want and you won’t burn out.
This is like saying as long as you really enjoy eating and drinking, you can eat and drink as much as you want forever without getting sick.
Whenever a job entails a great deal of frustration, conflict and pressure without periodic breaks from stress and strain, there is the potential for burnout no matter how much you might love your work.
Misconception #2: People know when they’re burning out; all they need to do is take a few days or even weeks off work to rest and relax and they’ll be fine again.
It’s rare for anyone to know when they’re burning out. In fact, the individual who’s burning out is often the last one to realize there’s a problem. She may ignore the signals or dismiss them as unimportant, until the problem has progressed to the point where she may never again be able to be as productive as she once was.
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Misconception #3: If you’re psychologically and physically strong, you probably won’t experience burnout.
Just the opposite seems to be true. Physically strong people can probably take on double the amount of work, but if they don’t have proper stress management skills, that extra workload can wreak havoc.
It works the same for people who are psychologically strong. If you’re seen as especially competent and tough-minded, you’re likely to be handed an overabundance of duties and responsibilities, leaving you less time and energy for the kind of psychological refueling that’s necessary to handle it all. Without proper stress skills, that kind of strength can actually be a liability.
Misconception #4: Burnout is always job-related.
Actually, burnout is almost never solely connected to work. Usually what happens is that stressors from other areas of one’s life – family, friends or personal life – bring pressures to bear that can affect a person’s performance at work.
An individual, for example, is experiencing overwhelming pressures at work, feels dissatisfied with her social life, and is having marital or parenting conflicts at home. When she burns out, the factors are considered job-related, when in fact she has a disordered life in general. The job may be the least of her problems.
There are usually 4 major issue in work situation that contribute to burnout, these are listed and some ‘what you can do” solutions are suggested.
1. Too much demand / not enough time.
You should establish objectives and goals, prioritize, analyze problems and practice good communication skills with the relevant people.
2. Lack of control
When you have no control in your job is regarded as the number reason for stress and burnout. People always telling you what to do, not allowed to make suggestions, these are some of the comments.
Why not volunteer for different tasks you feel offer more independent actions, try to be more assertive in getting your suggestions and demands on the table, schedule your work tasks to accommodate the peaks and valleys of your energy. This is a tough issue to solve sometimes because of the rigid nature of certain jobs, so consider changing jobs!
3. Too much caring
It may well be in your personality that you care more than you should and taking the worries home may create stress and burnout. You may also want to disproportionately please people at work.
You should try to develop more of a detached concern, appreciating your quality of life at home is more important. You should realize that perfection can rarely be achieved in any task and you have to settle for less to make sure you do your job properly. Discuss issues with colleagues, which can be a great leveler for you because you see perhaps a lower level of caring.
4. Stressors of long duration.
Any of the issues creating stress for you that last for a long time can eventually cause burnout. You have to be proactive to not let the issue continue for a long time. It si always good to care about yourself at this time: do exercise, reward yourself, cut down on negative lifestyles like drinking or fast food and try to see humour in the situation.
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The purpose of this book is to help us understanding stress and recognize the differences between good stress and bad stress and how to channel it into positive, life-enhancing directions.
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