Job stress

These are two words that seem to go together extremely well these days and yet make the worst marriage! While I have seen many people with job related stress over the years I have been in practice, with the downturn in the economy, particularly in Ontario, in the last several years I have seen many more patients than in the past.

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Some stress at work is inevitable. There are probably very few people lucky enough not to have any stress at work. For most of us this stress is manageable but for some of us the stress seems to be increasing as more and more people are laid off and management feels the pinch of the economy. This creates stress not only for the individuals laid off but for those in their families as they try and adapt to this life changing situation. Work stress can lead to anxiety, depression, weight gain or loss, drug and alcohol abuse, insomnia, and anger problems. Sound familiar?

And then for those left at work, employers have cut away so much of the proverbial fat that they are now down to the meat and bone. Those lucky enough to still have a job are doing the work of several people and often bring work home with them just to try and stay on top. It is easy to say, “Slow down” but when you worry about maybe being the next one to be let go, this is easier said than done.

 Job stress comes in many forms: downsizing and layoffs, pay reductions, increased work loads, harassment, job promotions and demotions, supervisor changes and new expectations or demands.

 So how to cope? Quitting is always the first thought but today it is not a very practical solution. There just aren’t enough new jobs out there. If the work load has increased it might help to bring this to the attention of your supervisor or boss. It is important to document the changes you have experienced. If there is no option for less work or getting help, try and take breaks during the day. Make sure you have your lunch and take time away from your desk or line. Try, if possible, not to take work home. The more you do, the more they will give you to do.

 Finding things outside of work that can help you unwind are also important. Exercise can help re-energize one. Find fun things to do with your significant other, children, or friends. The more you can de-stress outside the job the more energy you will have for the job.

 Avoid overeating, alcohol, and drugs as a way of coping. These are temporary fixes and only lead to problems down the road. I have never seen these “solutions” solve any real problems but I have seen them create many more.

 Relaxation exercises, such as the one found on this website or one of the many available on the net, can help you relax and ease some tension. Yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, can also be very effective.

 If you are feeling especially anxious or depressed, talk with your family physician. While I am not a strong advocate of time off work, this is sometimes necessary. Usually, the more time we are absent from work due to depression and anxiety, the harder it is to go back to work. The issues at work don’t disappear just because we are not there.

Lastly, it sometimes helps to talk with someone, like a psychologist, who has experience helping individuals sort out what the work issues may be and to help that person look for possible solutions that they have not already thought of.


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© Robert Schnurr 2012