Are you constantly worried about work?
You certainly wouldn’t be the only one to feel stressed and anxious about your job – even during the hours when you aren’t there! But it can take a toll on your health and wellbeing.
In some ways, human beings need to experience some measure of stress and anxiety, otherwise life would be monotonous and boring.
However, like many things in life it is about balance. There is good stress and bad stress: eustress lets you thrive and keeps you full of energy and able to cope; while distress makes you feel overwhelmed and drained of energy. Stress is just our body’s reaction to a new situation – regardless of whether it is welcome or unwelcome.
When we’re stressed and anxious our hearts beat faster; our bodies produce adrenaline; we breathe more rapidly; we’re more alert; and we may perspire more. This can occur when involved in a positive event like receiving an award, or a threatening event like having a performance appraisal at work. Physiologically, your body cannot differentiate between the good or bad, and reacts the same in both situations. However when stress and anxiety continues over long periods of time, health problems will often result.
The term “stress” was coined by Hans Selye who in 1926 discovered that patients with a variety of ailments manifested many similar symptoms, which he ultimately attributed to their bodies’ efforts to respond to the stresses of being ill. He called this collection of symptoms a stress syndrome, or the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS).
The General Adaptation Syndrome explains why stress is such an abundant source of health problems. By changing the way our body normally functions, stress disrupts the natural balance — the homeostasis — crucial for wellbeing. It can also subtract years from our lives, by speeding up the aging process.
Stress and anxiety is one of the most significant factors in lowering resistance and triggering the various mechanisms involved in the disease process.
It is important to recognise and anticipate the potential of stress occurring; identify the source; and build your capacity to withstand this stress; while at the same time trying to reduce or if possible eliminate the source of stress. Have realistic goals and don’t get caught in the trap of undertaking an amount of work that is not sustainable in the long run; your employers may be pleased to begin with, but if it’s not sustainable you will burn out. Identify your own resources, the situations you find stressful, and your optimal level of stress.
Tips if You are Worried About Work
Ensure that you maintain communication with your supervisors and colleagues, and ventilate your feelings in safe environments in professional and appropriate ways. Keep areas and time for relaxation and recovering from the stress of the day; before or after work have a rule that you will only think about work issues for a certain period of time – and keep to this rule.
Know yourself and your own capabilities, and think positively about your abilities, without placing unrealistic demands on yourself. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by expectations and problems, try breaking them down into manageable chunks.
Some self-care strategies to help you with handling workplace worries include:
- Scheduling in positive, enjoyable or rewarding activities;
- Utilising social support from family, friends, sport;
- Using spiritual or religious practices;
- Undertaking moderate cardio exercise for 30 minutes every day;
- Eating healthy food (at least most of the time);
- Moving around frequently – sitting for long periods of time is not good for our systems;
- Practicing breathing and other calming activities;
- Having something to look forward to – short-term and long-term!
By learning relaxation and stress management techniques, you’ll improve your overall health as well as your odds of living a disease-free life.
Author: Greg Turner, B App Sc, Grad Dip App Sc (App Psych), Cert GMH, MAPS.
Brisbane Psychologist Greg Turner is an employee assistance program provider and works with individuals working in high stress occupations. If you would like to learn ways to reduce stress and improve your quality of life make an appointment to see Greg and get back on track with life.
To make an appointment with Brisbane Psychologist Greg Turner, try Online Booking – Mt Gravatt or call (07) 3088 5422.