Work Related Stress

It is common knowledge that those of us that work spend more time in the office than at home on a given day. If we count the hours that we are awake and not sleeping, the statement holds true indeed. Office affairs tend to unconsciously grab our attention that even at dinner we can’t divorce ourselves from office happenings. My wife often talks about her day’s experiences with nasty clients, funny and weird officemates , men who make passes at her and poor me just sit, listen and laugh but at the same time carefully picking telltale signs of stress. Work stress, caused by unreasonable / excessive workload or politics and infighting not only cause people to feel miserable at work but even at home. It can also lead to emotional stress and even depression if not checked promptly and dealt with intelligently.

They say stress is an indispensable ingredient of life for it gives us challenge and makes us generate that adrenalin to get the best in us. It is a well known phenomenon that impeccable performances of athletes and artists are achieved in live audiences and not in rehearsals. You often hear the word “money player” which alludes to someone who performs better when something is at stake, better yet when he is bound to lose something, be it money, pride or prestige. If too much stress can be ruinous to one’s health, lack of stress can be equally disastrous. I can’t imagine going to work sitting on my desk doing nothing! Plain idleness or doing nothing kills and I shiver at the thought of being incarcerated for years. When I hear that Beatle song , “oh that magic feeling, nowhere to go! “ for whatever it suggests, I can’t , for the life of me ever subscribe to the idea of an inert, stress-less life. It is like giving up on life entirely. The trick is to have the right amount of stress enough to keep you going and enjoy what you do.

Excessive workload can definitely cause physical and emotional stress. In this day and age of corporate greed which hails the spending of the least money for the greatest profit, workers oftentimes find themselves doing the job of two people. If this happens never suffer in silence. In some cases our personal greed can be the author of our own misery. We hear stories all the time about Pinoy immigrants in North America doing double jobs for that higher leap into the economic ladder to satisfy cravings for the “finer things” in life. I was told of a nurse who never had a vacation in 10 consecutive years, hacking away at two jobs all year round to finance a huge mortgage and a couple of luxury cars. How long can our body hold such abuse? Office politics can be equally draining on one’s physical and mental health. In-fighting, personality clashes and competition in the work place can cause people to lose their focus and self-control and become slave to their emotions. With the intermingling of different personalities, office conflict is unavoidable but not entirely destructive because it can also signal the need for change. The bad part is when someone fails to deal with the politics intelligently, harbors a rancor with someone and allows bitterness to overpower and wreck his emotions. How many times have we avoided the problem rather than confronting the person or the problem head on? The longer we postpone the confrontation the longer the bitterness lasts. Sometimes our problems may have to do with our lack of emotional competence, our failure to keep our disruptive emotions in check or our inability to read or sense the emotional currents in the workplace.

Some of us dismiss office problems and resign ourselves to the notion that it is just a job – why kill yourself? Right – why stress yourself with work? I believe in the saying – take your work seriously and its problems lightly. A graphic analogy would be to stand, leave the problem in the chair and sit on another chair. You don’t need to lug around with office problems the whole day. I have learned over the years the benefits of distancing myself from people and having a quiet time by myself before going to bed. I make it a point to block my mind with office affairs, not let my mind labor by reading a book or magazine. I simply sit on the couch and watch TV or flip a DVD concert of Sade, Joss Stone or Holly Cole – something slow and jazzy but relaxing. I can be in the basement where I can blast the audio without disturbing anyone. I may occasionally sleep in the couch the whole night but that’s just fine as long as I am able to relax and gain some much needed sleep, maybe just 5 or 6 hours but real deep sleep so I can be ready to grind it out the next day. There’s nothing as refreshing as waking up and feeling eager to go to work. I believe that there is joy in stress as long as we don’t get too much or too little of it!

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9 Responses

  1. Muy bien!

  2. Hay, stress. I’ve loads of it in Switzerland. 🙂

    I suffered from repetitive cases of burnout in the past (as a career woman) just because I was doing the job of five people. There was a point in time when I felt ‘enough is enough,’ and so I gave up my secure job and bummed around for one and half years going to the malls, watching TV all day long, and playing with my dog. I relied on my savings during that “stress-free time,” but in the end, I didn’t feel rested at all; I felt incomplete and unfulfilled.

    The ideal thing is to go for work-life balance. Balance is a nice word, especially when we talk about work-related stress. We should be busy enough to feel fulfilled, but not so busy as to miss out on the other aspects of life (i.e. rest and recreation with God, family and friends).

    Jesus Christ is a good example of a well-balanced “Person.” As a Son of Man, He was very ‘busy’ with His ministry and was very productive indeed. But he also took time to rest; He made it a point to allot time each day to pray in a quiet place and recharge his batteries. He knew the value of rest.

    On a personal note, I like to have my own basement someday where I can have my ‘quiet time.’ 🙂

    Nice blog entry, BW!

  3. Tks for your comment Jayred. I know the feeling. In countries where household helper are not easily available, there’s just too many things on the to do list. Stress-free sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? I’ve seen retired folks all of a sudden lose their perk – happened to my uncle. He had to work part time after retirement to ease up that transition from working to retired.

  4. I must agree with you Buffwwings, without stress we would just be laggards lugging around like a dead log. The challenges of work is what make the individual aim at higher goals and in the process, imrpoving the self as a worker and as an individual in the entirety of things. Like everything else, the amount of stress that we must endure is just about the right amount—not too little and not too much.

    I remember quite well now about an advise my boss once gave me about combatting stress and politics in the workplace. she says that, one must treat the workplace as a second home for most of the time, we spend our time there. One must also treat co-workers like they were housemates and try at most to be harmonious with them otherwise life in office would be full of disorientation and friction, sort of a living hell.

    It worked for me somehow, but not always.

  5. BW, thanks for dropping by The Blogzone. I’ve been out of the blogosphere for a while. I’ll catch up with your entries later.

  6. It’s all about the balance. In the Western world we are privy to impact bias. ‘The more money you make-the more things you can buy-the happier you become’. For those of us who are often stressed, the impact bias is more apparent. That impact bias being ‘the more money you make won’t necessarily make you happier’.

  7. How true Major Tom and we can also say that someimes, harmony in the household is something to be desired!

    Thanks for finding time and stopping by, John Clark.

    Irrealis, how true. I guess it boils down to the issue of contentment, that
    our instinct to do greater and bigger things can sometimes drag us down.

  8. as one saying goes, ‘too much of everything is a poison’, ie, too much of stress or too much of no stress is bad.

    at present, i feel more stressed than pressured, and mostly because of office politics. though i don’t really take them seriously, i feel stress whenever i come across with ‘impossible’ officemates.

    like you, i dont bring my disappointments at home. i do share them with hubby when we have discussions to indirectly teach the kids about cruel realities of life. very nice experience really to be discussing with my family.

  9. Agree with you Bing and I have learned to do that to preserve my sanity and enjoy my life outside of office. I’ve been in shouting matches with people in the office but the culture here is a little different. If the conflict is about work, it seldom gets to a personal level.

    It is also necessary for a person like me who can be paged anytime during the day to have time for my family and my hobby. I can be silly sometimes where I trek up north where cell and Blackberry signals are hard to get and i’m unreacheable! Paminsan minsan lang naman pag tinotoyo ako but I deserve my privacy ika nga.

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